CONNECTING MY DOTS
by Thomas J. Volpe
with Joshua M. Sklare
Like everyone else, Tom Volpe has a multitude of dots that form the tapestry of his life. That tapestry began in Brooklyn, then to Manhattan, New Jersey, and halfway around the world. His love of travel has also taken him many places, whether an Italian villa or the beaches of Bermuda. His love of learning took him from life as a student at Brooklyn Tech and Brooklyn College to the chairmanship of St. Francis College of Brooklyn.
It was August of 1999…
I was driving through the Friuli region in the northeast of Italy with two special friends. We were exploring an area little visited by American tourists. An article in the New York Times had described the rolling hills, vineyards of the crisp white wine of Pinot Grigio, and scrumptious hams and prosciutto amid the splendor of the Adriatic seaside.
From that very serendipitous find, the fantasy of having a house in Italy began to form and germinate inside of me. Later that year, I learned of two gentlemen in Toronto who had a house in that very beautiful area of Italy.
I enjoy striking out on my own, which I have done in several aspects of my life, and did not want to follow the usual practice of renting a villa in Tuscany or Umbria, or in the South. But Friuli intrigued me. I located the Canadian owners of the villa, one an art publisher, the other a handsome, effete Brazilian. They described this unique and special villa that they had painstakingly and assiduously built from an early nineteenth-century farmhouse. It sounded superb! But alas, they said they had never rented the house nor would they consider it because of the artwork and special features. The villa stood on a large hill that overlooked a castle on one adjoining hill and a cathedral on another. We had several continuing conversations and then he agreed to send me an album of photos of both the interior and exterior of the villa. Boy, was I hooked!