Perched atop a grand Italian palazzo-turned-design hotel, this two-room retreat is masterfully minimalist

A dark colour scheme and streamlined furnishings display a distilled elegance for small-space living

Small space apartment perched above Italy’s Palazzo Daniele design hotel
Alberto Strada

Passing through the frescoed halls of Palazzo Daniele, you may spy a large, ancient cupboard. Open its doors and you’ll discover a stone staircase that leads to the small but polished residence of Francesco Petrucci, fifth generation of the family who own this neoclassical marvel, built in 1861. Sat on top of the building’s grand arches, his two-room apartment is the perfect setting to view the changes that have been taking place in the rooms and courtyards below.

Small space apartment perched above Italy’s Palazzo Daniele design hotel
Alberto strada

Francesco had spent 10 years travelling the world before he chose to return to his family home located in Gagliano del Capo, a rocky stretch of coastline on the tip of Puglia. At the time, one wing was inhabited by an aunt, but now, with the help of his friend Gabriele Salini, owner of the GS Collection of luxury Italian design hotels, which includes G-Rough in Rome, the palazzo has been transformed. ‘It’s frequented by young, elegant international guests,’ says Francesco, who worked with two more friends, legendary Italian designers Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, on its interior.

Entering this nest of a home is like being transported into a magical space

‘Today, I entrust the running of Palazzo Daniele to safe hands,’ says Francesco, ‘but it’s still my home.’ Like the nine suites below it, what he calls his ‘invisible black cube’ has a clean aesthetic, furnished with minimal designs, his most loved artworks and a few pieces that evoke memories. The Turkish kilim that provides one of the few spots of colour in this moodily dark space originally graced the floors of the palazzo below.

Small space apartment perched above Italy’s Palazzo Daniele design hotel_
Alberto Strada

There is no need for too much decoration; the penthouse’s original cocciopesto (a form of traditional plaster) floor already gifts this space enough grandeur. Instead of bright colour, texture plays an important part – ‘Informale’, a wallcovering by architect and artist Riccardo Cavaciocchi for Paper Factor features in the bedroom. Elsewhere, dramatically draped linen from Tessitura Calabrese separates the bathroom from the rest of the apartment.

Entering this nest of a home is like being transported into a magical space, one which Francesco describes as ‘small and unexpected, floating outside time’. The biggest thrill, though, he says, is its 1,500-square-metre terrace, an outdoor space that circles the palazzo’s central courtyard. ‘When I invite some of the hotel’s guests up for a drink, the wow effect is guaranteed.’ palazzodaniele.com

For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration March 2020

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