HEIGHT OF FASHION
It looks like a Tuscan villa retreat, but the spectacular hilltop family home of Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari and his wife, Elisabetta, is a former greenhouse overlooking the centre of Rome.
Elisabetta Beccari and her husband, Pietro, the chief executive officer of Fendi, live in a sumptuous hilltop home in central Rome with their daughters, Costanza, 21, Carolina, 18, and Allegra, 13. Together for 30 years, the couple, both born and raised in Parma in northern Italy, have lived and worked all around the world, including New York, Brussels, Düsseldorf and, most recently, Paris, before moving to Rome four years ago. Here, Elisabetta talks about the light-filled residence they call home and life in the Eternal City. Rome is a whole new experience for us.
When we first arrived, the weather was majestic; I couldn’t believe the warmth of Rome. There were blue skies everywhere. We wanted to see this house, but it was a Saturday and the real estate agent said it was impossible because the caretakers didn’t work at weekends, so we would have to come back another time. We still came to see it anyway — and then we found that the first gate was open, and then the second gate was also open, so we came in to take pictures. We fell in love immediately with both the house’s sense of light and the view.
The light here really lifts your mood. We had seen some beautiful houses — old Roman apartments with amazing frescoes — but this one was different. We wanted a house to live in as a family; it wasn’t just for show or hosting drinks receptions for work. We realised this house could be a place for us to be together, where our friends and their kids could come, too. Everything needed to be redone.
You wouldn’t believe the state this house was in. There was no garden, just concrete. All the windows were broken, the paint was peeling and the walls were water-damaged. The ceilings were ruched or swagged with fabric. Everywhere was so dark — nobody had lived here for many years. With our architect, Marco Costanzi [who also designed Fendi’s new headquarters in Rome’s Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana; see page 60], we opened it all up. Once the walls were down, we decided to divide the house into the kitchen, television, living and dining rooms on the top floor, and the bedrooms and bathrooms on the bottom floor. The idea was to fill every room with light. We came to Rome with only two grey sofas and some artworks that we had bought living abroad.
When we moved here, we decided to go back to our roots. We started buying Italian art and furniture, including vintage Gio Ponti chairs and Bonalumi sculptures to mix in with the small collection of pieces we’d found in Paris [like the brushed brass and bulbous milky glass floor light by Lindsey Adelman and vivid painting by Kristin Baker]. Every piece has a very sculptural feel, with clean lines. It has helped to make the house feel much bigger. Roman life is very different.
Living abroad, I always had the feeling of being a foreigner, a guest, so I was used to doing what I had to do, being polite and following the rules. Coming back to Rome, even though I am Italian, it was hard at first because I felt like a stranger. After a while, I began to appreciate the style of the people much more — and the city’s imperfections [where not everything works as perhaps it should]. The people love to stay together, to enjoy life — it’s about entertaining at home or sitting at a bar and talking with friends. It’s discreet and understated but very, very beautiful. ››