We can never resist a good story at BoutiqueHomes. After all, the soul of a home is the life that it has seen. Here’s our pick of four properties with heart and history, present and future, and tales to tell.
I Conversi in The Abbey of San Giusto Tuscania, Italy
Six hundred years ago, the Abbey of San Giusto was home to the Cistercian order, known for their expertise in working land and water. Legend has it that the irresistible trappings of the land had led to a lapse in monastic discipline, and so the abbey was emptied and fell into ruin, only to be adopted by a shepherd and his wandering sheep. In 1990, Mauro Checcoli, a Bolognese engineer better known for his Olympic gold medal in horse-riding, came upon the ruin, acquired it from the shepherd, and thus began another era of devotion — a loving and arduous restoration to return it to its 12th-century splendor that spanned 25 years, two generations and a good measure of that beautiful kind of crazy. Today, the abbey (pictured above and top) welcomes lovers of art, history, and nature, eager to share its story.
Villa Olivi Treia, Le Marche, Italy
On the last day of a week of house hunting in Le Marche, Swiss architects Markus Wespi and Jérôme de Meuron pulled up at the ruins of a 300-year-old farmhouse and found exactly what they were looking for. Partly consumed by a fire in 1995, the walls stood quietly amidst the rubble of a crumbling roof and cindered interiors. The idea of losing this beautiful piece of history moved the Italian Cultural and History Administration to take it under its wing and oversee the restoration into which Markus and Jérome poured their imagination. From the ashes, they built a whitewashed interior, clean, minimal and modern, while preserving its ancient shell, and named the farmhouse after Giovanni Olivi, the man who turned the dovecote on their little farm.
Numero Venti Rm.4 Florence, Italy
A story of the present and the future, set in a beautiful past… Martino di Napoli Rampolla was working as a graphic designer between Belgium and Barcelona, but always felt drawn back to Florence. After an event in a beautiful empty palazzo, he got together with Andrew Totter, interior designer and editor of OpenHouse magazine, to make something of the space for the creative community, and so began their story of hosting artists and exhibitions. Today, the palazzo is Numero Venti, an artists’ residence, atelier, exhibition space, and a set of beautifully fitted apartments set beneath faded frescoes and soaring ceilings. The apartments invite guests to unwind in a reflective space conducive to creation. Proceeds from the rental are reinvested into the residency program to fund artists and artistic development throughout the city.
Priory Grounds Eye, Suffolk, UK
The theme of ruins and rebirth continues with Priory Grounds, now in its third life. Once the priory of Benedictine monks in the 11th century, it fell into ruin after dissolution and lived a second life as farm buildings. In 2006, it became the object of the affection of fashion director Olivia Pomp and her art director husband Gary Rowland who saw great potential in its tumbling frames. Five years of renovations later, the property was transformed into a six-bedroom country home fitted with eco-friendly energy sources.