November 20th, 2004

Exile on Ventotene

In 2 BC Emperor Augustus exiled his promiscuous daughter Giulia Agripinna to the island of Ventotene, which on a clear day is visible from my terrace. She was confined on the northern tip of the island in Pandateria, a large villa constructed of white marble and full of beautiful frescoes, luxurious thermal baths, and of course many servants. While her father called her “a disease of my flesh,” she nevertheless was a witty and intelligent woman loved by the people of Rome. The farmers and fishermen of Ventotene admired her as well and regularly brought her gifts of fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat.

“Remember how you spoke about Ventotene?” Vittoria said yesterday.
“Yes,” I replied. “I can see it right now, from my window.”
“I had a dream last night that you took me there, and put me in this large mansion, and you had a heavy chain around my ankle with a lock on it and you said when the tourist season is over that will come off.”
“Excellent. WAY excellent!”
“But I tried to get you to take it off. Of course I won't tell you how.”
“I know how.”
“I’m sure you do. I almost had you in the palm of my hand!”
I laughed. “Which I was hoping for all along!”

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Tony's Favorite Extra

This morning Peppe came to my house to install a new DVD player into my computer. He asked me for a disc. I gave him “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” which I'd just gotten in the post from He smiled. “I’m in that movie,” he said.

We spent a pleasant half hour grabbing screen shots. Director Anthony Minghella filmed the scene here on the island, over at Ischia Ponte, near Castello Aragonese. All those people were not actors, but rather ordinary Ischians like himself, who understood perfectly how to express grief when a young, unmarried pregnant woman is fished out of the sea.