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