Tuesday, February 4

Villa Montalvo, a day trip

I've lived in the Bay Area since 1972. That's a really long time! Having said that, I was surprised when a friend invited me to spend some time at Villa Montalvo in Saratoga. (Their website calls it the Montalvo Arts Center, so you know.)

"Villa Montalvo is an Italian Mediterranian stule mansion nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, in Saratoga, California, United States. It was constructed from 1912 to 1914 by California statesman and businessman James Duval Phelan." -wikipedia


We arrived around 10 am. My friend brought her travel watercolors and sketchpad, while I lugged my camera, watercolors and sketchpad. I had never done any "travel sketching" before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I found myself mesmerized by this beautiful place. There was so much to see. It seemed like I saw something breathtaking around every corner!

There were statures galore. So many statues it was hard to take it all in! I particularly loved this beautiful woman in the trees, gathering. She was so ethereal and so stunning. The detail in her was just amazing.

Further on, I found this tree of birdhouses. You should see it in person, I've never seen so many birdhouses in my life. It was a striking and natural part of the landscape, and just so precious. It wraps around and around the tree, and the houses are of all different sizes and depths, it seemed like no two were actually alike. I loved this image, and have thought of it often since we were there.

Probably my favorite find of the day, however, was a statue of Adam and Eve that I found in one of the garden areas. It was profoundly stunning and the detail was just wonderful. It seemed like it captured every part of the story, from the apple to the serpent to the leaves they covered themselves with afterwards. Their faces were captured in just the kind of detail you would expect to find. I loved this so much and took so very many photos of it. This is just one. I found myself walking around and around it, taking detail shots of this part or that part to remember what it looked like.


Wandering still further, I found even more statuary in the gazebo. This was a wonderful fountain that was not running the day we were there, but again, the detail in it was beautiful.  As if the gazebo wasn't just beautiful enough, this little treasure was parked right in the center!

Although I haven't mentioned it yet, Villa Montalvo also boasts pristine landscaping. The day we were there, we saw very few of the gardeners, but I know they were there, pruning, trimming, and making sure everything looked lovely for visitors. It has to take an army to upkeep a property this huge!

As we were preparing to leave, we stumbled on this little path into the forest. We didn't take time to explore it, but it was definitely inviting. I leave you with this image, and invite you to visit Villa Montalvo sometime soon! Oh yes, and they hold small venue concerts there as well, during the warmer months. What a delightful place to see a concert!