On an enchanted island, Paolo Andrich opens the doors to his artist house
Torcello (Venice) – Some people choose to live in Torcello, the small Venetian island where watching one season slide quietly into another is the best “film” to see. Through the windows of his art-filled home, Paolo Andrich watches autumn turn the leaves yellow, winter coat the sage with frost, and spring ignite the colors of the flowers, announcing summer.
Whoever has read Across the River and Into the Trees by Earnest Hemingway probably remembers that the famous American writer began to write his celebrated novel right here on this island. Who knows? Maybe he, too, considered it a paradise on Earth, just like
Paolo Andrich, one of the ten people who have the great fortune to live here. An urban planner by trade, Andrich lives as a farmer here in Torcello. A decade ago he made a life change in order to reside full-time on the island, grow purple artichokes and await the fruits of the jujube, chestnuts, oaks, pines, and hazelnuts, which, beneath the beating wings of flamingos and herons, remind us all to sanctify a slower pace of life.
Casa Andrich is easy to get to: from Venice, take the ferry (il vaporetto) toward Torcello and a few steps from the landing point, an arrow tells you to turn left and then down an overgrown footpath. Many end up there by chance, read the sign with details about the guided visits (5 Euros for the exterior and grounds, 12 Euros for the grounds and the interior of the house), and ring the bell. Paolo Andrich arrives and begins the visit by accompanying the tourists to the small green hill of his garden, which overlooks the great “stage” of the Venetian Lagoon. “Velma (the area visible during low tide), salt marsh and island: the three layers of the lagoon that emerge and disappear with the tides, are the foundations of Venice and the islands that surround us”, he says.Andrich was born in Biel Bienne, Switzerland, is fluent in Italian and French, and speaks English well. For his work as an urban planner, he lived in France and has traveled the world. In 2003, after the loss of his uncle, artist Lucio Andrich, he gave up everything and came to live in Torcello – on the island his uncle and his wife, Clementina De Luca, who died in 1982, had chosen so as to dedicate themselves to art.
Entering his house, decorated in its entirety with the artwork of artists Lucio Andrich and Clementina De Luca, one enters the life of one of Torcello’s ten inhabitants. Paolo Andrich is also one of the central characters in the documentary film “Habitat#Torcello,” which three young Venetian filmmakers are currently shooting on the island. Andrea Baesso, Christian Palazzo, and Gianmaria Spavento have devoted themselves to the creation of a documentary film about Torcello that recounts the daily life of the island’s ten residents.
In the trailer for “Habitat#Torcello,” Andrich explains in a single sentence why he decided to live here: “It is the most beautiful place in the world.”