Alexander Waterworth Interiors has lovingly restored what was once a fortified farmhouse in Puglia, Italy. Now, it's a dream villa available to be shared and enjoyed.
words by Sherri Balefsky Hanson
photography by Emily Andrews; courtesy of Masseria Petrarola
Puglia - the region located along the eastern coastline of Italy that forms the "heel" of the country's “boot" - lies nearly 75 acres of olive groves and lavender fields. They are home to the magical Masseria Petrarolo, a 17th-century estate initially designed for a private client that has since been opened to discerning travelers seeking an immersive experience within a peaceful seaside setting.
London-based interior design studio Alexander Waterworth (co-founded by Alexander Evangelou and James Waterworth) worked alongside local architects Simone & Musa to lovingly restore and modernize what was once the estate's farmhouse; it was originally built as a stronghold against Saracen invaders from North Africa back in the year 1689. Today, the nine-bedroom villa, whose rustic decor combines locally-sourced antiques and bespoke modern upholstery, is a place of pure enchantment at the intersection of past and present.
The chapel on the property is seemingly untouched by time.
Elegantly rising through nature’s sculptural landscape, the villa has been transformed throughout, yet it still maintains its authentic heritage and many of its original features. "As you pass through the home, a rustic purity refreshes your mind with exposed brick walls, floors and gracefully large, vaulted ceilings," says Alexander Evangelou, founder and creative director of Alexander Watersworth. "The living spaces add to the soothing refinement that warmly welcomes you to wind away your day with mindful rejuvenation."
A critical goal of the complex restoration project was to retain as much of the existing layout as possible in order to ensure a natural evolution of the property. "Although time-consuming, exposing and regenerating finishes that have been there since the property was formed was extremely satisfying and enjoyable," recalls Evangelou. The designers also referenced local materials when selecting the finishes. "I wanted to create internal spaces that worked in situ with these elements, creating a fluid partnership," he elaborates.
Simplicity and restraint mark the furnishings and accessories; a simple olive branch in a vase nods to the home's natural surroundings.
A smooth plastered wall that rises above the hearth of a working fireplace, both contrasting and complementing the more rugged original brickwork.
Muted pastel upholstery introduces a subtle hint of color into the interior scheme.
The interesting and intriguing architectural finishes, regenerated with the utmost care, keep pace with the honesty of the home's surroundings.
Each bedroom maintains its own singular identity, providing a light yet romantically dignified feel to complement the magnificent views.
The arched windows in this, one of nine bedrooms, make way for sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea.
Exposed wooden ceiling beams, a weighty soaking tub, and tactile stone floors serve to re-create the bygone time period during which the house was first built.
AWI scoured Italy and beyond to source an assortment of antiques and contemporary tailored furniture. Acquiring the items took around six to eight months, with many early visits to markets and antique dealers.
This charming small desk was one of numerous antique furnishings the designers searched high and low for.
A wine room, an rejuvenated orange orchard, a hammam, and two swimming pools ensure an a rich experience that visitors to Masseria Petrarolo aren't soon to forget.
Masseria Petraolo is available for rentals throughout the year.
For more information or to inquire, visit masseriapetrarolo.com
Sherri Balefsky Hanson is a Miami-based writer, editor and graphic designer with more than a decade of experience working with luxury lifestyle publications. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband, Jeremy, and their adorable (yet utterly spoiled) Maltese, Joey.