What can you say about a two-week trip to Italy, besides, “It was amazing,” and, “Go the first chance you get?” It WAS amazing, and you SHOULD go the first chance you get!
Our dear friends rented a house in Umbria and said, “Just come.” So we did.
Part of the house dates to the 1600s, evidently, but we were hard pressed to figure out exactly which part. Maybe the guest house, which originally may have been a stable? Or maybe a few stones from the main house? Who cares. The house FELT old. And man, did it feel solid. It was a friendly fortress, with brick floors that were cool underfoot and thick stone walls.
A family in Naples owns the house, and both father and son are architects. Makes sense.
The house is graciously proportioned, with spacious rooms on the first floor and three bedroom suites on the second. (We had a sitting room and two bedrooms, actually, because our daughters were with us for the first week.) There also was the aforementioned one-bedroom guest house.
AND there was the veranda. (I’d normally call it a porch, but I actually think that “veranda,” a word I rarely have occasion to say, is the better descriptor.) That’s where we spent most of our time; our brilliant friends chose exactly the right time of year for this trip. There were no bugs. The weather ranged from pleasantly cool to pleasantly warm. And we were almost (almost) in the pre-tourist season.
If I may speak in broad generalizations for a moment: one of the biggest differences between European and American houses is the kitchen. Ours are just so…intentional. When we remodel in the United States, we consider the layout, we line the walls with white cabinets, we install clean, expansive countertops…everything matches, every element is carefully considered.
By contrast, the European kitchens I’ve seen, including in Umbria, can be a bit of a mishmash — but totally charming. In this house, one wall held a (not built-in) microwave, the dishwasher, and a sink, and the stove was next to that. No wall cabinets, and the fridge was in the adjacent laundry area.
All of the dishes lived in an armoire, and I suppose that’s where dry goods would be if we had put it away. (We tended to pile the groceries on the table in the middle of the room…I do love a dining table in a kitchen, but it can get untidy quickly!) The lighting wasn’t great, the dishwasher was finicky, and storage was limited. BUT it worked for us, and it was cozy and sweet.
We stayed in this house in Umbria for most of the trip. When we ventured into other towns and cities, though, I tried to visit as many…dwellings as I could. (Talk about a dumb word, but when you’re comparing a two-thousand year old cave-like space to a palace, I can’t think of a better one. Residence? Abode?)
Until next time, arrivederci!
Bossy color | Annie Elliott interiors is a design firm based in Washington, DC. Annie’s design work and decorating insights have appeared in such publications as Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and Washingtonian.