A private residence in Reitano
The village of Reitano is located at a height of 396 m above sea-level in a hilly coastal area of the province of Messina, a region where agriculture is still an important activity. Until the end of the nineteenth century the village was owned by the Duchy of Colonna, a Roman family whose artistic legacy remains in the summer residence built in the contrada, or district, named after them. Contrada Colonna is also the location of a private residence that recently underwent an interesting renovation project. The country home, owned by an entrepreneur from the neighbouring town of Santo Stefano di Camastra, was built in 1907, as evidenced by the date engraved by the stonemason on the entrance keystone. The rectangular-plan building consists of a ground-floor basement and first floor levels, each extending over about 250 square metres. The original floor separating the two levels was constructed in the traditional manner by placing a layer of canes tied together with string and embedded in a gypsum and tuff-based conglomerate on a wooden joist frame. During the work, the part of the old floor surface located directly above the basement area intended for renovation (previously used as a cellar and tool storage area) was replaced by a reinforced concrete slab that performs a load-bearing function for the upper level. The basement ceiling was finished aesthetically by reconstructing a series of laminar wood beams and interposing a layer of antiqued terracotta ceiling tiles from Domus Linea’s «I Nobili Casati» series between them and the concrete slab. The ground-floor basement now consists of a main taverna, or dining and leisure room area, with a stone arch, plus a utility room. The latter was annexed by partially demolishing the separating stone wall, leaving just two reveals on the left and right and a connecting beam on the ceiling. The walls of the taverna are all made from Mistretta stone and are the original load-bearing walls of the house. The same antiqued terracotta tiles used for the ceiling were also used on the floor, albeit in different sizes. But prior to installation, the ground had to be levelled by lowering it by about 10 cm. A container used in the past to collect must from crushed grapes has been left in the space below (it can be seen through the clear glass trapdoor) and is now used as a water cistern. A submersible pump distributes the water for sanitary purposes. As the aim of the renovation project was to create a traditional taverna, a rustic space where the family could meet and dine with relatives and friends, a kitchen and fireplace were essential features. The only industrial component of the fireplace is the hearth. The fireplace facings (stone in the lower section and terracotta bricks laid in a dovetail fashion above) were applied on site. The built-in kitchen structure was completed with wooden doors, and the walls and work surfaces were clad with traditional ceramic tiles from Santo Stefano di Camastra.