This 19th-Century Naples Apartment Fuses Old-World Character With Modern Charm. Here’s a Look Inside.
With its nearly 15-foot-high frescoed ceilings, collection of paintings and bronze statues that span centuries and well-traveled owner, Giorgia D’Apuzzo’s Naples flat is architect Giuliano Andrea dell’Uva’s knowing tribute to the Grand Tour.
“In the 1700s and 1800s, travelers came to Naples, taking inspiration from places like Pompeii and spreading it through Europe—that history is very felt in this city,” says dell’Uva, noting that Naples served as the capital of various kingdoms from 661 until Italy’s unification, in 1861. “This apartment references that patrimony.”
More from Robb Report
How to Make Spaghetti Alla Bottarga, the Classic Sardinian Pasta Packed With Umami
Art Collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Buying a Private Island, Costume Jewelry and Making Her Own Rosé
LVMH's Bernard Arnault Runs His Luxe Conglomerate From a Swanky $5,300 Office Chair
Both fiercely proud Neapolitans, dell’Uva and D’Apuzzo, a 29-year-old wealth manager, aimed to convey the particular dynamics and aesthetics that define their city via the 3,700-square-foot space in the chic Chiaia neighborhood, juxtaposing ancient and contemporary art, bold and muted hues and historical and modern materials.
“I wanted us to keep the character of historic Neapolitan houses, with their elegant and slightly formal approach and their embodiment of the art and beauty typical of my splendid Naples,” D’Apuzzo says of her three-bedroom home, which dates to 1890. “At the same time, I wanted the space to have a new life, with a more updated, minimalist sensibility.”
“We’re combining a lifestyle that’s homey and also really exclusive and refined,” adds D’Apuzzo, who intends to use the apartment both to host her many international friends and to rent out for extended stays, private dinners, fashion shoots and art exhibitions.
Her desire for an accessible elegance informed dell’Uva’s plans; the architect says he sought to “harmonize what’s old and antique with what’s new.” His team of local restorers and artisans stripped away the white paint covering most of the walls, revealing bands of faux-marble motifs as well as several preparatory sketches for the ceiling frescoes that were added to the dining room around 1910. Another happy surprise: a sketch of a wrought-iron grate that was ultimately fabricated and hung over the apartment building’s entrance, fancifully rendered by the original architect and now providing a whimsical focal point to the living room.
Once the walls were exposed, dell’Uva developed a Pompeii-inspired palette, working with master painter Nicola Dublino to lacquer them in strategically placed blues, greens, yellows, ochres and reds. The reflective surfaces provide compelling backgrounds for D’Apuzzo’s art collection, an eclectic blend of 1860s oil paintings and modern and contemporary works by Sol LeWitt, Robert Barry and David Tremlett.
“The art world is a significant part of Naples,” dell’Uva notes. “Here, we’ve put great contemporary artists and ancient paintings. It was also what upper-class Neapolitan families did in the 1800s: mixing new works with family heirlooms, so the space continues to live, updating itself.”
In a sentimental nod to the Fusco family, who commissioned the building and whose descendants still inhabit the rest of its apartments, a pair of oil portraits depicting Fusco ancestors hang near the entryway.
“They have been in the apartment since it was built,” says dell’Uva. “It was a sign of respect, to keep the portraits alive here.” The paintings, displayed against a blue moiré wall and above a sofa of the same hue and pattern (the wallcovering and fabric are from Dedar), share a small formal sitting room with a steel-topped coffee table and a marble fireplace, both of dell’Uva’s design, and a pair of 1960s floor lamps by Anders Pehrson.
Late-20th-century pieces feature prominently throughout the airy spaces, with Pierre Paulin’s oversized curved Osaka sofa in the living room, an Ettore Sottsass console in the foyer and Luigi Caccia Dominioni table lamps in the office. Dell’Uva also found ways to add Neapolitan touches: Chairs originally from the city’s celebrated San Carlo Theater surround the 1970s black-marble dining table by Angelo Mangiarotti. On a dining room wall, dell’Uva designed a small iron shelf to hold an antique soup tureen from Capodimonte, the historic Naples factory renowned for its 18th-century porcelain. A bronze statue, evoking Pompeii, stands in the entryway.
Dell’Uva integrated majolica, a glazed earthenware popular in Naples since around the 1600s and particularly prized in the city’s cloister of Santa Chiara, in an unexpected way: using tiles “almost as a kind of upholstery” for the bathroom walls, where they add a contemporary feel and reference local craft. Custom-made iron doors with inset glass finish each of the bathrooms.
Similarly, in the primary bedroom, dell’Uva blended old details with a fresh approach, extending an existing carved wooden headboard, monogrammed with the Fusco family’s initials, with steel panels on either side, and bisecting the room horizontally with swaths of saturated color.
“I wanted to cut the room in two, leaving a green tint that united everything,” he says. “The bed and the wardrobe had always been there, but I wanted to break the old context and bring it to the present.”
Sleek materials anchor the kitchen, with its Bulthaup steel-and-wood cabinetry, chosen both for its industrial look and because it could fit in the center of the room, leaving the walls fully exposed.
It’s a choice that D’Apuzzo applauds. “The most interesting part of the project was profoundly ‘stripping’ areas of the apartment, letting the bare walls exalt the beauty of the original panels and the historical floors,” she says.
“Giuliano succeeded in making every corner of the apartment into a singular moment.”
And each moment, dell’Uva says, encapsulates his hometown.
“Naples is very aristocratic, but also very humble,” he explains. “You have these grand old palaces next to apartments with washing lines. It’s part of the magic and alchemy that you breathe here, a very particular mix.”
Best of Robb Report
The 10 Priciest Neighborhoods in America (And How They Got to Be That Way)
Sign up for Robb Report's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.