Vol 3 Section 0978
[MTP: Sotheby’s 17 Dec. 1992, Item 63].
November 7 Saturday – The Clemens family was in Florence, Italy. Hill claims that because Countess Massiglia would not allow Janet D. Ross to prepare the villa prior to their arrival, so they were forced to take a hotel room in town until Nov. 9 . Note: the countess would also lock the gate to the villa at various times, making a doctor visit difficult, if not impossible; she was later reported to having the water shut off so the toilets could not be flushed, and was accused of cutting the phone lines Sam had installed.
November 8 Sunday – The New York Times, p.7 ran a short note of the Clemenses arrival in Florence:
Mark Twain’s Villa Near Florence.
FLORENCE, Nov. 8.—Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and his family, accompanied by George Gregory Smith, have arrived here and taken possession of the Villa Quarto, three miles and a half from the city. The villa was formerly the property of a Russian Grand Duchesse and was afterward occupied by the King of Wurtemberg. It is now owned by Count Reybaudi Massiglia, Italian Minister to Persia, who was formerly Consul at Philadelphia, where he married Miss Paxton. [They did not take possession until Nov. 9.]
Sam wrote on Villa di Quarto stationery to Edward B. Caulfield, asking the reporter not to repeat some scandalous remarks he’d made about Mary Baker Eddy.
November 9 Monday – The Clemens family took possession of the Villa di Quarto [Hill 72; Willis 1]. Note: Servants at the Villa di Quarto: Carlo Cosi (Chef), Adelasia Curradi (Upstairs maid), Gigia Brunori (Kitchen maid), Celestino Bruschi (footman), Theresa Bini, Ugo Piemontini (Butler), Emilio Talorici (?) coachman [AMT 1: group photo after p. 204]. Note: Katy Leary also in photo.
George Gregory Smith, who had acted as their agent to secure the Villa, called on the family and spent the day “installing” them. Smith wrote to his mother:
We have had a lot of fuss over the contagious disease which the Barlows were afraid of & which the Massiglias lawyer insisted on putting into the lease. A clause providing that if he had any contagious disease that he should bear the expense of disinfecting the villa. I told him they were evidently afraid that he had an infectious humor [Orth: Smith to his mother Nov. 10].
Clara Clemens later wrote about the Villa di Quarto (that Paine calls ‘a fine old Italian palace” MTB p.
1210) and its landlady.
The arrangements for our arrival were made by a friend of Father’s, Mr. Gregory Smith, who lived in Florence. He had spared no pains to insure the comfort of my parents. Indeed, nothing had been forgotten—except the complete deportation of the landlady. Mrs. A —– [Countess Massiglia ] was expected to leave town as soon as she rented her villa, but she had changed her mind. There were a few rooms over the stable in which she planned to spend a large part of the season. She as an American of the type one sees oftener abroad than at home. Her husband, an Italian, was somewhere in the Far East.
To start off with, Mrs. A—– had removed for her own convenience to the apartment over the stable, many things that had been included in the furnishings of the villa when it was rented by Mr. Smith. Father’s eyes began to crackle at this information. However, we really had all that we needed, because it was easy to borrow from one room to complete the comforts of the next, there being something like fifty or sixty rooms altogether, in that spacious villa which had been built by one of the Medici and was at one time occupied by a Russian grand duke. It was imposing in appearance as one approached it by the long garden drive,
SLC used mourning border for most letters from Susy’s death on, then from Livy’s death on.