|The view from Bellosguardo out over Florence, with San Francesco di Paola hidden among the trees below the crest.|
Harry Brewster was born in Rome in 1910. One of his grandfathers, descended from William Brewster of the Mayflower, was a friend of Henry James, who reportedly used him as the model for Gilbert Osmond in The Portrait of a Lady. His maternal grandfather was the German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrandt, whose studio occupied part of San Francesco di Paola. Harry, with his brother Ralph and sister Clotilde, grew up behind the high walls of what was essentially a rambling Tuscan farm that happened to be only a ten minute walk from the centre of Florence. The Brewsters were American through and through, but, because of their long residence in Europe, no longer qualified for US citizenship. However, when Harry married an English actress, Elizabeth Home, he took on British citizenship and served as a police officer in Kenya throughout the war.
|Statue of San Francesco di Paola at the entrance to the villa|
After working for several years as part of the Allied commission administering Berlin and as an attaché at the British Embassy in Rome, he returned to Florence to devote the rest of his life to enjoying his beautiful home, San Francesco di Paola.
His main occupations during the post-war decades were writing and photography. Aside from his autobiographical volumes, he wrote Classical Anatolia and River Gods of Greece, based on numerous visits to classical sites, especially in Turkey and the Middle East, both books being illustrated with his own excellent photographs.
Harry Brewster had three sons. His second marriage was to Fiona Warnant- Peterich and his travelling companion in his later years was the immensely cultured Barbara Emo di Capodilista (née Barbara Steven) who herself passed away in 2003.
If you're able to borrow or buy any of Harry Brewster's books about his life in and around Florence, I recommend them highly. They open a window onto a world of immensely interesting individuals who style of life, although not that far in the past, has more or less disappeared completely.
My recommended Tuscan vacation accommodations:
Greve in Chianti accommodation.
Panzano in Chianti accommodation.
Author: Anna Maria Baldini
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