Make Mine a Palazzo!

Make mine a palazzo! -Is my motto, here in the Indian-Summer of life. Having grown up with the sensible Scandinavian aesthetic of rural Gustavian, and Palladian architecture, I have, in latter years, developed a passione for everything palazzo-related. Maybe it’s the natural progression of things… I already had a preference for colourful homes, in fact, I have never been able to live in those typically Scandinavian 1980s-2010s minimalist’ish, white-washed apartments, with dingy flea-market artifacts, and graphic design posters bought at random (that hold no relation to family history, or even just a profound connection to one’s soul –or a personalised aesthetic. The blandness of this “style” offends me. I cannot bear this unoriginality of the eye! – I am in a tempestuous mood today, giving it all sorts of sass. I do apologise: censorship would have been favourable), that people here are still so fond of. Blame it, maybe, on my Italian heritage, the risotto-gene is strong in this one! … Whatever it is, there is something about ceilings that go on forever, the endless possibilities in decorating a series of grand rooms, and catering to the sort of views to Italy, from which the fabric of dreams is spun.

There is a romanticism to the palazzo, that appeals to the middle-aged sensitivity. The looking back at history, one’s own as well as our European one, living inside it, reviving what is lost, dusting off the old, the art, the craftsmanship, the architecture, and the undeniable, almost unbearable, heart-wrenching, and life-affirming beauty of Italy… I simply cannot let go of my palazzo dreams. They have seeped into my innermost being, and clung themselves to the walls of my soul, forever. So, please, Caro Dio, do make mine a palazzo! Let me have a view to the old-world grandeur of Centro Storico, a roof-terrace from which I can sip rosé at dusk, surrounded by laughter, and loved ones. A place where I can look back on a life well-lived, wine well-spilled, and feel I am enveloped in la grande bellezza.

Here is one of my favourite palazzo apartments. A delicately restored, and cleverly decorated Italian home owned by filmmaker Luca Guadagnino. You know him, and his formidable eye, from films such as I am LoveA Bigger Splash, and the soon to be released, Call Me By Your Name. His home, a 300m2 apartment (not too big, not too small), on the second floor of a 17th Century palazzo, sits in the heart of Crema (40 minutes from Milano). Guadagnino designed the space himself, and it is the perfect mix of ancient and modern.

Italians just do it better. 

An exterior view of the palazzo.
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On the sideboard, a 1920s porcelain dog by Gio Ponti for Richard Ginori and Hermès glasses.
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A Tibetan tapestry hangs over a Hästens bed in the master bedroom, with Castellini chairs covered in Dedar fabric and curtains of Hermès fabric.
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Guadagnino says his next house will have a garden.
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Guadagnino in front of a distressed mirrored panel of his design.
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The property had been empty for 40 years before Guadagnino spent six months renovating it. With the help of painters, he created custom paint colors for each room.
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Guadagnino says he enjoys hosting, and casts dinner parties as carefully as his films. I’d like an invitation, please.
Light floods the loggia, on the second floor of the palazzo. Gio Ponti Superleggera chairs by Cassina flank the dining table, with vintage Danish chairs in the foreground. The ornately painted door is original to the building.
The director Luca Guadagnino’s exquisitely art-directed movies have become something of an obsession among interior designers. But his ultimate set is his own apartment in a 17th-century palazzo outside of Milan. In the dining room, John Gould prints over a Florence Knoll sofa in Loro Piana cashmere, chairs by Enzo Mari for Hermès, 19th-century church candlesticks mounted as lamps and a La Manufacture Cogolin rug.
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A fishtail palm with a backdrop of Farrow & Ball wallpaper in the black bathroom.
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In the living room, the original frescoed ceiling and terracotta tiles uncovered during renovation, sofa and chairs by Piero Castellini covered in C&C Milano fabrics and a La Manufacture Cogolin rug. Guadagnino worked with the painters to hand-mix the color of the walls.
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A Lebanese cedar towers over the palazzo and the quiet street.
Images from New York Times T Magazine (as well as caption text) • Photographs by Mikael Olsson



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