Bidding our friend Marianne adieu in Bristol, we pointed our Mazda 6 rental car down to Route 114, and crossed the Newport Bridge that led to Newport. Even though I had attended a conference in Newport in 2002, I could hardly call myself weary of its grandeur. And grandeur Newport has in spades. Our friend Bob had put us in touch with a grand dame of Newport named Joan who rented us her picturesque carriage house, conveniently located across Bellevue Avenue from The Newport Mansions. After enjoying witty repartee with Joan, we dined at a local bistro, and then turned in. We wanted to be fresh and alert for mansion touring.
The Preservation Society of Newport County is the gatekeeper for Newport’s national treasures of the bygone wealthy. Their “summer homes”, The Breakers, The Elms, Marble House, Chateau-sur-Mer, and Rosecliff [think Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby; parts of the movie were filmed at Rosecliff, most notably the ballroom scene] are my mansions of choice. The Cliff Walk provided us with more scenic views of the ocean.
The Breakers tops my Top 10 Newport Mansions chart. Richard Morris Hunt designed the 16th century style, 70-room, Italian Renaissance palazzo for Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The Breakers boasts 65,000 square feet and includes breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean from the upper loggia. Italian artisans laid the intricate mosaic tiles that illuminate the loggia’s ceiling. Other elegant touches are the Carrara marble fireplaces throughout The Breakers. All in all, The Mansions are not too shabby.
After much mansion viewing one day, we drove leisurely up Ocean Drive past Jacqueline Kennedy’s former estate. We drank in the views of Narragansett Bay from our table in the Sunset Room at Castle Hill. Eating pan roasted scallops, crab cakes, and a Narragansett Bay Cobb Salad, while taking in the panoramic views of the Bay through the curved glass windows only heightened the sartorial pleasure of the food itself. Sailboats bobbed up and down in the Bay. This unplanned dining experience almost broke the vacation bank, but the seafood and Narragansett Bay were worth the expense, or so I rationalized it. Newport certainly put the wind in my sails again for the sheer joy that is Newport, RI.
Ciao for now.