Idyll in the Sun: Flavio Albanese's Pantelleria Home

On a remote volcanic island south of Sicily, a renowned Italian architect creates his own personal Eden

On a remote volcanic island south of Sicily, a renowned Italian architect creates his own personal Eden
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Photography by Francesco Bolis

The Italian island of Pantelleria lies between Sicily and Tunisia, closer to Africa than Europe. Scarcely known in the U.S., the Mediterranean outpost has had its share of celebrity residents, including French film icon Gérard Depardieu and Calypso, the nymph of Homer's Odyssey. Since the late 1970s Pantelleria has also been home, at least some of the time, to the internationally renowned Italian architect and designer .

The pergola on designer Flavio Albanese's compound on the island of Pantelleria contains a Tokyo Pop lounge chair by and low-slung benches covered in pillows.

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Photography by Francesco Bolis

A dedicated modernist, Albanese creates environments that are angular, clean, and white—in a word, urban. But when he first saw the hardscrabble volcanic landscape of Pantelleria, he says, the effect was "as if I had been electrocuted. I had found my Shangri-la, my physical and spiritual Eden."

Albanese's photography collection, displayed in the dining area, includes images by Robert Mapplethorpe and Karl Lagerfeld. The chairs with cotton slipcovers are by Philippe Starck for .

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Photography by Francesco Bolis

Part of the attraction was the close relationship of the island's indigenous architecture to nature. In fact, he built his earth-loving getaway from a cluster of existing "dammusi," domed lava-stone buildings unique to the prehistoric native people.

In a hallway, the sofa is by , and the lamp is from ; in the room beyond are an armoire from Borneo, photo portraits by , and a vintage sofa from the historic in Palermo, Sicily.

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Photography by Francesco Bolis

The property is gently terraced, with lava walls and such creature comforts as a 25-meter pool and a natural amphitheater for concerts and film screenings. His goal was to make as little impact on the environment as possible.

A stainless steel and rattan armchair by sits beside an arched window in the master bedroom.

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Photography by Francesco Bolis

"I call it my silent project—I have only added small fragments to what was already there," says Albanese, who also designed the Pantelleria airport terminal in a more overtly modernist mode.

Chairs by and a series of small paintings by in the dining room.

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Photography by Francesco Bolis

He filled his rooms, his pergolas, and tented terraces with a mix of antiques and tribal carvings from around the world, as well as with contemporary furnishings from Milan. Hand-hewn chairs from the South Pacific sit beside sleek sofas and rotating works from his collection of photography and paintings. On the magical island of Pantelleria, Albanese is a contented curator with a touch of Prospero in him.

An outdoor living room with furniture by under a linen tent from Kurdistan.

ORIGINAL TEXT BY LUCA SELVI. Originally published in SiwebATION Netherlands.


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