The Italian countryside and the surrounding of the historic centers are adorned with thousands of villas and residences that are a major attraction for those who want to fully experience the Italian way of life, up to immerse themselves in the Dolce Vita.
In addition, typical rural architecture buildings have become recently the reference residence for the return to nature. The following are some examples of country residences.
The modern meaning of “villa” has its origins in the 15th century. Generally this word indicates large and elegant dwelling houses surrounded by more or less wide gardens and parks.
The prototype of villa is more ancient, it dates back to the Roman period when it used to be both an agricultural centre and a place for recreation. During Middle Ages the rural character of these houses started to loose ground to fortresses, which had become necessary for defensive purpose.
It was only in the 15th century when castles themselves started to loose the characteristics of a simple and pure place for defence, becoming for example more airy shooting lodges.
The most important characteristic of the architecture of villas is the reuse of pre-existent buildings. The problem of transforming the rooms has often been resolved by a complete disguise which does not mean complete destruction (very rare for both economical and historical reasons).
Small 16th century “villas of delight” were natural heirs of shooting lodges which combined the recovery of the historical parts with new space, with large rooms and several loggia.
The 17th century villa indeed developed architectonical characteristics that had existed already before but this time with a trend for the monumental. Villas became grand and their rich decorations usually presented enterprises and virtues of a family. To lighten the ostentation of villas, charming Italian-styled gardens were created and the fashion went on for the whole 18th century. Unfortunately the style was substituted (causing heavy losses) by the predilection for the English-styled romantic gardens. The difference between the two gardens was not only stylistic: the rational Italian-styled garden, symbol of the dominion of man on nature was overtaken by park, representing “wild” nature and a kind of return to natural state, theorized by Rousseau.
casa romita – This villa, built in 1885, is a magnificent example of late nineteenth-century architectural and building skills. The imposing structures built in stone and brick facades do not bear the slightest harmony. The presence of the two towers, St. Gregory and St. Andrew, the last of which equipped with fine bronze bell, enhances the architectural charm of the villa giving it the appearance of a much older building.
Palazzo Vecchiarelli – The villa is set in a panoramic position on the hills close to the city of Rieti, and enjoys sweeping views of the mountain complex of Terminillo, and on the medieval settlements perched on its slopes.
The villa is in a square shape with corners marked by towers, shaped in part curve and the straight, who want to give an appearance of a fortress, following a cultural and romantic trend of the nineteenth century.
The garden, crossed by a path in line with the fountain and the central ramp of stairs, ends in a small panoramic terrace that overlooks the surrounding landscape. The outer walls are in stone with irregular appeals brick, stringcourses and window frames made of bricks. Originally the villa could be plastered, as you can still see in the niche left of the entrance facade.
Villa Fiorenza – Recently renovated villa consisting of a main building and another smaller one set on the East side. The main building is on three floors: on the ground floor we have a big entrance with a guest bathroom, a spacious living room, a large kitchen and a dining area with fireplace. On the first floor a living area with a balcony facing the garden, the master bedroom and the bathroom with bathtub, shower and a dressing room. On the second floor we have the attic. On the East side a cozy, fully-equipped apartment currently connected with the main house but with the possibility of becoming independent. Composed of a living room with fire place; the stairs in the living room take to the kitchen and the winery; then we have the bedroom with French windows, from here an iron staircase leads to the bathroom.
The whole place has been decorated with style; paintings, carpets, old style closets, crystal lights all together give to the house a welcoming sense.
…”Rural house is a work tool; the most important and heart-felt work tool that the soul of a farmer creates and it has the characteristics of a work tool: nothing is useless, nothing is superfluous, everything it has was born for necessity. Logical use of materials, the position of the buildings, adaptation to the climatic conditions, the candid building style of the region, the will to overcome the calm and rough simplicity with which the essential need for a seat or a roof has been solved in a primitive but still sufficient way, transform the rural architecture into a book of honourable building, full of wisdom”…
With a rectangular plan, two floors and saddle or hip roof, farmhouse is a proof of a rare balance between nature and human settlement; a place where man has often and easily found shelter and in which one has lived the most important experiences of life, often hard but full of love for the land.
Tenuta Pasanisi – Big estate with 3 stone houses, one of which is tastefully renovated. Outdoor spaces are treated with great attention to detail and embellished with a free-form pool.
Antico casale – Old stone farmhouse placed in the green hills of Sabina. Lovely scenery and absolute quiet.
Casale a Vaiano – an old stone house, intact in its original forms, typical of farmhouse in high Sabina.
Further examples of building artifacts that could become comfortable country residences.
The trulli of Puglia, famous for their beauty and uniqueness all over the world, represent one of the most extraordinary examples of the Italian architecture.
Although spread in the whole region of Puglia, the trulli reach their maximum concentration and artistic expression in Valle d’Itria.
This area, characterized by soft undulation of the ground covered by vineyards and green woods, spotted by white houses with brown cone roofs, gives the sensation of being in a timeless and almost magical place even to a most absent-minded tourist.
The same thing happens while walking in the narrow streets of the villages of Murgia dei trulli: Alberobello (the trullis of which have been inscribed in UNESCO’s world heritage list), Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca.
Example of Trullo.
A day spent around the beautiful Apulian countryside, to discover the places where all the great and sometimes unknown men who made our history lived, represents a real journey back in time to the past. This stunning excursion will wake up again in the tourist his or her own now numb feelings for nature and all of the daily life’s simple things. Along the monotonous roads all of us have to travel everyday, we can recognize the valuable testimonies of a glorious past still alive inside the hearts of our people: “masserie”(countryside houses). Once, these houses were places where to organize and to distribute the agricultural work. Masserie symbolized the core of the whole economical and social life in southern Italy.
Example of Masseria.