Palazzina Alchimia is a vacation rental in a Puglian townhouse from the 18th century with one bedroom, tasteful interiors and a beautiful roof terrace with views of the sea.
What is the story behind Palazzo Nianu, what was your inspiration to create it?
It all started during the pandemic in 2021. Georg and I (who are both architects) had already collaborated on projects in Barcelona and we started to look for properties in Puglia online. I am from southern Italy and love the region while Georg visited around 10 years ago and fell in love with it too. It seemed that it was quite cheap to buy something nice and with some history behind it.
When we originally saw the listing for Palazzo Nianu, we had a good feeling about it. So we went to Neviano to see it and were convinced. You can feel the history in the building and the village felt authentic, with a slow living custom.
As we approached the palazzo, it was peaceful and relaxing. Then when you enter the building, there are two big columns and a staircase — it felt grand and important. The terraces have views of the village and the surrounding countryside — it was just super nice.
So we decided to buy it and began working on the restoration in December 2021 before opening to guests in August 2022.
It might have been risky to do something during the pandemic but I was excited too. It wasn’t easy, however, as we both live far away. We had a great connection with the construction company we worked with and the local carpenter I knew. With this kind of project, you need to be present (even if not physically) and it’s something that keeps you very busy. But with a good team, you can do great stuff.
It ended up being better than we thought and we are really happy with the feedback we get from guests. Everyone is amazed by the palazzo — the light, the comfort, the warmth. They really feel like they are having an Italian experience. This is what we were trying to achieve.
How would you describe the atmosphere and the interior design of Palazzo Nianu?
Our philosophy was to keep the interventions as minimal as possible while preserving the patina of the palazzo. So we retained all of the original walls, floors and doors and we used local techniques wherever possible. For example, the kitchens and bathrooms feature custom-made masonry that has been coated using a traditional waterproofing technique. Much of the furniture is also custom-made, mixed with some vintage pieces, such as my grandmother’s armchairs that I had reupholstered.
We wanted to highlight the slow living lifestyle that is typical of the village and retain the essence of a house from the south of Italy. It was a careful restoration in its details — the architecture already tells a story about the passing of time in this building and we wanted to make the story visible at first sight.
To you personally, what makes Palazzo Nianu so special?
Once you enter the palazzo, you can feel the authenticity of the place. The entrance area is my favourite part and we preserved as much as we could here. You can see the story of the place.