«It happened on a spring day. One of those days when it’s too hot to wear a jacket, but not enough to do without it. One of those days when we begin to enjoy the sparkling air and the thousand shades of trees that are reborn». So Frank had started adjusting his bow tie, just before we sat down at the table. I always thought that the setting of his house had made him a romantic soul.
Frank and his wife live in a country manor, one of those drafty villas, with velvet sofas scattered everywhere and heavy brocade curtains. That night the table was set so elegantly that it was ridiculous since we had known each other for years and such a formality had never been necessary. White linen napkins and crystal glasses aside, the atmosphere was pleasant and I was looking forward to some of my friend’s intellectual bubble.
Frank teaches English literature at the university if the clues were not enough.
Do you know Venice?
The appetizers began to come out of the kitchen, Frank held the reins of the conversation as the impeccable host he is, and we were carefully listening to him, intervening only when he stopped to take a mouthful.
«Do you know Venice?» He asked us blankly. My wife and I exchanged a glance over the chopping board of sliced meat, and briefly shook the head. «Good – Frank continued in a low voice – not far from San Marco, reachable only by boat, is the Island of San Clemente. In 1131 a wealthy merchant founded a church and a shelter for wayfarers». The tone became conspiratorial, I started wondering if he wanted to make fun of us. «There, where those buildings once stood, today there is a luxurious hotel, immersed in its centuries-old park: the San Clemente Palace».
Oh gosh, what did he want to get at?
«A few months ago my son, Luke, decided to spend some relaxing days with us joined by his girlfriend at the San Clemente Palace. Enthusiastic about the idea, we willingly accepted: when does a thirty-year-old son ever want to spend a vacation with mom and dad? Then we realized it, but let’s take one step at the time».
San Clemente Palace: a fairytale Hotel in Venice
Frank told us the whole journey from the arrival by boat to the hotel, admiring the sunset in the Lagoon, up to the elegant rooms, the centuries-old park, the golf course, and the restaurants. He then named the Sunset Hill, a hill overlooking Venice Lagoon, on top of which to dine in absolute intimacy, and there he stopped. He calmly swallowed the last bite, wiped his mouth and smiled slyly.
«In short, – he continued with a cryptic smile on his face, – the first night Luke insisted on having dinner at Sunset Hill. The sun was setting and dyed the water orange. We were served dinner of fresh fish. Suddenly Luke said he should have told us something very important. His expression became so serious that I was almost worried».
Do you want to be my wife?
«He stood up and cleared his throat. He took a step toward his girlfriend and knelt. She started shaking and put both hands to her mouth. Luke took a small blue box out of his pocket, held out both arms to her and opened it».
«Do you want to be my wife? said he, smiling and slipping the ring on her finger».
«She was speechless, all she could do was nodding, and then she threw herself into his arms».
«I’m still shivering about it – Frank concluded – I congratulated Luke on the choice of location, mostly all without our knowledge».
Young Luke, just like his father, is a romantic. I hugged my old friend congratulating him and promising myself to visit the Sunset Hill of San Clemente Palace Kempinski: I could do something romantic too, after all.