A pared-back Puglian palazzo lifts art and soul
Minimalism meets a majesty at Palazzo Daniele, a six-bedroom guest house in Puglia. Set in the village of Gagliano del Capo, where the Adriatic’s rocky coastline meets the sandy beaches of the Ionian Sea, the property is the former family palazzo of Francesco Petrucci, co-founder of Capo d’Arte, a not-for-profit organisation promoting contemporary art in Puglia.
Reshaped by the Milanese duo Ludovica and Roberto Palomba of Palomba Serafini Associati, the 19th-century pile has been turned into guest rooms, an art space and artists’ studios, and hosts an annual residency programme in partnership with Villa Medici, the French Academy in Rome. Inspired by the idea of ‘absence’, the architects have stripped back as much as possible, while restoring historical features such as ornate frescoes and mosaic flooring, to create a dramatic canvas for the palazzo’s ever-expanding contemporary art collection.
The building’s layout has been turned around: the grand front living areas now serve as spaces to exhibit artworks, sparsely furnished with pieces such as a giant floor lamp by Mariano Fortuny and a Driade sofa. At the back of the building, the guest rooms and common spaces look out onto a series of courtyards, with an orangery and an inky-black swimming pool. The contrast between the traditional and the contemporary, art and function, extends to the guest rooms, where the monastic décor is boosted by vaulted, frescoed ceilings, their exposed cracks conveying over 150 years of history. Minimal furnishings include a central bed and a black steel-framed open wardrobe, custom-made by the Palombas.
In the palazzo’s grand kitchen, pasta-making courses are on offer, but it’s best to let Cinzia, the local village cook, whip up her range of regional specialities prepared using ingredients from the surrounding farms. Think fava bean purée with chicory, or aubergine parmigiana, washed down with a crisp glass of rosé from the nearby Castello Monaci winery.
Outside of the residency programme, reservations are at the discretion of Petrucci, but should you get the nod, it will become apparent that, while no longer a family home, Palazzo Daniele is a welcoming hub for the artistic community and a haven for the discerning design-minded. This is further highlighted by the marble plaque at the entrance, which reveals a message from the past for future generations to abide by: ‘This is a place to be shared.’ §
As originally featured in the October issue of Wallpaper* (W*235)