Paola is famous in Bellezza for being the finest lacemaker, and also very knowledgeable in the "language of lace," which she also taught her daughters Valeria and Silvia. She lives with her husband Gentile on the lagoon island of Burlesca in the only white house amongst the many colourful houses on the island. Though she has been a mother and then grandmother to a Duchessa, she has little desire to live in any place other than the little white house she has resided in for fifty years. Paola is also shrewd observer of human emotions, often perceiving things most people would dismiss.
Paola's services as a lacemaker garner her a great deal of customers, including Giuliana Massi, who carelessly reveals a number of details regarding an assassination that her fiance, Enrico Poggi, is planning for Silvia Bellini. Paola sends Silvia a message in lace, telling her the di Chimici's plan, which saves Silvia's life.
At her granddaughter's request, Paola also sews the wedding gown of Francesca di Chimici, a friend of the young duchessa. Paola is also chosen as the dressmaker for her granddaughter when Arianna is to marry Luciano Crinamorte. During her dressmaking sessions with Arianna, Silvia also accompanies them and discloses to her mother that she wishes to publically reveal that she was not assassinated as the Bellezzan citizens believe.
While sewing Arianna's dress, Paola finds the trousseau of Giuliana, which included the silver that Giuliana had been saving up. The decision is made to give the silver to Giuliana's surviving family and the news behind Giuliana's fate; however, Giuliana's father, Vittorio Massi, does not take the silver and fixates himself on taking revenge on Rinaldo di Chimici for his role in Giuliana's death. Paola appears again at the end of the novel, attending Arianna's wedding with the rest of Arianna's family and friends.
"Outside the front door sat an old woman dressed in black. She had pure white hair..." She is a highly skilled lace-maker. She can even send messages through her lace, and she taught her daughters how to read it.