Our clients, who worked in finance and had lived in Tokyo and London, discovered the Gulf of La Spezia—made famous by the English Romantic poets as the Gulf of Poets—during vacation. They came upon an old house, clinging to the terraces of a hillside olive grove.
The structure had the patina of history to it—meaning it was both charming and not in any condition to live in. We wanted to respect its history and authentic local source material (the world-renown Carrara marble quarries are nearby) while modernizing and expanding it into something that could host a modern family with partners whose careers are global in nature. Seeking to take advantage of the stunning views of not only the Mediterranean but the province of La Spezia across the bay, our clients expressed a desire for a home that embraced an openness that would make the spectacular setting a crucial element in their daily lives (while also introducing an exterior kitchen and swimming pool).
We not only had to achieve an elegant architectural solution but had to do the more mundane structural reinforcement necessary to save a historic structure and meet modern building codes (including earthquake resistance). Solutions included raising the existing building and creating space for bedrooms on the new first floor and extending a substantial pergola to encompass a shared exterior area. Local stone and plaster traditions were used to match the setting and historic elements, while a sleek infinity pool weaves the illusion that this artificial body of water is an extension of the Gulf of Poets that expands below. Whitened wooden beams, customized arched windows that filled existing porticoes, and a garden intrinsically interwoven into the whole create visual echoes of the property’s historic agricultural roots in a home smooth in its modernity.