Click read more for the rest of the post, and a photo gallery from our visit!
Not knowing what a visual treat we were in for, I only brought the crappier of my two cameras on our visit; my photos unfortunately don’t do the villa justice at all. Its patterned tiled floors, many-windowed parlors, high ceilings and hanging lamps—even its interior paint colors—had me in fits of “OOOOoooooo, look at this room!!!” exclamations (to which Aaron nodded, “Very nice”). It’s a stunning house, inside and out. We made our way through its rooms, stopping to take in the artwork and talk about colors and whatnot with Kaspar, and then headed outside for a “quick” look around.
We ended up exploring for an additional hour.
Manicured gardens directly surround the mansion. They’re rented out for wedding parties and other glossy functions, and there’s no mystery as to why (in fact, I suggested to Aaron that we take advantage, and renew our vows on the site in August… we’ll have been married for two years… perhaps a little pre-emptive). They’re beautiful, boasting an impressive sculpture collection, bulb-lights hung in delicate webs above the entire expanse, and uncontained peacocks strolling along in the shade. Beyond the gardens, however, running along a mile-long section of Lake Austin’s perimeter, there extend several paths. They wind just enough, and are walled and covered by just enough fauna, that, walking along, one can’t see more than twenty or thirty feet ahead. We found ourselves at a small gazebo-type structure, encircled by benches and a large wrought iron fence (purchased by Driscoll from the state), at the end of one path, . Another path leads down to a more open area surrounded by amphiteater-like tiers of terraced land… I’m sure there’s a story behind this that a tour guide will be happy to fill you in on should you visit. We marveled at the majesty of it all, divided an orange three ways, and watched a family of swans (baby swans! I kid you not) float across the water. Above it all, Clara Driscoll’s palm fronds rustled together in an enchanting, synesthetic whisper of a breeze.
So, no doubt, this was a family field-trip score. The collection’s small size was actually just right in terms of Kaspar’s art-appreciation threshold, which allowed us to actually enjoy the pieces rather than juggle babyman meltdowns in a public place. The outdoor expanse then allowed for us all to explore, and play, together in a beautiful setting, and although it’s generally been far too hot this month to spend much time outdoors in the middle of the day, the paths, lawns and gardens at Laguna Gloria provide ample shade for outdoor activity, even in the heat. The site is also home to a sizeable art school, which offers hundreds of programs for community members of all ages (definitely planning to follow up on that once Kaspar gets past the finger-paints). Laguna Gloria is an Austin gem, and in fact has been declared a National Treasure. If you’re in the area, or pass through, I wholeheartedly recommend discovering its riches for yourself.