Private house - Verona

A balanced blend of history, art and design

The semi-circular arched windows cut out of the ancient Porta Leoni conceal an open-plan apartment that's a treasure chest of past, present, art, design and craftsmanship
Grazia Gamberoni
Roberto Leoni
Enrico Savoia
Emmedi srl
Year of completion

As well as its Arena — which is Italy’s third largest Roman amphitheatre and one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks — Verona boasts a wealth of precious architectural gems, which are hidden to varying degrees within the urban fabric, and have survived the ravages of time and human development with varying degrees of success.
One example is Porta Leoni, a gateway to the city, dating back to the Roman era, which has remained intact to this day. Situated at the end of Via Cappello, the same street in which the much visited Casa di Giulietta is located, it owes its current name to a Roman tomb discovered nearby in the 15th Century, which is adorned with two lions lying next to each other. The original Roman name of the gate is not known, but in the Middle Ages it was known as Porta San Fermo, because of its proximity to the church of the same name. It later became known as the Arco di Valerio, after Publio Valerio, at whose behest it was built.
The part of the gateway that’s still visible today was built in the 1st Century AD, using white Valpantena stone to cover the earlier Republican gateway (1st Century BC), which was thought too austere for the improved economic circumstances of the city. The part of Porta Leoni that can still be seen — one half, divided vertically, of the side facing in towards the city — consists of a single archway framed by an aedicula with semi-circular Doric columns with Corinthian capitals, topped by arched, multi-paned windows, above which you can see the remains of an exedra flanked by Solomonic columns. The gateway is built into the walls of a 13th Century building. Standing on the foundation stones of this structure, which has played a role in the everyday life of the city for over a thousand years, is an apartment recently remodelled by the architect Enrico Savoia. Featuring three semi-circular arched windows cut out of the historic wall, which bring light into the main area of the home, the apartment is based on a large open-space design, encompassing lounge, living area and kitchen, and an attractive fusion of past and present, art and design, craftsmanship and vintage.
The remodelling project reflects the passion and personality of the apartment’s owners, in its choice of unusual objects and one-off pieces. It also shows an instinctive feel for light, which comes in natural form from the three windows built into Porta Leoni and the large glazed area of the building itself, and in artificial form from an array of contemporary lamps.
The result is a treasure chest of items that bear witness to the owners’ own experiences. But it’s also steeped in history in its own right and maintains a respectful harmony with its architectural setting. As part of this painstaking remodelling project, the technical and practical aspects of the apartment were upgraded, and the interior layout was rearranged, to create a brighter habitat. Against this backdrop, large-format concrete-effect porcelain floor tiles from the Action collection by Fondovalle, measuring 120×120 cm in the colour Light, play a unifying role between the various environments. The flooring also strikes a harmonious contrast with the bleached-beam structure and the brick walls of the extensive living-area, which is illuminated by the historic windows of Porta Leoni, and makes the perfect showcase for a dramatically eclectic collection of vintage and contemporary interior design pieces. These cohabit with some of the owners’ personal favourite objects and with a selection of paintings and furnishing complements of high aesthetic impact.

Fondovalle, Action collection
porcelain stoneware
120x240 cm, 120x120 cm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): 0,1%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): UA; ULA; UHA
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): 145 mm
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): compliant
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): compliant
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): 50 N/mm
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): B
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): compliant
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): compliant
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): compliant
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