What is it about Germany? Any European over 70 will pause. As will any driving enthusiast. Or music lover. Inventive, disciplined, romantic, formidable, Germany has been the EU’s economic powerhouse since the 1960s, exporting its efficiency and sophistication, AEG to VW, far and wide. And as with any galloping economy (think Florence in late 1400s), Germany has also produced some mighty visual artists (Sigmar Polke, Anselm Kiefer, Andreas Gursky to name just three) post-WWII. As well as (so far) the 21st century's most enduring multilateralist: Angela Merkel.
At Poggiosole, we’ve always disproportionately welcomed German guests. From 2010 through 2014, one couple from Hamburg spent several months a year in Le Rose, eventually renting the lodging year-round and becoming good friends with my folks. Le Rose still bears traces of their stays, like a fire-engine red WESCO steel breadbox and an ample collection of German novels. And just yesterday another German couple, Matthias and Uta (pictured) concluded their 10th sojourn at Poggiosole, during which they were joined by Matthias’ adult son Martin, his girlfriend, her friend, and a dog named Kayo.
A couple of days before Matthias and Uta’s departure, we made time for the above portrait, and reflected on the dramatic ways Europe has evolved in the last 70 years. I made the case that Italy needs Germany as a beacon to measure against, and continue the seemingly interminable journey from a collection of disparate feudal regions to a united, competitive and transparent parliamentary democracy. On a more human scale, Italy also needs the interest in the Italian landscape, culture, climate and culinary tradition that Germans continue to express: by showing up.
As a nod of appreciation to all our German guests, with the help of DeepL and Matthias and Martin, I’ll soon unveil German language versions of Poggiosole’s web pages. I’d previously thought it was appropriate to present the site only in languages in which I’m at least minimally conversant (e.g. French, other than my native English and Italian). But I’ve changed my mind. With so many votes for our style of accommodation coming from Germany, the Poggiosole website ought to “speak” German, even if I don’t.