Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A 17th-Century House Bathed in Provencal Light ; 5 Bedrooms, 3 Baths, with an Italian Courtyard and Some Special Views

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

A 17th-Century House Bathed in Provencal Light ; 5 Bedrooms, 3 Baths, with an Italian Courtyard and Some Special Views

Article excerpt

The former convent still has its Italian mosaic floors and a central courtyard.

Sylvia Napier and Radcliffe McCormick have spent their lives as antiques dealers and collectors, finding curios like the Afghan wedding dress and the New England dollhouse now on display in their home.

But even before any of their furnishings were in place, their initial view of the former convent was "love at first sight," said Mrs. Napier, a Boston expatriate. "From the exquisite Italian mosaic floors, which sprawl the entire expanse of the ground floor, to the Italianesque courtyard, around which the entire house is constructed, everything resonated 'wow."'

In 2000 the couple purchased the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home, which dates to the 17th century. It has 270 square meters, or 2,906 square feet, of living space and 90 square meters of terraces, one of which features a small tower.

The terraces wrap around the upper levels of the home, connecting this maze-like property and guaranteeing that the house is bathed in Provencal light year-round. "Van Gogh would have loved it," said Mrs. Napier, referring to one of Arles's most famous former residents. And so, they hope, might someone else.

The house, where the couple generally lives about five months of the year, has been listed for sale at an undisclosed price with Emile Garcin Immobilier. Mrs. Napier and her husband, who is English, feel they cannot keep it up any longer.

Made of stone, the house stands on the same rise where the Romans built an amphitheater and arena. "Both of these World Heritage sites are within spitting distance of our house and visible from our terrace," said Mrs. Napier, adding that there also are views of the Alpilles mountains. "Our home is the highest residence in town."

The house's living spaces are connected by worn stone staircases built in the early 17th century, when the convent was connected to the St. …

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