A panoramic, two-story loft with a secret pool in a historic Tuscan setting.
What is the story behind Palazzo Taja, what was your inspiration to create it?
I have lived in Siena for over 14 years now. While I was still working and living in Germany, I met my wife through an international project — we both work for a global vaccine company.
My wife, on the other hand, was born in Düsseldorf and left Germany at the age of 18 to study medicine in Rome before finishing her studies in Siena. The university here has a good reputation. She has spent most of her life in Italy and has always had a love for this country, its light and its culture.
After we met, I had the opportunity to move to Italy for a few years and manage projects here. As we got closer, I decided to move on a more permanent basis and convert my German contract into an Italian contract, with all of the consequences! That was around 2010/2011.
We have always known about the palazzo, as it’s on the main shopping street of Siena. It’s one of the older and more prestigious palazzos in Siena and is typical of a Tuscan tower built in the Middle Ages, which more or less showed the wealth of the families behind them. Today, we drive big cars. In the past, you built high towers to show off.
And that made you fall in love with the palazzo?
Yes. At its core is a tower, which is still preserved today, with the surrounding building expanded in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, Palazzo Taja spans three or four hundred years, from the front door to the final room. That’s starting from the core, from the 16th century, then moving into the main room, which is predominantly from the 18th century. The kitchen area is from the 17th century while the sleeping area is from the 19th century.
What particularly fascinated us, and this is really the gem of the palazzo, is that many of its frescoes have been preserved. Those in the kitchen date from the 17th century while the living area has frescoes from around 150 years later in the 18th century. And they are still in very good condition.
That was part of the challenge in restoring the property as the frescoes are very colourful and offer a lot of information. So we matched the architecture to that — it was something we immediately found exciting.
We completed the restoration in August 2019 and got the habitability stamp from the authorities shortly after. Then a colleague from Brussels mentioned that she was looking for a place to live as she works in Siena once or twice a month. She signed a three-year deal ahead of the pandemic and it will expire at the end of March when we will open it up for short-term rentals.
Who was responsible for the refurbishment?
The apartment was renovated and designed by Siena-based architect Paolo Mori. His objective was to preserve and enhance the features of the rooms such as the stunningly intact frescoes by contrasting the historic aspects with clean, contemporary design and materials characterized by a sharp black and white palette and warm neutrals.
How would you describe the atmosphere and the interior design of Palazzo Taja?
It’s very generous, with a ceiling height of 4.3 metres, so the rooms are really spacious. The design is shaped by the frescoes and I think we really succeeded with our architect, Paolo Mori, who has realized great projects here in the region.
The two main rooms — the living room and the kitchen — are the centrepiece of Palazzo Taja and when you’re there, you always discover something new. The frescoes provide you with a lot of information and I think the spaces have beautiful architecture in them. It's very simplistic and we kept the colours really simple to contrast with the frescoes and create a nice flow of energy.
The kitchen island is a block of marble and the appliances are high quality. It’s a great opportunity to invite people in to cook. The bedroom is very classic and calm — you can have a great rest there — with locally processed Tuscan beams on the ceiling. While the front of the house aligns with the main street (when you open the window you are in the middle of the hustle and bustle), the sleeping area faces the courtyard and is completely quiet.
A staircase leads to a mezzanine area above the main sleeping space where you could work by the window in peace. So it is very versatile and super centrally located. It’s also brand new too, so everything is in great condition.
To you personally, what makes the palazzo so special?
The house is mine — it’s “Prima Casa” for me. But it also has positive energy. We worked with Paolo Mori, who is a really great architect, and with the high ceilings, the frescoes, the choice of flooring coverings, the wall colours and furnishings, there’s a flow of energy similar to Feng Shui.
It's all very clear. I don't want to say “purist” but the decor we put in the palazzo just seems simple. It was super fascinating for me when I stayed there. Despite being in the middle of the hustle and bustle on the main street, you are in complete peace and you can’t hear anything in the bedroom. Healthy sleep is so important!
Overall, it's a work of art — maybe that’s a stretch! But we’ve managed to put our style in there and it’s just a pleasant space to be in.