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Fate, Roses, Books and just a bit more Fine Arts

Fate, Roses, Books and just a bit more Fine Arts

We are on the motorway

Tim asks what’s the time

2.11 pm, I say

I look up from looking at my watch, and we just at that moment drive past two signs, one after another, with eleven on them.

Today, we are in a charming little town in the region of Le Marche, Italy.

We wonder aimlessly.

I am waiting for the museum to open.

Our timing is not great. It’s during siesta.

From a distance, I see a bookshop

Called Giometti and Antonello publishing

I call to Tim

Check that out; it’s my maiden name.

I make a beeline for the shop

And start chatting to the well-educated young man in the shop.

I tell him where my dad is from, and he tells me it’s the same place where the Giometti he works for is from, too, in Lucca, Tuscany.

He tells me Giometti Publishing is saving long-lost Italian books and poems from being lost forever.

He especially loves the turn-of-the-century Russian poetry; it's like nothing you have ever read. He is so passionate and in love with these books. (I later found out it's called the Golden Age of Poetry)

I gravitate to the most expensive book in the shop without realising it, 500 euro

The etchings in the book are all hand-printed, Beautiful and perfect, protected by parchment paper between each print. I have never seen anything like it.

I'm surprised he lets me look through it.

I ask about showing me books with illustrations. He shows me a few children's books one about a cat that loses its elderly owner and how he goes on many adventures and finally finds a new family to live with. It's cute, but I'm unsure as it's all written in Italian.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what I’m after.

But I’m on a mission.

In the window, there’s a giant old red fine arts book published in Switzerland in 1962,

1st edition

It’s in bad shape; it has some foxing.

We open it up.

And it’s of illustrated roses and bonus, written in English.

My dad had a garden centre when I was growing up.

We would travel to Perth to collect 100s roses from the wholesale nurseries in the hills of Perth.

Melville Roses was always the 1st stop, as he had the best roses.

As a kid, I had a six-pack stomach for many years before anyone talked about having abs.

I had to lift each of those roses and push them down to my dad in the truck, where he would stack them in brick-laying fashion; the more stock, the more profitable the trip would be.

Dad and George Melville would talk for hours on end about roses.

It’s always fascinated me how grown masculine men would love to grow something so pretty, delicate and beautiful to smell.

They would talk about the best fragrance

Hands down, it was Mr Lincoln

The best blooms and how many were on each bush.

The thorns.

The straightness and length of the stems for vases.

The prettiest pink - China doll

Under-stock and how strong it was - Floribunda was the best and still is.

Drought resistance was important for WA water-poor gardens, and Dad would only pick out the best.

I was always given a rose without fail, freshly cut by George or Rudy just before I stepped into the truck. They would search the whole paddock as these were roses sold for retail and had to have tight buds, not flowers on them.

Being seven years old through to my late teens, I thought it was nice, but now I'm older, I think it was one of the nicest things anyone ever did for me as a child.


Diamond jubilee

Grace de Monaco

Christian Dior


Queen Elizabeth

Were all in the book.

Far out, what are the odds?

The book cost 50 euros, but he said I could have it for 25 euros after talking to me.


George Melville passed away many years ago, found in his garden with a pair of secateurs in his hand. He was very wealthy and lived in a beautiful house, but his happy place was always in the garden with dirt on his hands.

He once told my dad and me an unfortunate story about his life.

I can't remember the story, but I can remember the passion in his words and how it made us feel. In the truck on the way to the motel on Albany Highway, we shed tears each time the truck hit a bump, getting to the main road.

People come and go, and there are others you can't forget.

I'm so glad I found this shop; it was so random. This book has brought back so many memories. While I was in Italy, an imaginary compass led us; we planned so little yet made so many connections. I'm so glad we didn't go through a travel agent. Luisa Manea

Luisa Manea standing in front of ruins in Rome ,Italy
Luisa Manea in Italy fine art
a page from a rare old fine arts book in Italy printed in Switzerland
Rose in rare old fine arts book in Italy


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