La Gamberaia, Settignano, Florence, 1984
British, Canadian, 1942
gelatin silver print
21.5 x 27.7 cm; image: 8.6 x 26.5 cm
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (no. EX-85-35)
© Geoffrey James
Once a modest farmhouse on the Settignano hillside, La Gamberaia overlooks Florence and the Arno Valley. The villa takes its name from the fifteenth-century owner, Matteo di Domenico, who became Gamberelli in reference to the local freshwater crayfish ("gamberi"). The architecture and gardens were originally built by the Florentine nobleman Zanobi Lapi and his nephews in the seventeenth century. During the Second World War, the villa became a Nazi headquarters; the house was almost completely destroyed when German officers set fire to their maps in anticipation of the Allied advance. Marcello Marci purchased the grounds in the mid 1950s and began a restoration project that his descendents continue to the present day. The premises are currently rented out as holiday apartments.