1. Textiles. The fabric on this armchair is called Fortuny, named for its designer, Mariano Fortuny. Born in Granada, Spain, Fortuny moved to Venice and remained there until his death in 1949. In his Venetian workshop, he designed textiles, costumes and lighting, and engineered the machines that created his textiles. His workshop still remains today in Venice as a museum.
2. Vintage furniture. This is a vintage Florentine chest of drawers. The finish includes gold leaf detailing. This style of furniture was common in the 1940s and '50s. Other common pieces in this style are nesting tables, mirrors, picture frames, and trays, called Florentine toleware.
3. Rustic accessories. I really love this old bull's head over the range area. When I was a kid, I loved going to the butcher. (I know, why? Not sure, but my family ran a deli, and I was always around meat.) The butcher my family used was an old Italian guy, and he had a faux bull's head just like this one in his shop. This is a small touch that says old-world Italian to me.
4. Formal table settings. I love setting the table. Some of my favorite things my mother ever gave me were several of my grandmother's vintage Italian tablecloths. I cherish these tablecloths and use them often for family dinners. This apartment in Rome is set beautifully with fresh bread, flowers and Italian linens.
5. Al fresco dining. I really like eating outside. A small table and chairs for gathering are great in warm weather. I find the idea of more hardscaping versus grass appealing for this reason. There is also the opportunity for low-water landscape design with hardscaping.
6. Loggias. A loggia is almost like being outside, but of course the gathering areas are covered. A loggia is a wonderful addition to a bedroom or dining room. This one features groin-vaulted ceilings and hanging pendants.
7. Gravel driveways. I love the sound of gravel. It reminds me of home. Gravel is a low-cost and low-maintenance material. Available in many colors, it fits right in with Italian-style architecture.
8. Exterior stone. Common in the Italian countryside, stone exteriors exemplify rustic, casual living. I just adore this architectural style. The imperfect, uneven textures suit my carefree side.
9. Olive trees. The sage green of an olive tree reminds me of my grandmother's garden. She used to grow tomatoes and have olive trees. To this day I think of her when I smell tomatoes on the vine. Olive trees are available in non-fruit-bearing varieties if you don't like the mess of the falling olives. They are also very hardy and require little water.
10. A farm table. Picture this farm table with fresh fruits and cheeses, crisp bread and olive oil for dipping. Oh yes, and wine, lots of wine. Now picture about 15 people cramed around the table with all ages represented, from babies to 80-year-olds. That's what my family's dining area looked like when I was a kid — meals were practically a contact sport. Farm tables, with all their rustic charm, are great for gatherings.
11. Reclaimed doors. Using reclaimed materials is a win-win. They look great and add instant character to rustic Italian architecture. Doors with faded paint and rusty hardware are authentic, and you get to extend the life of these beautiful architectural remnants for future generations.
12. Terra-cotta roof tiles. On that same note, reclaimed terra-cotta roof tiles are my favorite detail in Italian style-architecture. Reclaimed tiles are really the best looking in my opinion. The patina from years of weathering is actually a bonus. Notice the great combination of exterior stone and terra-cotta tiles here. Now that's Italian!