LIGHT RE­LIEF

A one-time fash­ion photographer em­braces life’s sim­ple plea­sures in the airy, el­e­gant dream home she built deep in the Ca­pal­bio hills.

VOGUE Living Australia - - Art & Design - By FIONA Mc­CARTHY Pho­tographed by FELIX FOR­EST

It’s hard to be­lieve only eight years ago there was noth­ing but graz­ing sheep where Amanda Spos­ito’s el­e­gant-lined, mod­ern take on the Tus­can farm­house now stands, deep in the Ca­pal­bio hills, an hour and a half ’s drive north of Rome. “Here there was noth­ing,” says the for­mer fash­ion photographer in her husky, heav­ily Ital­ian-ac­cented English. “No trees ex­cept a small clutch of oak trees. No shrubs or walls. Noth­ing.” The fi­nal touches of paint in the kitchen were made just a few months ago. “We put in ev­ery­thing,” she em­pha­sises again, but al­though it’s all brand new, “it looks like it’s been here for­ever.” Spos­ito first vis­ited Ca­pal­bio “by chance” about 15 years ago, when a small group of friends had sec­ond homes here around the area. “The liv­ing was very sim­ple, and we all had young chil­dren around the same age, so we rented houses close to one an­other near the nat­u­ral wildlife re­serve around Lago di Bu­rano and a short walk to the beach,” she says. “We didn’t need to in­vite guests to stay for com­pany be­cause we had each other, go­ing in be­tween one an­other’s houses for lunches and din­ners. It was heaven.” When the owner of the house she’d been rent­ing said he didn’t want to sell, Spos­ito de­cided to build a place of her own. “A friend with lo­cal ties found a farmer will­ing to sell some land — tra­di­tion­ally this area was used for hunt­ing [mainly boar] and then sheep graz­ing, so no one thought to live here,” she says. It is the re­gion’s sense of un­der­state­ment that ap­peals to Spos­ito most. “It’s not Sain­tTropez; no­body here shows off.” Ca­pal­bio is a wild, windswept jewel, nick­named ‘ Lit­tle Athens’ for its cul­tural and artis­tic her­itage since the Re­nais­sance. Spos­ito’s house, set high above kilo­me­tres of un­spoilt (and now highly pro­tected) coun­try­side, en­joys views stretch­ing all the way to­wards the crys­tal-blue wa­ters of the Tyrrhe­nian coast. “I love go­ing to the beach, I love swim­ming,” she says. “This is the per­fect place to be.” She built the house in two stages: first it was a two-storey struc­ture typ­i­cal of the re­gion — the chal­lenges of plan­ning per­mis­sion where con­ser­va­tion of the lo­cal beauty is key meant the build­ing process was slow. Af­ter fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions with au­thor­i­ties, an ad­di­tional sin­gle-storey, 10-me­tre ex­ten­sion was re­cently added. For Spos­ito — a for­mer pho­tograper who, in the 1980s, shot the cat­walk col­lec­tions in Paris and Mi­lan for Amer­i­can Vogue — it has pro­vided a light, airy space with both a gen­er­ous com­bined liv­ing and din­ing room as well as a high-tech kitchen, all ideal for largescale en­ter­tain­ing. For dra­matic ef­fect, the bold, graphic black lines of the roof ’s sup­port beams in the din­ing and liv­ing area were left flush with the pitched ceil­ing and painted the same colour as the steel doors. The low wall di­vid­ing the big sa­lone, as Spos­ito calls it, acts like a “the­atre cur­tain” — where you can see through to each space, and out to the gar­den on ei­ther side — “but it hides all those things like dirty dishes af­ter din­ner”. Against the oth­er­wise neu­tral back­drop of white walls, pol­ished con­crete or par­quet floors, tade­lakt bath­rooms and stair­wells are tex­tu­ral nat­u­ral fi­bres such as bam­boo or sheer linen cur­tains, with bursts of colour com­ing from an eclec­tic mix of con­tem­po­rary art. Graphic paint­ings by 1950s Ital­ian painters Franco An­geli and Mario Schi­fano team against vivid hand-splat­tered works by Or­lando Miani and two large-scale zinc pieces by Beatrice Carac­ci­olo, placed on ei­ther end of the long liv­ing room. Carac­ci­olo, a cel­e­brated artist and one of Spos­ito’s clos­est friends since the pair were teens, rarely sells her work but she was so taken by the space on a re­cent visit, she gen­er­ously of­fered Spos­ito these two pieces. “And I love that they are quadrato [square],” Spos­ito beams. “It’s more chic!” The flow be­tween rooms gives Spos­ito and the many fam­ily and friends who visit reg­u­larly space to be all to­gether or alone. “Ev­ery room has its own via di fuga — a pri­vate es­cape for peo­ple to come and go from the house, whether it’s to the pool, ter­race or gar­den, with­out hav­ing to pass any­one else,” Spos­ito ex­plains. Wo­ven beach bas­kets and tow­els are left out for guests to use dur­ing their stay; at night, the storm lan­terns Spos­ito likes to amass on the large cen­tral hall­way ta­ble are lit with can­dles — adding fur­ther magic to the al­ready wel­com­ing, re­laxed hol­i­day vibe of the house. The house, pool and gar­den pur­posely dis­ap­pear into the land­scape. The stone used for the in­fin­ity pool is the same colour as the earth; dry­walled gar­den beds over­flow with rose­mary, laven­der and Mac­chia Mediter­ranea, the area’s pro­lific indige­nous scrub. Large mul­berry trees shade the house from the hot sum­mer sun; the first-floor ter­race off the main bed­room hides be­hind a rus­tic canopy and bil­low­ing beds of hy­drangeas and aga­pan­thus. With help from land­scape gar­dener Enzo Margher­iti, through ev­ery win­dow or door you see lush, ver­dant green. “You feel as if you’re out­side even when you’re in the house,” Spos­ito says. “You are fully im­mersed in bella Italia.” For rental en­quiries, email hello@vil­la­tre­querce.com

this page: Amanda Spos­ito sits in the tade­lakt-plas­tered STAIR­WELL that leads from the ground floor to the bed­rooms; be­hind her, Blood­fest 5/7 paint­ing by Or­lando Miani. op­po­site page: in the EN­TRANCE HALL, large ta­ble by Be­cara; cus­tom-made metal bench and doors. De­tails, last pages.

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