Author: Frank Palescandolo
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During a summer stay at Sorrento, Italy, as a guest of the Commune of Sorrento, I was booked at the Hotel Parco dei Principi. On the premises is a botanical garden, and the lovely pink, and white Baroque Villa Cortchakov, built by the Bourbon Prince Siracusa, in 1792, later owned by Prince Constantine Cortchakov. So, the Park of the Princes. The villa stands alone, unoccupied. Why did the Prince go mad there, in his arms his dead Hungarian mistress, Tania? What role did the gardener-herbalist-shaman Father Zacharias play in this tragedy? What was the nature of that elixir brewed by him called Perenne Amore, or Everlasting Love? When there are no answers, only a teasing Arcanum, then imagination leaps to entwine the villa in a plot of fated loves, the presence of archaic coca leaf, and the green, somber consciousness of the fabulous garden, All secrets are now lurid folklore. How can a visiting novelist reject this bait? He can't. He begins to write this novel sitting at a table on the maiolica tiled terrace facing the fabulous Bay of Naples, The Villa Cortchakov over his right shoulder bemused at the suspicions and speculations of the enraptured stranger, whose socks are unmatched, sipping a chilled vodka.