Ever since high school, one of the of the big, juicy items on my dreamy list of Life To-Do's has been to 'Tour the Grand Houses of Europe'. Of course this is a multi-stage project, to be accomplished in phases (The Loire Valley! The Rhine!), and so far I've yet to check any of those off the list. Now, the new book At Home in Italy has upped the ante and put that country ahead of all others.
This 250-page volume is devoted entirely to photos of homes in rural Italy. Slowly flipping through it on a Sunday afternoon–preferably with a deep dark shot of espresso or a tipple of grappa in hand–is like taking a leisurely stroll through one of the olive groves pictured so reverently between its covers. It's a lovely mix of light and shade, color and neutral, old and even older.
I'm especially fond of the diversity of spaces in At Home in Italy. You'll find everything from a restored 18th century farmstead that's been painted entirely white to emphasize the geometry of its construction, to a millhouse with foundations dating to the 1200's. Which makes this as much a history lesson as a design journey–and who doesn't love a two-for-one?!
Seeing aged houses in Europe, with their hundreds of layered years and lives and memories, always makes me think about how to incorporate that sense of time and meaning into my own home. Books like this remind me that design, like travel or food, is a process to be savored, reveled in. So when I finally do take those trips through the Loire, the Rhine, the Arno, I'll enjoy them all the more.
Images: Massimo Listri, At Home in Italy.