After renting the newly released dvd, I Am Love, and watching the film twice, I slipped it into my computer and captured a gazillion frames which I will be sharing with you over the next two days. Today’s post will be focusing on Villa Necchi Campiglio’s architecture and interiors. By using stills from the film and comparing them to photos of the house today, I hope to give you a complete picture. Friday’s post will be about the characters’ lifestyles, which includes their clothing, accessories, and other lifescapes.
Villa Necchi Campiglio. This magnificent villa, located in Milan, Italy, was re-opened to the public in 2008 after extensive and careful restoration. Designed by the Italian architect Piero Portaluppi and built between 1932-1935, the house was a haute bourgeois showpiece for sisters Gigina and Nedda Necchi and Gigina’s husband, Angelo Campiglio (the family were important producers of “objects in enameled cast iron and sewing machines”). It’s also a showpiece for Italian rationalist architecture, that fusion of neo-classicism and streamlined-but-still-adorned-and-detailed modernism so loved by Il Duce (indeed, rationalism and “fascist” architecture are so closely connected that Wikepedia uses the term “rationalist-fascist architecture”).
Portaluppi had also designed the original interiors. The villa’s soaring, impressively stolid rooms, with their lozenge stucco ceilings, walnut parquetry and heavy sliding doors, convey both an air of grandeur and a strict sense of discipline. In fact, in 1943, the house became a headquarters for the Fascist Republican Party, while the family repaired to the countryside. But when they came back, the original setup no longer made them happy. In the 1950s, 19th-century décor was in vogue among upper-class Italians, and the family called the designer Tomaso Buzzi to revisit the villa’s cold interiors. His tweaks, with the benefit of hindsight, are controversial to purists: among other things, Buzzi brought in ornate fireplaces, tapestries, carpets and wood paneling, as well as antique furnishings. In the words of the film’s director, Luca Guadagnino, “They added some cheesy elements that made the home strangely petit-bourgeois”. Guadagnino used his own set design while filming, and you can see the differences in my photo comparisons.
Fortunately for us, Gigina, who lived longer than her sister and husband and never had any children, died in 2001 at age 99 and bequeathed the house to Italy’s national trust for restoring and preserving historical buildings. After careful restoration this superb villa is now open to the public as a museum.
Exterior and Landscape
The Main Rooms on the Ground Floor
The Service Areas
The Bedrooms and Bathrooms
That’s enough for this post. Well, it’s probably too much. Friday’s post on the fashion and lifestyle of this film will be much shorter, but just as beautiful to look at.