*Pretty girl from Venezia



Laureen

Laureen was feeling satisfied, as if in Heaven. She was in bed with the man of her dreams: passionate and gentle, manly and romantic. She would like to murmur his name, sin that escaped.  Not to talk about the location then… Through half-closed eyelids she had glimpses of the comfortable luxury that surrounded her. She was sure it was winter outside and she was feeling so good. Suddenly  an unpleasant noise, at first far away, in the fog of sleep, then closer and closer. Nagging, frustrating, irritating. An alarm clock. Her alarm clock. She had tried to select some sweet melody, but Enya had accompanied her into a deeper sleep. Finally she had given up and chose the insistent sound of a rooster, the most useful. Usually she was difficult to wake, but the rooster cry tore into her sleep. It achieved its goal of waking her up. With awakening came also the ongoing everyday reality. Her lover was gone, vanished, trapped in the dream and its bedroom. The location  well, nothing had to do with opulence but it was nice, intimate, a mansard which had once seen her play carefree. It was part of the large villa overlooking the Naviglio canal, something precious, in memories of a rich and loved girl with her special large space to play, to invite girlfriends for endless afternoons of drinking tea with dolls.  But outside that door there was the “true” house, where finally, after two stairways, down in the living room they drank hot chocolate. She never would have thought that her magical place would become the only roof for her survival. A few months after the tragedy, Laureen and her mother were forced to close the living rooms with their venetian ceilings and ancient floors. Sheets mercilessly aseptic had covered the only precious furniture unsold, as they had doggedly clung to the illusion of being able to recover their happy past or, at least, act as an anchor of hope.
Her mother finally fell into the abyss of depression and anorexia. Laureen had thought she would react in another way. One day, if she had children, she wouldn’t leave them to their fate, she would fight with them until the end. She felt guilty about these thoughts. A human being is a person with individual character and becoming a mother does not automatically change this.
She returned to the present.
Some draft coming through the old windows contributed to lowering the temperature of  that dank winter, but now this was her home and she could not complain. Inside the room there was a lovely bathroom. Along the narrow corridor were three doors: one led into the small but cheerfully kitchenette, another into a closet and the third into the living room with exposed beams, surrounded on three sides by wide windows, which offered a view of the large park that was cared for by the old Armido, as best he could. He and his wife Clelia were in the service of her family from immemorial time, before her birth. They had remained close, as faithful watchdogs, paid by accommodation on the ground floor, the produce of the little vegetable garden and a small pension. Clelia had been her nanny before, then the housekeeper and, by virtue of her past in noble Venetian families, had taught her how move into the high society, because in life one never knows. Nowadays, with a few more wrinkles, but a body still slender and with a quick wit that shone in her dark eyes, she was a rock for her, a shelter, almost a mother.
Third ringing alarm.
Fully aware she realized it was Sunday and she did not have to go to the factory, so she decided to pamper herself a bit, before going on working about her plan.
The wonderful dream lover had left only a thin nostalgia and indeed in that important moment in her life, she had no time for love. Better to say sometime there are things which are not going in a right way such as with Davide. She had been bound with him for two years, arousing envy and jealousy of the high and middle-class coastal women who had now marked her as a poor girl, forced to get her hands dirty for living. She was the daughter of irresponsible and deranged man, from which she must have inherited a bit of madness to reject Davide’s proposal of marriage.
The cut had occurred two months earlier. They were a couple after they met in a nightclub in Venezia where she was celebrating Simona’s birthday, the only true friend she had. To be honest, their relationship as it evolved had become a nonsense. He was attractive, wealthy and seemed to love her. She had never had any problem attracting boys when she was very young, nor men later. But, to be honest, she hadn’t yet find the right one. Maybe she missed opportunities. So she joked to herself. “Yes, I’m just like Cinderella now, I’m only house and factory”
She also thought if it’s destiny she’d find her man anyway, but she also knew that fate should be helped. It is not as if one fine morning you wake up and find the Blue Prince had parachuted directly into your bedroom. She smiled at that idea, imagining Davide coming down from the ceiling dressed in that way. He was not really that kind of man!
However even this was not her priority. After the death of her father first and her mother then, she had other to think about. Something took up most of her time: her handmade furniture factory. Built from nothing by her father more than eighteen years before it had slowly grown until it became a business employing fifty people, passionate and experienced in their work. The furniture was so unique that pieces were sent to all parts of the world to furnish wealthy homes. A classic made in Italy, millions of light years distant from the Ikea stuff.
She had no close relatives and since the past five years it was all on her shoulders. She had to leave her studies at the Faculty of Philosophy and she found herself faced with the decision whether to sell the building and the land around at a bargain price. The area had been targeted by anonymous people with large capital to develop a big shopping centre.
Laureen had strongly resisted in her father’s memory and for the good of her workers. So, at seven o’clock, six days a week, she went to her factory to keep the accounts, take care of shipments and to help rub beeswax into the finished products. She kept up hopes of the men and women in the factory who had worked with her parents. In their eyes she saw a question. Without her, there would be no work for them, nor many other job opportunities. So she gritted her teeth and somehow had pulled ahead.
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The location

North-east of Italy

The Riviera del Brenta is the area surrounding the Naviglio del Brenta (a channel from the Brenta River),  which runs from downtown Padua across the Veneto countryside, through Stra, Fiesso d'Artico, Dolo, Mira, Oriago and Malcontenta to Fusina, which is part of the municipality of Venice, in the North-east of Italy.
The Naviglio is navigable by river boats, whose best example is the famous Burchiello, which once used to carry Venetian noblemen from Venice to the countryside and Padua and is now a tourist attraction.
From 16th to 18th century many Venetian aristocratic families built their beautiful villas here (like Villa Pisani in Stra, Villa Ferretti-Angeli in Dolo, Villa Widmann-Foscari in Mira, and Villa Foscari a.k.a. La Malcontenta in Malcontenta): they are indeed known as Ville venete, Venetian villas. Noblemen used to re-invest their trade profit in big agricultural complexes. They were not just countryside manors, but real and self-sustainable production centres: they add fields all around, stables, barns, and the villages of the peasants. The villa was the name of this kind of complex, but it today refers to the manors only. Some of them have also beautiful gardens, with small woods, fountains, mazes and small lakes. The villa veneta is typical of all the region of Veneto, but the Riviera del Brenta is place to some of the most beautiful and famous.





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