Villa Bibbiani is a residential complex located on the southern slopes of Montalbano, Tuscany. With the intent of restoring the property to its former glory, in 2017 Italian studio Pierattelli Architetture began a building renovation project of some of the spaces: the residential spaces, the stables, the orangery, the hothouse and the theatre.
Intended for residential and rural use, the principal buildings in the complex are the main villa, including a theatre and private chapel, the farm, the early twentieth-century stables, and the wine cellar. The property also includes agricultural buildings, various farmhouses, and a medieval icehouse.
The buildings which make up Bibbiani occupy a total surface area of 11,000 m2 and are located on an estate, which includes 380 hectares of adjoining land and 20 of parkland. Originating in different eras, they are the result of changes occurring over a span of more than a thousand years – construction dates back to the 8th century, with further works following in the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The botanical garden extends over roughly 20 hectares and is considered to be one of the most important of Italy. Around the Villa are Italian and English-style gardens, while woods and meadows occupy the other areas.
Renovation of the main villa
The villa itself consists of a main building with imposing towers – in keeping with the typical Tuscan Renaissance style – and of other volumes added over time, housing the theatre and the building once used as an orangery, among others.
Work carried out on the villa by Pierattelli Architetture included restoring the exterior, renovating the interior, including the theatre, and converting the former orangery into a swimming pool.
Externally, renovation of the main block involved cleaning the facade, the stone elements, the wooden decorations, windows and doors, as well as insulating the roof and rebuilding it through the replacement of damaged tiles.
The interior restoration of Villa Bibbiani takes its cue from a desire to maintain its historic character as much as possible, while at the same time improving the use and distribution of the spaces. The complex’s strong Renaissance and aristocratic influence guided the choice of materials and finishes, favouring the use of handmade terracotta for the floors, warm materials such as Walnut wood, and the cooler tones of Onyx stone.
The ground floor houses most of the aristocratic spaces, often frescoed and decoratively embellished: the reading room and the billiard room have been connected via the reopening of a pre-existing passage, which at some point over the years had been closed off.
Some spaces - previously used as service areas - were optimised with a view to making them more practical and functional, while the kitchen and pantries have retained their original use.
Restoration of the basement level involved restoring its original connection with the ground floor, in order to optimise and facilitate its use.
The loggia and the towers were upgraded through the introduction of glazing which allows a 360 degree view of the surrounding landscape.
The theatre, on the first floor of the secondary block, has architectural features and painted friezes framing city vistas and landscapes. The restoration involved repairing the frescoed Grand-Ducal theatre and the ceiling, marked out by box-shaped elements with multiple sections, all finely decorated, initially in an extreme state of disrepair.
Inside the orangery, an imposing building occupying the villa’s third volume, laid out over a single floor and featuring large rectangular windows, a swimming pool was built, with walls clad in Verde Alpi marble and floor in Calacatta marble. The numerous windows overlooking the garden bring light into the space and establish an unbroken dialogue with nature, an effect also accentuated by the brass-framed green walls. Adjacent to the pool are two bathrooms and a shower area.
Built in the early 1900s during the time of the Franchetti family, the Villa Bibbiani stables are on the right-hand side of the villa, near the romantic garden built by Marquis and agronomist Cosimo Ridolfi. These buildings, arranged in an L-shape and with a red-brick facade, housed stables for the horses on the ground floor and dwelling spaces on the first floor. The iron and glass hothouse stands adjacent to one of the Stables’ two wings.
The restoration project of the stables by Pierattelli Architetture encompassed the facades, the interiors, and the renovation of the hothouse, which was in a precarious condition.
The restoration of the stables involved cleaning the facade and resurfacing the plasterwork with due care for the original decorations. In addition, the windows, doors and frames, the roofing, and the external flooring were also rebuilt.
Inside, the firm also carried out restoration of the damaged sections of masonry, painted the rooms, and cleaned the interior of the roof space. The Villa Bibbiani stables now feature terracotta flooring and spaces accentuated by the clever use of lighting.
The adjacent iron and glass hothouse has been completely restored: the metal fixtures and decorations were cleaned, brushed and a specific anti-rust treatment was applied.
Architecture, interiors, industrial design: Pierattelli Architetture’s projects combine functionality, aesthetics and innovation in a multidisciplinary approach.
Founded in Florence in the ‘80s by architect Massimo Pieratelli, the studio today employs a team of some 20 professionals, led by Massimo Pierattelli together with his sons Andrea and Claudio Pierattelli.
With its strong corporate vocation, Pierattelli Architetture began by specialising in the design of corporate offices and banks but over the years the firm's activity expanded into the hospitality, residential and product design sectors.
Every piece of architecture, space or product is custom built in the name of extreme design flexibility, scrupulous contextual interpretation, the needs of the client and historical significance, to generate balanced, contemporary solutions.
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