Day 18- June 2nd

It is Sunday and we have experienced more of a rest day today.  We have been experiencing and seeing amazing things and it was good to decompress today.  I went for a long run along the lake this morning and the weather has been beautiful the last couple of days.  At 11, we met together as a group and started debriefing the last week.  We then had some more free time in the afternoon to get started on our research projects and get ready for the students from University of Basel to arrive.  We met again at 4PM for more debriefing and a briefing on our dinner that night.

The Villa is owned by the Olivio Ferrari Foundation.  Olivio and Lucy Ferrari were faculty members in the school of Architecture, although originally from Switzerland.  They found value in sharing the Swiss culture with Americans and wanted to provide and opportunity for this.  Returning from a trip they drove through Riva San Vitale and saw the villa in much disrepair.  They went to the town records and found out it was for sale.  They founded the foundation and were able to purchase it and renovate it and it is the home of Virginia Tech’s CESA- Center for European Studies and Architecture.  Olivio passed away in the mid-1990s after the Villa opened in 1994.  Lucy however is thriving and we had the opportunity to have dinner with her.  A minibus drove us up the mountain and we picked Lucy up on the way.  When we got to the top you could see everything.  It was an incredible view.  The restaurant was Ristorante San Grato.  The staff was lovely and we had another three-course dinner with Limoncello to finish off the meal.  Lucy shared with us some of the things that she loves about Switzerland like on the money, there is a brail marking so that visually-impaired people can tell how much money the paper bill is.  She talked about the Villa and the history.  It was lovely to spend the evening with her.  Virginia Tech is in her debt for the wonderful Villa she established and provides for us to use.

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