When we first saw the kitchen at N’orma, a beautifully restored baglio in Sicily, we were really intrigued by its kitchen. With its mezzanine floor, ancient underfloor piping and the curious tools decorating its walls, this was clearly no ordinary room. So we asked owner and interior designer Andreina Iebole to walk us through its history and transformation. Here’s what she told us about her palmento kitchen.
“This room was once the typical palmento, a peasant working place. Grapes were introduced from the window. Instead of the steel counter, there was the press, and those pipes, now closed, allowed the grape must [juice from pressed grapes] to flow into the large tanks below.
“We purposely left the walls and the ceiling blackened because they testify to the work of those who preceded us. Ricotta cheese was also made in this place, and that’s why a fire was lit here and blackened the surfaces. But there are also signs on the walls. They were made with the small tool on the right behind and upon the basket.
“The old owners were illiterate and ‘wrote’ on the wall with lines the quantity of cheese or wine produced and the days worked. It is a humble and simple house whose memory was necessary for us. The memory of a life that does not belong to us but that is testimony to this area.”
“This old black-and-white photo taken before the beginning of the restoration shows what the palmento looked like. Today, the palmento is the entrance to the house. The lower level is the place where we welcome guests on a long Shaker table on wheels by De Padova.
“Once you have passed the tanks containing the must covered by a steel grid, you can go up two steps to the real kitchen area. It is a long and narrow area, which is why we chose to hang the folding tables. The steel counter is 6m long, one part made to my design and the other with induction burners, and the sink is a Bulthaup island counter.
“Part of the right wall, the one on the highest level, was demolished to build the kitchen. The beam that supports the wall intersects another one 7m long which contains a long neon light that illuminates the entire work area.
“The tools on the left [of the main image] are new. One is a large wooden hammer that we use to close the old window shutters. The other is a large wooden cutting board made by one of our dear friends on which we place sausages and salami when guests have breakfast. The small, tall table on the left is a lectern. When we organize cooking lessons or for an aperitif near the stove, we open the two white folding tables on the wall, which are made by Moormann.”
This is a really inspiring space that merges a fascinating history with elegant and practical design features. To experience the palmento kitchen for yourself, book a stay at N’orma here.