Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Living in a Centuries-Old House ; Continual Maintenance Is the Price of Enjoying Frescoes and Tapestries

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Living in a Centuries-Old House ; Continual Maintenance Is the Price of Enjoying Frescoes and Tapestries

Article excerpt

Constant maintenance is needed to keep this sprawling residence in repair.

Living in a house that is three centuries old can have its benefits -- and its drawbacks. Just ask Claudio Rangoni Machiavelli and his wife, Tiziana Quartieri, who for the past 27 years have lived in a building with a staircase fit for a castle, frescoed vaulted ceilings, period furniture and 17th-century tapestries and paintings.

"We are continually doing work on the house. It is never ending," said Ms. Quartieri, an architect who specializes in renovations. "The heating, the courtyard, the facade -- there is always something to do. This is a permanent workshop. It's like having an old woman that you have to take care of and treat gently."

The residence, in this town of about 182,000 just north of Bologna, has its roots in the 15th century. It took its current shape in the early 18th century when ancestors of Mr. Rangoni Machiavelli bought and completely redid the building, which wraps around a large courtyard with a magnolia tree.

Mr. Rangoni Machiavelli, who owns 500 hectares, or 1,235 acres, of agricultural land in the area, was born in the house in 1953. (The Rangoni family traces its roots to at least the 12th century. The Machiavelli part of the surname was added in the 18th century when the last descendant of Niccolo Machiavelli, author of "The Prince," bestowed it on a relative.)

The family lives on the building's middle floor, which covers 1,100 square meters, or 11,840 square feet. The ground floor is rented out as offices; the top floor contains the family archive and apartments they rent out. The building connects to another smaller one across the street that also is rented, income that helps pay for upkeep of the buildings.

Half of the family's floor has kept its original 18th-century style. One of the seven large rooms is a ballroom with 10-meter, or 33-foot, ceilings. It was created in 1937 from a number of smaller rooms for the 18th birthday dance of Mr. Rangoni Machiavelli's aunt.

During the winter months this part of the house is closed to protect the furnishings and to reduce the huge heating bill. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.