A Puglian palazzo is transformed from local relic to an art emporium-cum-hotel
A tide of inevitability often accompanies palazzo renovations. Original features, buffed and embellished, sing loudly to evoke a former life, and a reverence for both history and minimal modifications set the bar for authenticity. Yet at the recently restored 150-year-old Palazzo Daniele, the transformation is notable for its voids; a bold statement not only for a 19th century building, but for a property now embracing its new function as an art house-cum-hotel, which opens in an expanded form this April.
Located snug in Italy’s heel in the small Puglian village of Gagliano del Capo, Palazzo Daniele was originally built in 1861 as a family residence and has stood as a local legend in this corner of the Salento region ever since. Fast forward to 2019 and the stately neoclassical-style palazzo has now completed the final stage of a series of rebirths guided by owner and art philanthropist Francesco Petrucci, a descendent of the family for who Daniele was originally created. Along with Milanese design studio Palomba Serafini Associati, Petrucci has led the transformation of the property from local relic to private guesthouse to its current incarnation in a spirited revival that is practical and inspiring in equal measures.
Rooms are sparse and free of the excessive grandeur usually associated with traditional palazzos... and despite its storied history Daniele possesses an ever-present mystical lightness
Now a delicate tangle of original features, pared back contemporary design and, significantly, blank space, Palazzo Daniele is primed for its most current role. The hotel’s dual function as an art emporium is not only key to its reworked layout, which sees living areas now reimagined as exhibition spaces for Petrucci’s extensive art collection, but also significant in the palazzo’s treatment of empty space in its capacity as a hotel. Rooms are sparse and free of the excessive grandeur usually associated with traditional palazzos, instead filled with a careful scatter of design pieces, and despite its storied history Daniele possesses an ever-present mystical lightness. Here, visitors can expect to encounter Luigi Presicce and Mariano Fortuny lamps, Nicolas Party stools and seating by Driade, which sit alongside art pieces including a Simon d’Exea light box, Mohamed Namou’s ‘Pocket’, Carla Accardi’s lithography and ancient family portraits in a smooth merger of art, design and history.
The nine guest suites are minimal, marrying vaulted ceilings and original 19th century floors with monastic, centrally placed beds, steel framed open wardrobes and illuminated art installations. Bathrooms are similarly unadorned, led by Polomba’s exploration of the significance of absence, and are marked by standout details like custom-made sinks and faucets designed by the Milanese studio and produced by Twin and Pan. Aptly, the bathroom in the Junior Suite Royal is an exhibition-worthy feature, home to a functional art installation by Italian artist Andrea Sale in which water flows from the ceiling into a pietra serena basin in a dramatic reinterpretation of a rain shower. It’s all cushioned by a tumble of verdant courtyards and orange tree-filled gardens and rounded off with a pool surrounded by original 1950s Acapulco chairs – a fittingly palatial touch for this nook of modern majesty.