luxe vacation rental || MAZZINI 31
When Patrizio Fradiani, italian born Architect and Designer, based in Chicago started out in his career he had no idea that it would lead him to being the owner of a growing empire of luxury vacation rental properties. During visits to Italy to reunite with family the concept was born out of a need “renting other peoples homes – we were never able to find something we truly liked”. This sparked an idea that began the process of buying, building, restoring and designing vacation rentals that “give like minded people the special experience” that we want – elements like a pool so you never feel a need to leave.
The most recently completed project ‘Mazzini 31’ in Fradiani’s portfolio, is perched on a hill-top above a soft undulating landscape located in the Medieval Umbrian town of Monteleone d’Oriveto. The home was purchased in 2012 “this quaint little town has a special place in my heart as it was the home of my maternal ancestors, the Bilancini Family”. In town the main Piazza along with the Elementary School bears the name ‘Pietro Bilancini’, the Designers great-great grandfather, “he was a poet and a literary critic in the late 1800’s, three books of his plus numerous essays survive and can still be found in print”. Fradiani remembers as a child visiting in the summer months to spend time with his grandparents in “the only remaining apartment of our family Palazzo right in the main square”. The apartment sold in the early 80’s after the death of his grandfather, it took a series of coincidences to bring Fradiani back to Monteleone, when he returned to the town to view the apartment, he returned with his nieces – who had never visited “it felt as though something in my life was coming full circle”. Like his ancestors, Fradiani return continues to leave an impression through his architectural and interior design that has the whole town talking once again about this family.
Originally designed as a ‘Palazzo’ – single residence for a wealthy Noble family in the 1800’s, over the centuries the home was subdivided as family life and the prosperity of village changed. Fradiani’s vision “…. adding sources of light that were nonexistent, find ways to expand natural light.” Today the apartment, as you enter the grand stair that was once central to the house, leads you to the main living and sleeping areas located on first floor above ground of a four story stone building. The light filled space that has three oversized bedrooms and bathrooms, a playful yet formal living room, a Library, a sun soaked kitchen and dining area that leads onto a terrace – perfect for alfresco dining and lounging. Modern structural elements such as the neon yellow glass divider turning the original dining room into a hallway and master bath were added to bring the floor plan into the 21st century.
What makes this project far from ordinary is the abundance of Frescos adoring the ceilings and walls in just about every room, along with unique designs in the original terrazzo flooring. Each with their own color palette and design – all carefully restored and cleverly combined with modern elements that seem effortless and harmonious. The apartment had sat empty since the 80’s with all it’s contents undisturbed, windows had been painted shut and the space had become “dark and dingy’. It had seen many renovations and was in a bad state of disrepair. The frescos at first were not visible. It was through the restoration project, peeling back layers of wallpaper, paint and plaster these hidden gems slowly revealed themselves to human sight once again after many centuries bring. Three artisans worked tirelessly on the restoration of the ceiling and wall frescoes. One of artists was a descendant of the original painter, and he was able to share some insight: some of the Frescoes are actually incomplete and are samples for forms that were then placed upon the walls of the floors above; and there is even a cartoon sketch by the original artist that is a joke of sorts about her husband.
The interiors offer thoughtful restraint between functional design and preservation of the buildings age and character. An antique chair covered in a bold fabric, a religious relic, simple crisp white unfussy linens, are typical of the things that adorn each room allowing the character from the frescoes or flooring to not be overpowered.
There is a separate, but easily accessible private ‘spa’ area that can be accessed from the apartments entrance area. Enter through a door tucked underneath the stairwell and move into what was once stables and a storage area for local wine and olive oil. Today it has been transformed to offer guests a relaxing retreat to lounge in, with access to the towns only pool and hot-tub dug into a cellar floor. The large glass doors overlooking the pool flood the caves with light and spill onto a sun filled patio. Bask in the sun on a bean bag or lounge chair and listen to the symphony of birds and farm animals drifting up from the valley below. In addition, there is what is becoming a Fradiani trademark, a wine cantina stocked with over 300 bottles of fine Italian wine in a naturally cooled cave. The rooms exclamation mark is a stunning three foot wide antique white iridescent Murano glass chandelier from the 30’s set against the unusually textured geological layers of volcanic and sedimentary rock. Collect a bottle of wine and head back to the main house at the end of day to sit down on the terrace before dinner. Then watch the incredible sunsets with sweeping views into the valley of olive orchards and market gardens set against Monte Cetona in the distance, reminiscing about the days activities, contemplating what adventures tomorrow will bring.
This property, like Fradiani’s other homes [1+2+3], offer guests a luxuriously comfortable vacation with a casual yet sophisticated ease to them, a perfect place for resting after a day or afternoon exploring nearby towns and vineyards. Yet, don’t think for a minute the journey to being able to provide guests with such calmness comes as easily as you feel. It requires a great deal of coordination and trust with local craftsman to execute Fradiani’s vision. He has to “respect their work and contributions immensely while they trust my vision and try to implement it in the most sensible way”. All being juggled and judged with Italian bureaucracy and the strain on finances as mishaps and the unknown unfold. “The last few weeks of a project where everything has to come all together is very intense”. Despite all the obstacles they are not a deterrent “these kind of projects and challenges literally electrify me”. This is Fradiani’s fourth restoration and his third Italian project – it is most certainly not the last, but it just might be a little while until the next. In the meantime, you will still find him scurrying back and forth across the pond usually with suitcases filled to the brim with artifacts and artwork that he has collected, either for his Italian projects or US based Clients.