Sunday, September 14, 2008

Villa Litta - Lainate

Yesterday was our annual Maxim summer party for the Milan Design Center. Yes, we get this benefit even if we're not at the hq site. This year, the lunch was at Villa Litta in Lainate, northwest of Milan. Tables were set up in beautifully decorated room. There were about 100 of us, including family members.

The food was provided by an outside caterer. It was a sit-down meal and the food was pretty good. For the appetizer - proscuitto with figs, salad greens and balsamic vinegar. First dish - risotto with mushrooms and pancetta, and pasta with seafood sauce. Second dish - sliced beef done medium rare with fosemary and parmagiano cheese, and roasted potatoes. Dessert - semifreddo with mixed berries, coffee, and a gelato and pastry selection.

In between courses people walked around and socialized. The kids were seated next door in another room and were entertained by a clown.

After lunch, we headed outside for a tour of the villa. This 500 year-old villa is known of its giochi d'acqua (translation: water games?). Our group ended up with a nice and friendly volunteer guide.

Back then, the noble person who owned the villa wanted to build something beautiful and that also involved water for some cooling fun for his guests in the summer. Rocks taken from caves and seashells were used to invoke the seaside.

The walls were covered from floor to ceiling with small pebbles forming these elaborate patterns.

And here you can see the seashells in use.

There were also beautiful marble sculptures throughout.

The most interesting thing were naughty water features. All around the house, there were these water spouts cleverly hidden in the floors and walls.

You never know when you might be squirted by water! You might be walking along innocently when squiiiirt, got-cha!

According to the guide, this was in the time of the Spanish Inquisition, when women were not allowed to bathe. And so these water spouts were clevered designed so that when women walked past, they could be refreshed by squirts of water under their gowns. Clever!

Some of us were trying to figure out how this seemingly random squirts of water was getting triggered. Hey, we're engineers! It couldn't be random since the guide was somehow able to stay dry. It seemed like water would start squirting when almost when he snapped his fingers. And it seemed to happen at the most opportune times, just as someone was walking past the spout. It just couldn't be random.

You had to be careful where you stood. These guys were getting wet, and even the umbrella wasn't helping! So what could it be? We were sure he wasn't holding a remote control, and we searched high and low for secret switches or levers. Although there were some that were controled by a hidden lever - for example when you sat down on one of the seats, water would squirt at anyone standing in front of you. But that still didn't explain all of it. We were scratching our heads...

Then I spotted the culprit. It wasn't a remote control or secret switches. No, it wasn't quite so high-tech. There we people hiding in these secret spots controlling the water spouts. No wonder!

Ahhh, now it made sense. What a fun and clever place. I can imagine guests at this villa having mischevious fun with the squirting water. It's hard to imagine all this was created 500 years ago.

On our way out we spotted a newlywed couple taking pictures.

It was definitely a fun and interesting day with our colleagues and friends.

1 comment:

shiva said...

controlling it how though from those secret spots?

congrats on solving the mystery though ;)

Related Posts with Thumbnails