Best of est | Italian Country Houses

  • We escape to the Italian countryside and into five idyllic homes.

    Italy’s countryside rivals the best in the world; rolling green hills, vineyards, olive groves and historic architecture make for scenes straight out of a painting. We’ve featured a number of Italian country houses here on and inside the pages of est magazine; it was a challenge to pick just five. 

    Borgo Gallana

    Studio Andrew Trotter

    Studio Andrew Trotter have designed a trio of boutique hotels just outside the town of Oria in Puglia’s countryside.  

    “My Puglia buildings work so well because they’re not a copy of the old but a re-addition of what is,” Andrew says. “They’re quietly simple, and I think people will always like simplicity.” 

    Calling on local materials and traditional building methods, Studio Andrew Trotter have conveyed ‘the simple life’ of Puglia through an old farmhouse feel. Each building embraces a classic white sandstone exterior, cement floors, vaulted ceilings, dusty neutrals and minimal furnishings. Warm light from the surrounding countryside permeates the interiors through large arched windows and doors – a feature carried through centuries of Italian architecture.

    Andrew has a way of describing buildings like they’re living beings. “All buildings have a reason, you see. Mine, they’re part of tradition.” Borgo Gallana stands as an unprecedented opportunity to experience Puglia through the lens of those who know it best – keeping the traditions and histories of the region alive.

    HV Pavilion

    Gardini Gibertini Architects

    Considered design elements are the hallmarks of this pavilion in the Italian foothills of Amiata Mount, making it a haven for modern living in an otherwise old-worldly and idyllic location.

    The homeowners of the Brutalist-inspired bolthole called on esteemed local architects Gardini Gibertini Architects (GGA) to design an architectural masterpiece for them and their extended family.

    Architects Alice Gardini and Nicola Gibertini of GGA have expertly honed their architectural calling cards when it comes to the built form – one of which is their unique ability to intuitively create a captivating dialogue between the past and the present. Taking pride in applying locally sourced materials such as ancient stone, to construct new, contemporary forms of living, the GGA team champion architectural reinvention while paying tribute to the local land.

    Villa RA


    Nestled above an elevated ridge in one of the southernmost parts of Italy, this outwardly expressed home designed by MORQ beautifully captures the essence of Calabria. 

    Imagined as a summer retreat for its owners of Italian lineage, the home sits weighted through its composition yet responsive in how it engages with the landscape. “The new dwelling aims to be part of the landscape as a whole,” MORQ co-director Emiliano Roia says, “and instead of looking to formally mimic the landscape, the project draws from the tradition of the Italian villa, and the material tones of the land it sits on.”

    Villa RA’s material palette is informed by the earth it perches on. “The limited palette of materials reveals the simple geometry of the building,” Emiliano says, “and creates a visual and tactile continuity between landscape and architecture, where hues change during the day, responding to sun and land, revealing movement through shadows and ever-changing material nuances.”

    Villa RA originally appeared in est magazine issue 42 (pp. 52-67).

    Architects Ludovica and Roberto Palomba’s Puglia Home

    Palomba Serafini

    This gloriously rustic Puglia building is the home of Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, founders of Milan-based architecture firm Palomba Serafini Associati.

    Originally constructed in the 1600s as an oil mill, the building had long since been abandoned and fallen into disrepair by the time the Palombas came across it. But it was the building’s classic proportions – six metre ceilings and wide communal spaces framed by columns – that caught the couple’s eye. 

    Rather than taking the typical renovation tactics of modernising and adding, Roberto and Ludovica chose to keep the structure as authentic as possible. Instead of adding new walls to break up the space, the remodel draws on floors of local stone and whitewashed walls to create consistency throughout the home without boxing it off, while light has been introduced through opening up the back of the building and peppering new skylights throughout the living areas.

    Ludovica and Roberto Palomba’s home originally appeared in est magazine issue 27 (pp. 40-52).

    Villa Cardo

    Studio Andrew Trotter

    Studio Andrew Trotter’s Villa Cardo absorbs the rich landscape of Puglia as a love letter to the region and its past. 

    The three-bedroom home occupies a site filled with olive and almond trees. While anchored to the landscape through thick and weighted architectural elements, the geometric open staircase leads to an open roof terrace, with views stretching out to the ocean. “The house sits in the countryside,” Andrew says, “so it was important for it to feel relaxed and humble and that the whole house can be opened up, so you feel connected with the nature that surrounds.”

    “We always try to source everything as close to the site as possible,” Andrew says. “The Tufo (sandstone) walls are from two kilometres away, the windows are made locally and  the limestone flooring is local too. A building needs to fit the context that it is in and if you use local materials, then half of the work is done for you.”

    Villa Cardo originally appeared in est magazine issue 43 (pp. 220 – 237).

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