A garage in Trastevere, Rome, which is now a gorgeous loft. This is not an Italian movie story but reality, thanks to the taste and imagination of Ginevra Petrone. In an ancient carrozeria (garage), she and her architect built La Soffitta Trastevere. The pair tried to catch the particular light of this part of Trastevere, one of the most famous (and most lively) Roman boroughs. Doing this, they gave new life not only to this building but also to an old wall of bricks and marble built in 1640 by a pope. A living wall for plants and pretty flowers along the property, it turns yellow in the spring, green in the summer and red or pink in the winter. The color of light is never the same in this quiet and private loft. We met Ginevra in Rome with her manager, Lorraine Mollica, an American photographer who fell in love with the eternal city.
Ginerva, when we are inside your loft, we just can’t imagine that this place was an Italian garage full of Vespas and Fiat Cinquecentos! How did you transform it?
Ginevra Petrone: “To be honest, the first time I came here, six years ago, everything was very, very dirty and dark. At that time, I thought to myself: come on, it’s not possible here! What the hell am I doing here…? Even if it’s part of Trastevere, it’s very quiet, which was very important for me. So I showed this place to an architect friend, and he told me that it was possible to open large windows in the roof and along this old wall which is very nice. For me, the most important thing was the silence and the light, so I decided to play with it.”
The light is sometimes very strong in Rome, especially during the spring and summer. In your loft, a particular environment makes the light different and softer. What is it?
GP: “During the year, the light changes in this place. For example, during the summer, this wall is totally green, with many herbs and small plants. It turns green inside… Sometimes, flowers appear, and it turns more yellow inside. In the winter, the color of the original Roman brick brought out by lighting alone.”
Lorraine Mollica: “At night, it becomes very romantic too because when it’s dark, it’s like candlelight. It’s the reflection of the street light on the wall. It’s a kind of magic.”
The decoration seems very personal. Is it like this in your own home?
GP: “My goal was to create a cool and relaxed place to stay, far from the touristic agitation of the town. The idea is: just feel at home here! I have candlesticks, so use them if you want. The best way to enjoy this place is to feel at home. It’s true, this loft does look like my home. I’m originally from Naples, and I brought some furniture from my family house there. Many framed pictures are souvenirs from my travels around the world.”
Lorraine, your touch here is also very personal. Thanks to you, guests can enjoy authentic Roman food. Can you explain?
LM: “Guests can take a tailor-made cooking course right in their very own Trastevere home if they want. They can sip wine, listen to relaxing music and learn how to make typical Roman dishes in a fun-filled setting. After creating the dishes with a patient chef, guests are served a three-course dinner, which could also be with wine-tasting tips given by a sommelier. Alternatively, if guests just prefer to sit back, relax and eat after a day of sightseeing, they can opt to have a dinner prepared for them, paired with an Italian wine selection — and skip the class! I’m here to help to translate, to prepare the table… I wanted to make the dinners vey special.”
You make ceramics together, and we can see some of them here in your loft. Your guests can even buy them. Why is creativity important for you?
GP: “I am a former art director in advertising so I like creativity. I make ceramics because it’s relaxing and at the same time it’s a total art. I mean, you have to draw, you have to shape, you have to create and at the end, you have a surprise when you take the object from the oven… The surprise of your art and nature. It’s complete creativity!”
LM: “I make special pottery like dinnerware with my own hands, and it’s very creative! This town is a very special place in terms of light and in terms of weather… There is no weather on earth like here. The sky is always blue. But it’s still also a magical place in terms of art and creativity. I’m a photographer too, and I find photos everywhere here, looking down the street. There is a special kind of energy and creativity here which is crazy… Rome is still Rome!”
To stay at La Soffitta Trastevere, click here.