The King’s Retreat


AD (Italy) - - English Texts - words CO­STAN­ZA RIZ­ZA­CA­SA D’OR­SO­GNA pho­tos — MAX ROMMEL

«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».

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