Fiammetta Bonazzi is a journalist and interiors and colour consultant. Born in Arona, Lago Maggiore (Italy), after classical studies she graduated in Law in Milan and began writing about architecture and lifestyle for Class and Case & Country. She was a reporter for Gulliver and Bell’Italia and writes for Vogue Italia, Casa Vogue, Amica, Grazia Casa and Marie Claire Maison.
I couldn't of been happier that Fiametta wanted to be featured on Tat, then when I saw the photographs I was blown away (not only by her glamour), It was just the escape I needed. So a huge thank you to Fiammetta for letting us snoop around her house and to Judith Balari for taking these exquisite photographs.
I’ve been looking at this ancient and uninhabited house for a long time, with its large covered balcony and granite columns. We have known Carpiano di Ghiffa since 2009, a quiet village on the Piedmontese coast of the Lake Maggiore, not so far from Milan and the Swiss border, and this property has always exercised a unique appeal on me. Carpiano spreads over the hillside in the middle of orchards, gardens and patrician villas dating back to the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. During the nineteenth century, the woods between Ghiffa and Antoliva were frequented by the Scapigliatura artists, including Daniele Ranzoni, who left numerous paintings made here en plein air, now preserved in the Museo del Paesaggio in Pallanza.
One afternoon in late summer - it was 2013 - I discover that the house was up for sale. Within a month, I acquired this gem with the idea of making it a special buen retiro (retreat) for my family and friends.
I am a journalist, but I am also involved in interior renovation, and I’m not afraid of challenges. The property, which dates back to the first half of the eighteenth century, was abandoned for over twenty years and painted in a filthy and anachronistic white colour. So, first, I tried to dig under the layers, and I discovered that over time the walls had been dressed in dove grey, brown and in deep pink, reminiscent of the shades of a light red wine that was produced in this area for years. These colours were the guide to start the whole restoration: the rest was like playing in a theatrical piece, suspended between reality and fantasy. I’ve found the right paints for the interiors in the Farrow & Ball palette (Elephant Breath for the kitchen, Cinder rose for the living room, Pavilion Gray for the bathroom). For the exteriors, I’ve tested a bespoke water colour which has acquired a dusty patina on the lime-treated walls.
With my partner Federico we baptized the house “La bricolla” from the name of the basket of smugglers who, until the last century, crossed the mountains above the lake to encroach on Switzerland and that we found in the cave. This is just one of the many original objects of this house, where nothing - with the exception of the systems - is new: the roof is in “piode” (a local stone), the floors are in old stone and grit and an ash-stained salvaged larch wood, in the kitchen a Genoese marble sink pairs with a 1960s Gasfire cooker. We resurrected the spaces by trawling charity shops, bric à brac markets, and the garbage can near the public parking., This is where I’ve recovered Richard Ginori dish sets, Bonacina rattan garden chairs and Garibaldi’s painting that now looks towards the balcony of the living room, from where you can enjoy the view of the Lombardy lakeside.
The final touch was the visible electrical system equipped with ceramic switches: like everything at La bricolla, they require a smooth touch. And in the evening, when the sun dips into the lake above the Borromean Islands in front of Stresa, the half-light invites to slow down movements and thoughts. Stay here is like living in a bubble out of the world, which runs out there. But where is it going?