In the lovely Maria Luisa Park in Seville is a monument to the Spanish poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and his poem Amor Eterno (Eternal Love). The statue depicts three women symbolizing the three states of love, excited love, possessed love and love lost. Behind them are two bronze pieces, ‘wounded love’ and ‘love hurts’ and a lifesize statue of the poet Becquer. The group of female figures is sculpted from a single piece of marble.
The Cypress tree around which the monument is located was planted in 1850, according to some, and in 1870 according to others, and it is one of the individual trees of the Parque de Maria Luisa. The monument can be found along the Avenue de Becquer at the roundabout of the same name.
View from the other side with statue of the poet Becquer and the two bronze figures with the seated females.
Hundreds of trees line the avenues with exotic touches provided by colourful tiled benches and Moorish fountains and pools and there are numerous seats around the park and the famous monument from which to enjoy this beautiful green space close to the River Guadalquivir..
The park was the site of the Expo 29, which had the Plaza de Espana as its centrepiece. My favourite way to see the park is to take a carriage ride through it – and yes, I know it’s a bit touristy and kitschy but nevertheless, it is a magical way to view this park. Large enough never to feel crowded, it is also a delightful place for a quiet stroll, a kids’ runabout, or a boat ride. A more energetic option is a bike for four with sunshade – the front seats have belts to strap wriggly young children in safely. They are for hire in the road opposite Plaza de España.
It was in the small Spanish fishing villages of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar that the torrid romance of Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra played out in the 1950s. More than a romance between singer and actress, this was a passion of operatic proportions played out between the singer, the actress and the matador, because Ava was also having an affair with Catalan matador, Mario Cabré.
In 1950 Sinatra came to Spain to be with Ava who was living in Tossa de Mar while shooting Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. They tried to be discreet about their affair but as the Matador publicly dedicated every bull he killed to Ava, this proved impossible. Sinatra divorced his wife in 1951 and married Ava the same year.
In 1953, the pair split up, but Sinatra came back looking for her at Christmas of that year by which time, Gardner was having an affair with another bullfighter, the famous Luis Miguel Dominguín. Sinatra and Ava made up and moved to Madrid where their life was lived out in public in night-clubs and restaurants, their frequent booze-fuelled fights ensuring the affair remained front-page news. They divorced in 1957.
Gardner became an alcoholic. She had a stroke which left her unable to speak properly and the only person she would speak to in her last years was Frank Sinatra who telephoned her regularly. She said he had always been the love of her life.
Ava’s charm and friendliness won over the people of the two villages and both towns erected a statue to her. The one below is in Tossa de Mar, the one above from Lloret de Mar taken on a visit I made in the early days of this century. I think the Tossa one is more beautiful but the Lloret one was meant to symbolise her role in The Barefoot Contessa.