AN ITALIAN-BORN PHOTOGRAPHER CREATES A WARM-WEATHER RETREAT FOR HER FAMILY
"When I told my European friends I bought a house in Palm Beach, they were shocked," says photographer Priscilla Rattazzi Whittle. Born in Rome—her uncle was Fiat magnate Gianni Agnelli—she moved to the U.S. in 1974, eventually settling in New York. Two years ago she envisioned buying a warm-weather retreat for her family—husband Chris Whittle, founder of the Channel One satellite TV network and the private charter school company Edison Schools, as well as former publisher of Esquire magazine; her three children, Maxi, Andrea and Sasha and her two beloved dogs, Luna and Lola. At first she considered Mustique and Harbour Island, but when some of her friends (this writer included) started buying houses in the Palm Beach area, her sister, Delfina, advised, "Get a place where you have friends—you will never regret it." Thus, the hunt was on in South Florida.
"I started corresponding with a real estate agent over the Internet," Priscilla recalls. "I made an appointment with him to show me a few things over Presidents' Day weekend in 2006. We drove by 'Little Italy'"—the name she has given to her Palm Beach home—"on the way to the second place he showed me." The Bermuda-style house reminded her instantly of Italy: the large, louvered shutters, the bougainvillea, the many doors opening onto the gardens. It was love at first sight.
Priscilla called Chris from the house and convinced him it was so appropriate he didn't need to see it. "'You can play golf, it's easy to get to—and the cell phones will work!'" she remembers telling him. Forty-eight hours later, the house was theirs—a typical transaction for the Whittles. "We are impulse buyers," she says. "But we never regret our real estate decisions."