Situated between Catania and Syracuse on Sicily’s Ionian coast, Brucoli is an ancient fishing village. Rich in history, the local area has seen Neolithic settlements, colonization by the ancient Greeks, the coming and going of the Roman Empire, and, in the Middle Ages, occupation by the Normans and Aragonese. A fixture through all these periods, however, has been the canal that runs from where the Porcària River meets the Mediterranean. This area forms a safe, sheltered harbor, a landing place for trade vessels over the centuries and now also for pleasure craft. A lighthouse has operated on the rocky peninsular at the harbor entrance since 1911. The lighthouse support building became the responsibility of the Italian Public Property Agency. Then, in 2015, a tender was issued for repurposing the complex as a tourism and cultural facility. The result is the boutique hotel that now occupies the site.
The project, led by Giuseppe Di Vita from Caltanissetta-based studio Itinera, reflected the standard approach to restoring buildings of a certain historical importance, taking into account the nature and severity of the deterioration of the structure (walls, fixtures, stuccowork, and so on), but also involved decommissioning and repurposing the lighthouse. The lighthouse is located in an area of great tourist interest. The site is dominated by views of Mount Etna and the sea, which surrounds it on three sides. The history of the place is woven from different settlements and traders, the harbor itself, and the nearby 15th-century Aragonese castle. All these elements constitute the backdrop and inspiration for a project marked by a painstaking attention to the quality of its spaces, reflected in the intermingling of indoors and outdoors, the furnishings chosen, the external ring of stone blocks that surrounds the building, and the rooftop terrace, distinguished by its elegant ceramic tiling. The interior has two levels with an added mezzanine level, made possible by the height of the existing space and the restoration of the archivolts around the high windows in the outside wall. These windows now play a vital role in providing natural light to the upper level, with light entering at floor level on the south side and from above via the row of windows at the top of the structure.
In both a practical and symbolic sense, the building remains a signpost. The lighthouse tower itself is to the northeast. Its atmospheric spiral staircase – accessible from the outside to the east – now leads up to a rooftop terrace. With its colors, materials, exposed stone base, and stuccoed upper section marked with a red stripe, the tower retains its original identity. Through an expressive simplicity deriving from its own elegance, it communicates an idea of reinvigorated architecture.
The ground floor, dedicated to socializing, features elegant Modica stone slab flooring. The space is divided into two separate but communicating areas along the east-west axis. From the entrance on the east side, a small double-height atrium leads to a lounge, conversation, and entertainment area with a fireplace and sweeping views across the sea through portholes and large windows. The other section combines a dining area and kitchen with quality appliances. The view here is of the Aragonese castle. A small space is also dedicated to health and wellbeing.
On the second level there are two suites, one offering sea views and the other views of the castle. A great deal of attention has gone into the design of the shower and tub systems, with the tub in the inland-facing room freestanding. A third, smaller room completes the floor. Floorboards have been used throughout.
The project has transformed a lighthouse building into a boutique hotel. The way it integrates the surrounding landscape with its luxurious indoor/outdoor spaces is the result of a design that combines elements of renovation, restoration, and a touch of reinvention, all resulting in a sensitive repurposing of the building.
Architect: ITINERA STUDIO ASSOCIATO
Location: Sicily, Italy
Photography by © Benedetto Tarantino, Rosario Scalia
courtesy of ITINERA STUDIO ASSOCIATO
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