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Villa Diodati

June 27, 2011

We got into our car in Talloires and drove to Geneva straight to Byron’s Villa on the hill, as though we knew where we were going, which we did not. My son was the navigator and I was the driver. When we got to Cologny, we stopped and parked at precisely the right spot, walked back down the hill to a little road, not much more than a glorified bike path, Chemin de Ruth, and peered over a stone wall at a stucco colored house with green shutters that had a sign saying no publicitee s.v.p. It looked familiar. And it was — from all my google earthing of the last few years. There was the plaque: “Lord Byron lived here one summer.” He didn’t, however. He lived in the house in front, which is far nicer. Green shutters, a pillared porch, pink roses, lavender, a pebbly driveway and a big iron gate. There was a long sign telling the story of Mary and Frankenstein and a meadow and a few stray tourists who seemed to be there for the sun and the view rather than a pilgrimage to a Mary Shelley site. As for me, I did get that strange, shivery feeling; the only thing separating me from the characters in my book was time. They clambered up and down this hill, looked at those mountains — which one was Mont Blanc? This is where Byron’s young friend, who had a crush on Mary, sprained an ankle leaping from that porch to help Mary up the hill.

We got very lost trying to get out of Geneva.

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