Modernity with a retro taste
Located in the Lombardy countryside to the south of Milan, Vizzolo Predabissi is known not just for its curious name but also for the presence of the Basilica of Santa Maria in Calvenzano, whose 12th-century Romanesque style belies much older origins. It is here that the great philosopher Boethius is believed to have written his famous work „The Consolation of Philosophy“ while he was a prisoner of the Ostrogothic King Theodoric the Great, who had him executed in 525. The church conserves in its apse a magnificent fourteenth-century fresco depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, and is also important for its construction methods, which combine running bond brickwork with use of the „opus spicatum“ technique. This method involves arranging the bricks in a herringbone pattern and produces a decorative effect while allowing bricks originating from previously demolished or collapsed buildings to be used. This brief foray into building history brings us to the theme of this article, a visit to a home in the village (population 4,000). The house, extending over three levels (including mezzanine) is part of a radically renovated rural building whose ancient origins are evidenced by the occasional differences in level that lend dynamism to the space. Other features that needed to be maintained include antique thresholds that have been cleaned and repainted, an alcove framed by facing bricks in the bathroom, the trussed ceiling painted partially white to enhance the sense of space, and an internal stone staircase that runs along a facing brick wall (a reference to the masonry of the church nave) with a forged iron balustrade. The rest of the project involved merging the large number of small rooms and a few larger spaces to create an open volume with fluid pathways, soft, discreet lighting with a warm play of shadow and luminosity, ideal for the location exposed to harsh summer sunlight. The resultant large rooms are furnished sparsely with a few old and modern items – most notably a sofa with a striking multi-coloured back – suggesting that new furniture may be added in the future. The luminosity of the apartment is further enhanced by the ceramic tiles chosen for the floors and some of the walls, consisting of large-format Neutra collection panels from Florim Group’s flagship brand Casamood. The Neutra porcelain tile line used in almost all the rooms, including the living room, bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and stairs, was chosen for its cement effect and greige colour that blend in perfectly with the white plastered walls and create a modern atmosphere with a sophisticated taste of times gone by. The ancient soul of the rural home continues to convey a charming and heart-warming sense of nostalgia.