I grew up in San Pedro, a small town outside of Los Angeles, and spent 3 months of every summer visiting my relatives in Ischia, an even smaller town (an island actually) off the coast of Naples in Italy. My name is a multi-syllable collection of letters that sound like music in Italian – RO-ZAWN-NAW FOO-NEE-CHEE-YEH-LOW – If you say it fast, it’s not so awkward.
Growing up I went by Rosie… ironically very feminine for a little tomboy who wore a dress only on required occasions. With three brothers and most the kids on our street being boys, I got dirty every day, and was always kinda rough despite my small size and surprisingly blunt, despite my sweet nature. I went to business school and had a great job working for one of “the Big 4″ for several years. And then I met this really cute guy from the east coast whose name couldn’t have been any more American: Kevin Smith. Really? Of all the last names in the world, I fell in love with a Smith? Yes, yes indeed, I did. This guy was (is!) the perfect balance between city and country, rustic and refined, white collar and green thumb. For more than 15 years, I have proudly introduced myself as Rosanna Funiciello SMITH. How’s that for a juxtaposition?
Since I lived in California and he lived here in Virginia, much of our courtship unfolded via the telephone and email. We flew back and forth every 6 weeks or so and within 6 months, he asked me to marry him. Within the next 8 months, we had 2 big engagement parties (one on each coast), 2 beautiful bridal showers (one on each coast), and one big wedding in California, all while still living on opposite coasts, and somehow fulfilling our respective job obligations.
After the honeymoon, I packed a suitcase with clothes and moved to the beautiful East Coast, into Kevin’s childhood, a tiny farmhouse in Northern Virginia, located on a dirt road that was named for his Great-Great-Grandfather. Charming and peaceful (and full of squirrels!), it often reminds me of the simpler lifestyle of my Italian relatives. The farmhouse hadn’t changed much since 1974 when Kevin and his parents moved there, so when we were courting, he would tell me stories about the land, and how few cars drove by, about the antiques in the house and in the barns. This antique corn sheller, was a gift from his beloved grandmother.
Kevin actually used this hand-cranked farm implement when he was a little boy to prepare the feed for his fowl. His Grandpa Smith, who lived down the same road, raised the corn on the family farm, let it dry in the corn crib, and then each day, Kevin would run cobs through this machine to separate the kernels from the cob so he could feed all the hundred or so chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese… his friends, as he called them, since he was an only child and there were barely any people around here back then. After years of sitting in the shed it had fallen into disrepair, and his Dad surprised him with its restoration one weekend when he came from college! Around here, things with flaws, dust and dents, are repaired and brought back to life, not discarded.
Stories like these, and so many others about the history of the stuff in and around the little farmhouse had me falling head over heels in love with this guy. Lucky for me, I don’t have to do any of the dirty farm jobs like clean the chicken coop or feed the pigs. At the Villa Smith Farmette, as it is now affectionately called, I get to cook the food we grow in our garden, collect the fresh eggs, decorate the tiny farmhouse (over and over and over again!) and my favorite, host al fresco dinner parties (al fresco because the house is too small for inside parties)!
Villa Smith Farmette
Between my experiences in Italy and falling in love with Kevin, I see things and places with an appreciation for patina, character and a story. So I keep squirrelling away those treasures so they can continue to “tell stories”. for generations to come. All this to tell you that I fell in love with antiques and vintage stuff because I fell in love with a cute guy from a rural little haven in Northern Virginia, where a sense of history and place enriches us every day.