Inside a Renaissance-Style Apartment in Florence, Transformed for the 21st Century
A bold yet cosy residence that exudes warmth and visual drama at once.
Overlooking the Arno River, architect Luigi Fragola’s home and studio occupies the uppermost level of a 19th-century building in Florence.
And while there’s no shortage of similarly stately, austere structures in the vicinity, it only takes a minute to understand what sets this home apart from the rest.
Luigi, who had lived in Bologna, Milan and then New York, tentatively returned to Italy and found himself smitten with Florence. “I fell in love with the city at night, surrounded by champagne glasses and elegant clothes,” he recalls. “I had been invited to a party and I meant to leave the next day. Instead, I stayed for three days – and never left.”
Following a stint with renowned architect Michele Bönan, Luigi opened his own firm and steadily built a portfolio of luxury residences, hotels, restaurants and boutiques. His residential commissions, often made of wood, feature high standards that are anchored on technology and sustainability. “I’ve always been fond of technical and beautiful things,” explains Luigi, an avid sailor with a passion for motorbikes and bicycles. “In my studio, we function as both architect and interior designer. It has to be in sync.”
Respecting the environment while paying homage to wood is front of mind at Fragola’s studio – and it’s an ethos that came in particularly handy when it was time to design his own home in a historical building. “This is a 19th-century edifice, so its technology was sort of left to those who made it before us, about 200 years ago,” says Luigi. “To me, wiring was very important.” A clever solution to bringing the home into the 21st century without compromising the building’s aesthetic bones was to hide the optical fibre cables and hotspots behind frames that decorate the ceiling.
Stepping into the home, one is welcomed by walls embellished with branches of flowers, hand-painted by Francesca Guicciardini, a decorator and friend of Luigi’s. “I do hate white spaces,” the architect admits.