Antonellocolonna: an Incredible Concrete Ship/Flat, with 12 Cabins and a Michelin Star on the Sails, Hidden in the Hills near Rome.
It’s a very strange place. A very special one. A shelter. An uncompromising place.
No Italian subtleties there – it’s Japanese Japan only.
Made up your mind?
Let’s go, then. Enter coordinates «41.782076, 12.874318» in your GPS. Forget the address, it won’t help.
Get off A1, and then go all along those twisting roads, through the single-track railway bridge, along the forest avenues, which accrete and form tunnels, right to the sign. You’ve arrived.
There’s a concrete mansion on the hill, or rather under the hill. It’s built-in, it has firmly grown into the hill. Lazy rye’s licking its concrete platform (if they haven’t mown it yet).
The only thing that’s missing is the black sky with the scattering of stars, which would form an amber dome and be seen during the day, as it happens only in the center of the Galaxy. If so, it would be the place from my childhood dreams. Though there (in my dreams) some unpleasant brothers of mine used to come to see me, they were with black eyes and four white button pupils. In fact, I’ve never had any brothers.
It’s an independent project of the chef.
Once very long time ago I was lost in the contemplation of Tadao Ando’s books, going crazy about his Church of the Light, the one with the cross. Then, while hanging out in Tokyo, I finally got a chance to see his architecture, touch the silk concrete with my own hands and watch the light lay down on it. Ever since I’ve always dreamed of house like that.
The house is the project of another architect – not Ando – but the ideology is obviously the same.
The radicalism of the place can be scary at first. Even for me! Though everything’s fine: a flat house under a hill, sinking in the rye, concrete, incredible, beautiful, but… self-leveling floor? Seriously? 1200 square meters of empty void? Merely plain loft, without any compromises, without the slightest attempt to play to the crowd/guests?
A flat concrete mansion, only one floor (the house can be any type if it is one storey high (c)), 2/3 of which is … Void™.
The public spaces are full of museum-quality furniture, some items of which cost tens of thousands Euro. There’s no reception, the kitchen flows into the bar, through the fireplaces you can shoot. There’re chairs/armchairs/sofas everywhere: Mackintosh/Corbusier/Vitra. Anywhere you’d take a seat, there’s a reception, a work place, a dinner. If you like, you’re welcome to sleep in the gallery on a huge empty Chester or watch the rye. The shop is right here, with any kind of food. There’s a wardrobe-room with wine.
Glass is everywhere, from the floor up to the ceiling, instead of walls, cut into the yellow mown rye. You can open any door and come out straight into the grass, climb up the hill to the roof along the concrete board towards the swimming pool, “infinity” shear of which abuts the vineyard.
Such architecture is extremely addicted to light, which sometimes makes it insufferably beautiful.
For example, when wandering around in the morning, you can see this, and this, and this, and this, and this. It’s a pity that we seldom manage to dwell in such a place. Usually we just stop by for an hour or so like visiting a museum.
But only if you stay for several days and get a chance to observe the positions of light on the concrete which during the day transform the space a bit more than entirely, dissolving in the plasticity, in the concrete paraffin that is punctured clean through by light, you’ll finally understand the actual reason why this architecture is unique. And there’s no other way to see it, no catalogues will ever help: only with your own eyes.
In the evening, to your surprise, you start to realize that the number of staff and of the guests are approximately the same. The guests are accommodated by couples/small groups all around the Void, and as there’s only one floor, no stairs, no elevators, the journey from one end to another, 80 meters at most is to be made on foot.
So, at some point you suddenly get the feeling that you’re not in a hotel, but that you’ve rather come to visit someone’s huge apartment, which is by some reason forgotten in the rye field. So here is the chef smoking cigarettes with guests. All of a sudden, cinema can be organized IN ANY PLACE, the gallery is over there, and right here you turn to your bedroom.
There’re only 12 rooms.
Shadows are all around, someone’s laughter can be heard in the corridor at a distance, suddenly you find a SPA with a pool under a small roof; then there’s again glass up to the ceiling, right into the rye: move it and you’ll see a hill, bass, figs, bulb tomatoes.
Fall into the Corbusier’s chair and flip through the 7-pages champagne list, in which Krug costs only 190 Euros and Dom – 210 (geez, what the fuck?!); or just like that you can wander between small houses such as Philipponnat and monsters like Salon. You get a bottle, some local salamis with it, some kind of goose blood, and the thinnest prosciutto’s fat, thawing like ice cream, which indeed goes perfectly with Krug™.
Time to sleep.
In my «childhood» I would practically die of happiness after seeing such a house in the rye à la Tado Ando . Now I take it easier – just observe, just observe (c) – but all the same it still makes me slightly high.
Here they have a very funny Michelin/craft breakfast. Because of the “flatness” of the hotel, it takes 40 meters at most to reach the place where the breakfast is served and this fact actually increases the feeling that you move around in a huge apartment: you just put on your swimwear and a singlet, slip into your sandals, rub your eyes and walk…
… and then quite unexpectedly you come and see a fancy table all set up.
Ricotta with apricot/pear/peach comfiture is awesome as fuck. Well, the general atmosphere is of something madly aristocratic, kind of.
There’s again more staff than guests, twice as much. Everyone’s at the seacoast, ha! But we’ve seen it all! The staff runs like an electronic clock: they are invisible / you can’t hear them, don’t even tick, but everything does function.
Time on its own kind of smooths here in this shelter: light on the walls, a pool, a pigeon, Château d’Yquem in glasses, dry grass, you can secretly have some tomatoes from the garden…
Stop. A few words about the food.
This is a one-star Michelin restaurant. At first we kind of didn’t like it, but! We did fulfil our duty, we gobbled up everything from the menu, and here you have our selection of a few really excellent dishes. The indisputable victory goes to the “turned inside out” carbonara, the pigeon gets 5 points out of 5, the meat is great, ravioli in bloody Mary are nice, the pork is crunchy and good, then there come: smoky pasta with white beans, soup in a cocktail glass, and codfish. They can also make any simple dish like classic pizza/pasta there, so you won’t be starving.
But! — for the fans of simple/tasty food, there is a secret: the chief recommended us to drive 20 minutes and get some superb fishy/shells/armor-plated grill — simple and wildly delicious.
I will return.
PS: Man, now again I want this kind of house, lost in pines on a hill.