Armed with vivid memories of his childhood in Puglia, an entrepreneur enlists Studio Andrew Trotter to help transform a group of traditional buildings in his beloved home region
Red soil, turquoise seascapes, and the light grey colour of olive leaves: Giuseppe De Vanna was born and raised among the breathtaking colours of Puglia. Like many of his peers, at 18 years old he left his hometown in southern Italy to study economics in Milan. “But, as nature teaches us, life is circular,” says De Vanna. “The desire to leave becomes the desire to return. The best moments of my life have always been linked to my time in Puglia. Returning to my family, spending summer by the sea, enjoying the views between the olive trees and the cicadas song.”
During one of his walks in the countryside near the small town of Oria, De Vanna bumped into the ruins of Borgo Gallana, a former rural complex next to a centenary olive grove. He bought the entire plot of land and in 2018 contacted architect Andrew Trotter to work on the renovation. “So I’ve decided to shape my childhood memories,” De Vanna explains.
For Trotter, who knew the territory well and had already worked on the enchanting Masseria Moroseta near Ostuni, taking on the job was a pleasant way back to Puglia. He designed a courtyard between the existing structures already, added external staircases and a 40 sqm pool – extending the buildings to obtain three self-contained units.
With four finished projects and another eighteen on the go in the region, Puglia is particularly dear to the architect: “I like walking around the villages. It’s like finding yourself in a movie from the 1940s. The towns haven’t changed. It’s really the Italy of your dreams,” he says.
“Andrew has been able to interpret the simplicity of this place by employing local materials, artisans, and traditional methods of building, ” says De Vanna. The interiors have been furnished and styled with vintage tables, chairs, ceramics and lamps; and brands like Frama, Lumina, Bongio, Tine K, Gervasoni, and local tableware Nicola Fasano.
Artists Cosimo Terlizzi and Damien Modolo imagined the estate’s garden as a dedicated space to the Mediterranean ecosystem. They carefully selected native and endemic plants, some of which are in danger of disappearing – reintroducing them in the vegetation nearby.
“Borgo Gallana is the materialisation of my memories, my happy place, my mother’s unique Puglia, and my grandmother’s simple one,” says De Vanna. “It’s Italian life in the deep south.”