Dolce & Gabbana’s villa on Stromboli
Monday, 30 November -0001

Wash your walls with colour

Pink, white and Jaffa orange… turquoise seas and palm trees. A shot of Mediterranean colour will give your life a much-needed boost

Written by Hugh St Clair

For those who missed the boat when it came to this month’s lemming-like rush for the ports and now find themselves damp and unwilling participants in a country enveloped in cloud and gripped by Olympics fever – help is at hand. There are two new books that will give you the illusion of being abroad in a sunny part of Europe.

Buy them: they’ll act on the brain like a ray of UV light. Both are photographed by renowned interiors photographer Massimo Listri and show fabulous houses surrounded by palm trees, with glorious views of azure sea.

House-July20-02-590Left: Tenuta Trullo Sovrano in Puglia is made up of 14 trulli, a type of dry-stone hut with a conical roof that is typical of the Puglia region. Right: Il Castelluccio in Sicily

Mediterranean Home is stuffed with wonderfully extravagant interiors, such as the villa of Dolce & Gabbana in Stromboli, Italy. It also includes simpler designs, such as Salvador Dalí’s former fisherman’s cottage in Port Lligat. The Dolce & Gabbana duo has embraced the idea of leopard-skin soft furnishings, contrasting them with cherubs flying across limegreen plaster walls. And the dining room has been covered with painted rep-resentations of Caltagirone ceramics.

As you’d expect, Dalí’s cottage is, well, surreal. A pigeon loft is surmounted by a plaster egg, with huge wooden forks protruding from each side. Enlarged photos of sea urchins are on the walls under a gigantic oriental umbrella. The Port Lligat house, a couple of hours’ drive from Barcelona in the coastal town of Cadaqués, is open to the public.

House-July20-03-590Villa Giachero in Beaulieu, France

Mediterranean Home explains the look. The defining decorative theme is bright, colour-washed plaster walls. At Casa Catastini, in Elba, Italy, pink and white bougainvillea winds its way round a Jaffa orange pigment plaster archway. This tinted, rough plasterwork, so difficult to replicate successfully in Britain, has long been a basic decorative feature of a typical farmhouse in Italy and Greece.

At the Villa l’Olmo near Argentario in Tuscany, in the Italian Home, a mustard tint running into deep plum has been applied below the original beams. But it doesn’t feel claustrophobic and hot, rather dark and shaded – a welcome escape from the bright sunlight outside.

House-July20-04-590Left: At the Casa Borgogni in Pietrasanta, Italy, the kitchen has a black slate floor and an unusual French stove. Right: The living room at the Casa Catastini in Elba

For those who could afford it, murals and trompe l’oeils were an essential part of a smart, fashionable interior. Particularly wonderful in the Italian Home book is Villa de Domo Alberini in southern Umbria. The 18th-century dwelling, a few kilometres from Spoleto, has exceptional wall paintings and is well worth a visit. A small room is painted with a woodland scene that includes local birds, while the walls of an attic depict scenes of daily life in a convent of the contemplative order of Poor Clares. There is even a virtual pharmacy decorated with painted and named potion and herb containers, and vases bearing the family coat of arms. This impressive villa was conceived not so much as a family home but as a place to entertain and impress guests.

Mediterranean Home by Massimo Listri (Thames & Hudson, £22.50).

Italian Home by Massimo Listri (to be published on 28 August by Thames & Hudson, £27.50).

For opening times of the Dalí House, go to

To visit Villa de Domo Alberini, call +39 0743 223 806 or go to

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