Studio Andrew Trotter’s most recent project Casa Soleto is housed within a 17th-century palazzo in a quiet village in the heart of Puglia. Andrew and his partner Marcelo Martinez lovingly restored the historic building to offer guests an authentic experience of “the village life”.

Situated in “the heel” of “the Italian boot”, Soleto is a sleepy village steeped in culture and history. “The town feels like it’s been lost in time, like a set from an old movie,” Andrew says. “The kids still play in the streets; the old men debate on the stairs, the grandmas make pasta. The area is known for its fantastic food, great coffee and pasticciotti (small cream-filled cakes).”

Surrounded by beautiful baroque villages, including Galatina, just five minutes away and Lecce, twenty, Soleto is located directly halfway between two pristine coastlines. To the south, you have untouched sandy beaches; to the north, you have rocky coves, with only a 25-minute drive to each.

Andrew stumbled across the palazzo in September 2020, but it wasn’t on the market then. “I pleaded with the real estate agent, telling him we had to come to see the house. After much persuasion, he agreed, and we visited the house and fell in love. Being inside, it was like time stood still.” Two weeks later, he got the call that the original offer had fallen through – the house was theirs.

Built in the 1700s, the building had all the charming characteristics of a baroque-period palazzo: brick cladding, high-vaulted ceilings, an outdoor courtyard and garden, and its own chapel. The building’s age, however, did present several challenges for Andrew and Marcelo. The walls in places were beginning to crack and erode, and some of the ceilings needed replacing, not to mention there was only one bathroom in the whole house. “It needed a lot of work before it could be lived in – more than we had initially predicted,” Andrew says.

But the result was well worth it. From the moment you enter through the courtyard, time really does stand still. First, you step into the main living space, which connects to the kitchen and behind that, where the old chapel used to be, the media room, which has its own powder room and outdoor shower. Connected to the main living space is a majestic dining room with another powder room and, on the opposite side, the ‘garden room’.

The upper floor is reached via a staircase in the entry courtyard. At the top of the stairs, you’ll find the ‘green room’, which acts as a landing for three spacious bedrooms, accommodating up to nine guests. Each bedroom and en suite – a significant improvement from the original one-bathroom house – offers something unique.

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On the upper floor, the bedrooms are connected via the ‘green room’. All of the internal doors were restored and the external doors were recreated by artisan woodworkers from Lecce.

As for the design itself, Andrew and Marcel wanted to maintain the building’s historic charm while bringing it into the present, which resulted in a delicate balance between restoration and modernisation. For furniture, the pair sourced antique pieces from around the village and paired them with several custom-made pieces. Most of the artwork they purchased themselves, except for three paintings that were done especially for the house by a good friend, Eleanor Herbosh. For the commission, she was sent three bags of soil, each taken from underneath a different room of the house, which she used to create the pieces.

“It has been a great experience working with so many great local artisans on this project, all of them very proud to help restore and bring to life one of the historic houses in the town,” Andrew says.

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Casa Soleto is located in a quiet baroque-period village in the heart of Puglia.

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