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VIA DIETRO GLI ORTI 37 & STRADA FILIPPO MARIA GUIDI 15
GUARDIA SANFRAMONDI, BN, ITALY
The Arthouse sits in the old town’s stunning south-facing façade, above the part-feral, tumbling tiered gardens of the Via Dietro Gli Orti (Guardia’s most beautiful street) – the sound of birdsong and the rushing waterfall gently filter into the rooms of this very special dwelling.
It’s a glorious collection of rooms right in the heart of the town’s atmospheric medieval quarter; an historical building that once housed Domenico Bruno, and which has a chapel and beautiful stucco details.
The house is well known as it has been my base as protagonist in Guardia’s old town and cultural rejuvenation (I hold the keys to the city). It was twice used in House Hunters International (an American TV show), and has been in numerous Italian and international TV interviews, blogs and features.
It has also been a place of healing and transformation – it would very much suit a person seeking La Dolce Vita …or just La Dolce Far Niente!
This magical place has acted as a potent conduit for my artistic and spiritual potential: it has been the most powerful setting to really find my creative core, and to enter the flow of prolific making, thinking, visioning. Many of my visitors over the years have commented on the strong sensation of inspiration, expansive energy and their urge to create in this house and town, and have spoken about very surprising coincidences and synchrony that seem to emanate from the setting. If you’re looking for a place to delve deep into any kind of creative or sacred practise… read on:
140 m² floor area with a large (shared) entrance hallway from the top street.
10 rooms: 4 main rooms: big sunny one behind a panoramic balcony, spacious kitchen, chapel room (with a second, partial-panorama balcony), and an old stable downstairs.
Two entrances from the street: from Strada Filippo Maria Guidi 15, by a new door with intercom entry system, and from Via Dietro Gli Orti 37. The upper street (F M Guidi 15) leads into a newly-renovated hallway with big marble steps down, which serves two other properties. The Arthouse has two entrances off this shared corridor; into the kitchen on the left, and into the big sunny room with panoramic studio on the right. The lower street entrance has two big wooden doors, and is a private entrance directly into the old stable.
Two balconies, one covered and with a series of steps and planter with a pomegranate tree – and a spectacular panoramic view. You hear the Ratello waterfall and birdsong from the gardens below, here; lovely natural ambience.
short film showing you around the kitchen
The kitchen has a fireplace and a marvellously efficient 80l Boschetti water heater, which runs on electricity or fuel (wood/ tronchetti) – this works for both the shower and the bath downstairs. There’s also a ceramic sink, and some built-in cupboards and shelves. The kitchen is tiled up to around 2m, with funky ‘60s floral designs, and the floor is also tiled in lovely burnt umber squares.
Behind the kitchen is a space that I adapted into a larder, which sits under a stunning decorative stucco arch complete with angel, fruit and flowers. The larder has built-in shelves and storage spaces, as well as pieces of the original altar (that would have been in the chapel room next door).
The chapel room has a beautiful decorative arch dividing it into two spaces, which I painted bright colours to accentuate the stucco. It also has one in-built cupboard with shelves, and one wall with remnants of original patterned block-printing in heaven-blue, which I left because it is so nice.
The big sunny room on the right-hand side of the house has big windowed doors leading onto the balcony. With them open, you can hear the birds and waterfall, and it is an excellent workspace or bedroom.
This room has two additional back rooms, one with a single letto-a-castello (platform bed around 1.2m off the ground, reached by a ladder).
The first bathroom (off the kitchen) has an open shower, good plumbing, built-in cupboards under the sink, and a variety of shelving above the sink – and a bulb-lit mirror. It has good drainage, as it sits on a balcony above the lemon tree and street garden. And there are lovely vintage tiles on the floor. There’s a sun room right next to this bathroom, which has a big old-school washing sink with a scrubbing board built in (I use this for cleaning brushes, etc), and as mentioned in the video, the panorama is viewable from the shower and also from the kitchen table. This bathroom is for guests – the second bathroom with the bathtub is downstairs under the kitchen.
There are vaulted ceilings in both the kitchen and chapel room, as well as in the back room from the big sunny room.
The lower bathroom is an open space, but would be easily adaptable as suggested below. It has a glorious window with medieval iron (security) grid, and a sweet old ceramic bath (or a space to put an even bigger one in). It is a really good space to relax in.
The old stable room is also highly practical for an event, shop, gallery space – I’ve used it for all of those! It has a double letto-a-castello (platform bed), reached by a small ladder, which is perfect for a summer sleeping space. The two downstairs rooms have big arched ceilings that are roughly finished but beautiful.
The ‘inner sanctum’ room above-and-behind the kitchen and central cantina, is an incredibly peaceful space, if quirky… It’s ideal either for an office, storage, guest bedroom (I use it for all three of these) and/ or a meditation space. It’s as quiet as can be, as it’s in under the ground.
The central cantina is down some steps behind the kitchen and larder. It’s the connecting room for this side of the house, as you can go on up into the top-furthest-most-back room, and also down to the second bathroom and old stable/ shop room, from here.
The back-of-the-studio bedroom is neat and cosy, beautiful as a sleeping space, in under the ground and quiet, or as a sewing room, store-room, library, etc.
The back-back-of-the-studio room is another great sleeping space, again in under the ground, and has original medieval door and sacred geometry floor tiles.
The house has medieval air conditioning, also known as intelligent/ natural architecture: because it is built into the very rocks, it enjoys a certain geothermal ambience – a steady temperature that makes it warmer in winter and pleasantly cooler in the summer. The temperature can be regulated by opening and closing windows at the appropriate times of day.
The shared corridor and the main door – there’s a brand new front door with an entry phone and buzzer system. The shared corridor has a cleaning rota. There’s a space for a post box in front, and mains gas tubes as mentioned below.
We’re very central in the centro storico, and ideal for access from below or above on foot. For getting heavy items to the house, you technically can get a car to the front door on Strada F M Guidi, but it’s probably more convenient to park in the nearby Piazzetta Fabio Gollino, then use a trolley to bring things down.
There are mains gas tubes right in front of the Strada F M Guidi entrance, and also below, under the studio – I use a gas bottle just for my cooker, but mains gas and a heating system would be a good investment for the future.
The Arthouse has current B&B certification (to end of 2018), and was a 5-star, superhost, glowing reviews listing on Airbnb from 2012 to 2018. There is great potential for adapting the lower rooms of the house into a self-contained abode, and sleeping up to 5 B&B guests upstairs (2 x couples plus a child) – or for the whole house to be used by a family.
These two streets that the Arthouse straddles are the back-bone of the medieval quarter; they have a regular pop-up events and celebrations, and are beginning to attract young businesses, too. The Arthouse has been a hub of cultural activity since I arrived in 2011, and is the zone around the house is now becoming a focus for projects and events of all kinds.
The municipality are very happy to offer other spaces and e.g. publicity support, if you want to run events: the town is very open to cultural exchange and creative happenings.
I also wrote a book ‘The Insider’s Guide To Guardia Sanframondi’ which gives practical advice and guidance on how to avoid the pitfalls of moving to the town ** If you’re interested in the Arthouse but don’t know much about Guardia, I can send you an ebook version **
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