At the Registry Office and on the tax code card, my name is Cornelia Carbonara, out of respect for the tradition of naming children after grandparents. Cornelia was indeed my grandmother’s name, but… everybody began immediately to call me Ornella, maybe because the singer Ornella Vanoni was very popular at the time.
There were people who called this way their cat, or boat. Besides, it had a connection with the word corna (horns in Italian, avere le corna means being cuckolded): in short, I considered it completely unsuitable to me, a little girl weighing 40 kg, who didn’t want to grow up.
The only good thing of that name was my grandma, who smelled of butter and was so soft and charming.
Over the years, I overcame this problem, to the point that I almost felt proud of that name, when a teacher explained to me the story of the Mother of the Gracchi: Cornelia’s sons proposed a reform to distribute the conquered lands to the poor, and, for this reason, they were murdered.
At present, I feel neutral about that name. I appreciate the story of the Gracchi and their brave mother, but the lands were conquered lands, stolen to someone else, and now I don’t like Ancient Romans that much.
Anyway, I’m more accustomed to “Ornella”, so, call me “Ornella”, please.
Well, I was born away back in 1956 in Brindisi, here I attended school and began to work as an accountant, and later as an artisan.
In 1980 two friends and I opened a very nice workshop in the harbor area, where we made every sort of items: Carnival costumes, leather sandals, paintings, and anything could be inspired by imagination.
My studies had nothing to do with this job, but art has always been my passion, with its colors and materials. My friends were generous teachers, we made giant steps and were known as “the witches” for what we were able to create.
But life always changes, and, above all, men come on the scene. So, the first friend went away, the other one became a mother, and I met Carlo, who came from the Province of Rome…
I closed down, I left Brindisi, and some time later we got married and had a daughter, Giulia.
I have happy memories of those years in Guidonia di Montecelio, especially the walks in the woods, or in the wonderful back-country small villages, with our two vegetarian friends, who were very expert at picking herbs and plants. I already knew some herbs, since I come from a farming family, but Pedro and Antonella were unbeatable and they left me this other passion.
In 1992, Carlo’s job in Rome was no more safe, so we decided to come back to Brindisi and restore the ground-floor of my father’s old house, to make it the location of the Malvasia Club, a cultural association. We hosted the best local artists and organized many events for several years: the Carnival in 1998-99, the Night of the Poets, the Umba Paccia Night, and so on.
Unfortunately, this experience was destined to end, too, and we had to face a new change. According to the new regulations, the club location was unsuitable, for being too small.
So, we had the idea of the Malvasia Bed & Breakfast: we joined our forces and restored the first floor, too, and gave birth to this new creature.
We came back to Brindisi from Guidonia twenty years ago, and during the last ten years I also worked as a ceramics teacher for many courses and realized wonderful projects, both with children and adults, that still fill me with enthusiasm.
Giulia has grown up, now she lives in Lecce, where she attends the Scenic Design Courses at the Academy of Arts. She inherited our passions, and is very talented.
In the springtime, I always go picking wild asparagus with Carlo, and Chica, our marvelous “foxy dog”, comes with us.