Gulf of Solanto, Sicily, Italy
A house located close to one of Sicily’s most beautiful bodies of water, the Gulf of Solanto, is surrounded by vegetation and has a most evocative sea view from its terrace. ‘For the design of the house, we wanted to make sure that it did not look like a new construction but like a restoration of something which already existed, similar to the local historic architecture, which is immersed in nature,’ says architect Antonio D’Andrea, who designed the house’s residential architecture with partner Ignacio Mallol.
Not many miles east of Palermo, the area is rich in ancient structures from the pre-Christian era. One nearby city, Punich, has cobbled streets as well as Hellenistic and Roman houses with wall paintings. ‘Like the region’s ancient structures, the house is not an isolated block, but is meant to be like a little village of the region’s ancient structures,’ D’Andrea explains. ‘Many elements of the house are connected to one another with arched passages which join the central house to the sides as well as to stone stairs which descend into the vegetation,’ D’Andrea continues. ‘We used local materials, especially the golden-yellow tufa stone from the seventeenth century, which was hand-worked by a restorer for the exterior of the house. For the interior walls, an encaustic material was used which gives the sensation of old walls stained by time, weather and the salt air.’
Realized on diverse levels, the plan of the house focuses primarily on the salon on the upper floor.
The room’s facade, formed of three arches crowned with two volutes, creates a large porch which opens the house to the terrace overlooking the sea. A gazebo offers a
table and chairs to rest or dine by the water, and a big pine tree – saved during construction – appears like an umbrella, protecting the outdoor lounging area. During the evenings, the area is illuminated by bronze lanterns.
The interiors emanate a sense of the Antique.
There is painted Sicilian furniture from the seventeenth century, including a wooden table simulating a stack of books, and local sixteenth-century and contemporary earthenware and ceramic vases. In addition to the colours of the tufa walls and terracotta flooring, the predominant hues of the interiors are of coral and tropical fruit. ‘Walnut beams give the high ceilings a sense of lightness and total fusion with the trees outside,’ says D’Andrea. Another attempt to make the inside appear like the outside is the large arched window in the master bedroom which opens to the pool area.’ Bordered in tufa, the pool was designed in the irregular shape of the inlet below the house. From the house, it seems like a step towards the sea; it is located near the rocks, so that from certain aspects the two seem to be parts of each other.
‘You can live here year-round because of the favourable climate,’ observes D’Andrea. ‘The sea is limpid blue without strong currents, and it is so warm that it makes swimming very pleasurable. In this place, the local perfume of lemons and mandarins is intoxicating, and there is the sensation of quietness and well-being. Because of the ancient and timeless character of the place, you can nearly imagine the mythical Ulysses sailing by on the waters of the beautiful Gulf of Solanto.’