The King’s Retreat
GIORGIO ARMANI HAS MANY HOMES, BUT THE ONE AT BRONI IS THE MOST INTIMATE, BECAUSE IT HOUSES CLOSE AND DISTANT MEMORIES.
«My mother always enjoyed spending time in this house. She liked its gentle colors, the light. When I was ill, spending lots of time here helped me to restore my strength. I felt like a guest in my own home: in Broni I discovered the pleasure of spending time with family, with my animals. There is real peace here. Everything has a slower, more confdential pace». Of all the retreats Giorgio Armani owns around the world – from Engadin to Saint-Tropez, Pantelleria, New York, Forte dei Marmi, Antigua – this country house in the Oltrepò Pavese region is his shelter, the place he spends the most time, aside from the apartment in Milan. A place for friends, private occasions, birthdays, but also the wedding of his niece Roberta. An area of 2,360 square meters, plus 400 for the annexes, 15 hectares for the park, purchased in two phases. The layout is traditional, with a large marble staircase, windows, the china room, a freplace, service spaces in the basement, steps leading down to the garden. There are goats, horses, cows, fallow deers, guinea fowls, donkeys and parrots, even alpacas; a neoclassical temple draped in wisteria, a pond with weeping willows. A stable transformed into an ofce. «It’s easier to work when the only background noise is bird songs. This house has a hypnotic efect, like being in the past».
How did you fnd it?
«By chance, at the beginning of the 1980s. I didn’t always feel like going to Pantelleria or Forte dei Marmi, though I love the sea. I was looking for a simple country house, for weekends. I would drive around with friends, and we came across this little Versailles. I found out it was abandoned, that the owners wanted to sell. One week later it was mine».
Was it in good condition?
«Outside there were mostly ruins. Neoclassical statues crumbling in an overgrown garden. We saved the ones that were in better shape, and now they welcome guests in the house. The bathrooms were gorgeous, with diferent types and colors of marble. I tried to preserve the unusual style of a house built in the 1950s, but based on a nearby 18th- century villa».
Did you do the renovation yourself?
«I always work on my houses: I enjoy it, which is why I also work on interior design professionally. However, in the initial renovation I felt the need for a feminine touch, so I asked the architect Gabriella Giuntoli to help me with the colors. Since living here, I have added other things, inserting freplaces, cofee tables, comfortable sofas, wood paneling. I just remodeled the interiors, changing fabrics, shutters, glazings and foors. Adding an urban, practical touch. But the style, the colors and surfaces, have remained intact».
This is not what one usually thinks of as the « Armani style». It’s more opulent, less minimal.
«I wanted to keep a bit of solemnity, this sort of 18th- century grandeur, but with the more intimate spaces refecting the simplicity of a Lombard house. Several pieces of furniture are Armani/Casa».
How do you spend your time here? What does this house say about you?
«I’m always outside in the warm seasons, in the orchard, with the animals, relaxing by the pool. Broni is a stage. I enter an aura of tranquility, departing from my routine. I see myself everywhere. I grew up in Piacenza, during the war years. I didn’t have lots of toys, but I had lots of imagination. I remember the days in the countryside, swimming in the river. I chose this place to fnd the spirit of childhood. It helps me return to the city with new energy, every time».