(Ph. © Bob Coscarelli/Lonny)It’s not every day you get to renovate a palazzo—much less one in the village of your maternal ancestors. But Patrizio Fradiani, an Italian-born architect and designer whose specialty is bringing historic homes back to life in unexpected ways, did just that.
Located an hour and a half south of Florence in the Umbrian town of Monteleone d’Orvieto, the medieval structure, now reborn as a luxury rental known as Mazzini 31, was an aristocratic dwelling in the 1800s but had been carved up into humbler apartments since its heyday. Uninhabited since the 1980s, the dark and dingy residence was in a serious state of disrepair when Fradiani and his partner, Mark, purchased it in 2012. Yet it didn’t take long for the couple’s leap of faith to pay off. Once the restoration began in earnest and hundreds of years’ worth of plaster, paint, and wallpaper were peeled away, an abundance of frescoes revealed themselves on the ceilings and walls of almost every room.
The overarching vision: to bring “new light into the space in every sense.” In contrast to the old-world atmosphere created by the frescoed walls and original terrazzo floors, Fradiani installed contemporary design elements such as a translucent corridor of glowing chartreuse glass. The decor strikes a balance between streamlined and ornate—a sleek white sectional is juxtaposed with an intricately carved fireplace and gilt-framed mirror in the living room, and a crystal chandelier is suspended in a bathroom above a modern soaking tub. Moments of humor and idiosyncrasy surface throughout: white shag stools, towel hooks shaped like bull heads, even the occasional dinosaur figurine. One thing is certain—this is one renovation that's sure to keep showing up on our Pinterest pages.
*Adapted from Palace of Memory by Karen Valentine.