The Olympic runner standing next to me whispered in my ear “This must look like a joke to you”. He was really trying to get to my sister, standing on the other side of the room, pretending to listen to the old lady recounting facts and anecdotes. He let it casually slip that he was an Olympian (Sydney, 2000, 1,500 meters) while trying to ascertain where we were from and how he could get to my sibling – he eventually did get to her, rather unsuccessfully, may I add.
The “joke” he was referring to was the Adamson House, on the Malibu lagoon that, on this windy and sunny day, I had dragged my mother and sister to, in an effort to show them something they hadn’t seen before. And yes, if you are Italian, looking for history in Los Angeles is a bit of a joke but ancient buildings and Roman ruins are not the reasons why one would come here. Or fall in love with the place for that matter.
I have a soft spot for Malibu (not hard to do) and it was my third visit to the beach house that belonged to the family who used to own the ‘Bu. I stumbled upon it over 12 years ago, while still in the process of spending my week-ends discovering the city I had come to call home. And it’s a charming place, oddly featured in the May issue of Martha Stewart’s Living. The Rindge family, descendants of the Pilgrims, moved west in 1898 and bought a ranch that ran along 26 miles of the Pacific Coast for pennies. The daughter, who went on to marry a Mr Adamson, inherited the whole nine yards and, in the early ’30’s, the couple built this Spanish style house that features amazing tile work throughout, from the tile factory they briefly owned. They also owned a large dairy whose cows grazed on the gigantic property. The house is located on what is now called the Malibu lagoon, with a salt water pool, original furnishings and an impeccably manicured garden. It was donated to the State in the ’80’s and opened as a museum a few years later. Not many people in Los Angeles are familiar with it, unless they are planning to marry and consider the grounds as an option.
Malibu residents are permanently indebted to Mrs Adamson who staunchly opposed the railroad passing through her property. And, indeed, if taking the train from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, the traveller will notice that, on approaching L.A., the railroad leaves the ocean and moves inland, to end up downtown, and then loops back to the coast a few miles outside of town.
Certainly not as impressive as the Sistine Chapel or even some centuries old private homes that are commonplace in Europe but it’s still a little Californian gem, with the added bonus of a killer view, a surfers’ beach where to sit and look at hot guys in black suits and the Cross Creek Malibu center across the street. For a fantastic (and expensive) sandwich the Malibu Kitchen is perfect. For a cheaper sandwich to enjoy on the picnic tables in the public park, try John’s Garden. And if you are in the mood to splurge on dinner surrounded by paparazzi, there is always Nobu.
23200 Pacific Coast Highway – Malibu CA
Tel: 310 456 8432