REVIEW BY JUDITH NASATIR Elizabeth Minchilli understands rustic Italian design from the ground up. The American-born writer and her architect husband, Domenico, who live in Rome, translate their knowledge into what is, thanks to evocative photos by Simon McBride, a beautiful practicum for building or renovating a home in the Tuscan country style. Minchilli discusses the venerable two-story Italian farmhouse, with animals and tool storage at ground level, and hearth and living quarters upstairs. She illuminates artisan techniques used in building, from fieldstone walls and timbered ceilings to terra-cotta tile roofs and terrazzo floors. She waxes practical and poetic about pergolas, wood-burning ovens, and plastering and finishing techniques. For detailed information and insight into what makes those Tuscan houses so appealing, this book is a wonderful resource. --Veranda Magazine, Dec. 2009
So much more than a glorious photographic romp through restored farmhouses of the Tuscan countryside, this book delves into traditional Italian building techniques, such as laying a terra-cotta floor. Then it describes smaller changes you can make - such as incorporating terra-cotta planters into your decor - to capture the spirit without committing to a pricey overhaul. "The homes we visit in the hills of Tuscany and Umbria show innovative solutions to the challenges presented when bringing ancient homes into the twenty-first century," Minchilli writes. --Newsday, Dec. 4, 2009
In Italian Rustic, Elizabeth Manchili gives tips for adding Tuscan and Umbrian charm to your house. She gives instructions for redecorating both inside and out as well as suggesting simple ways to add a little bit of Italy to your garden or home decor. With its stunning photographs, this book makes a great gift for anyone who has stayed in a warmly decorated farm house in Tuscany or Umbria or anyone who wants to. Photos were taken at several farm houses where guests can stay so you might want to look through it before you plan your next visit to Tuscany. --About.com: Italy Travel
Author and avowed Italophile Elizabeth Helman Minchilli has brought Tuscany and its many ineffable charms into simple clarity and practical use in he most recent work, Italian Rustic: How to Bring Tuscan Charm Into Your Home. This, her sixth work on Italy, is sumptuously photographed by Simon McBride and cunningly illustrated throughout with easy-to-decipher how-tos.
Most books that seek to laud a style or a region, let alone both, fall prey to overstatement and sweeping generalizations, prose that while lovely on the ear doe not give the reader that much needed "take away." Italian Rustic is a veritable primer on how to mount your own Tuscan-charm offensive in your home, whether it is a studio apartment, a California ranch-style home or a country house in the Adirondacks.
Literally no home is left behind as Minchilli and her husband, architect Domenico Minchilli, uncover every scintilla of Tuscan-izable charm in the "rural Italian regions of Umbria and Tuscany." Having left the US for Italy following her studies n architectural history, Minchilli has brought Italian home and Italian design into the forefront of our national consciousness and with her we have become Italy-obsessed.
Broken down into 13 chapters, including Floors, Windows, Ceiilngs and Gardens, the Minchillis offer u p an entire house of information along with all the resources to re-create the beauty and details of Italian Rustic design. She rightly claims that we have a fascination with living "la bella vita," but at last we can discover that terra-cotta tiles, pergolas and stone walls are easily available outside of west central Italy and far from the Ligurian Sea.
We learn that the traditional Italian farmhouse had its entire ground floor devoted to housing animals and, therefore, the windows and exterior staircases and the very stonework that characterize Italian Rustic arose out of that immediacy with the land.
The design of these homes has its hallmark stone walls with bricks seemingly thrown in higgledy-piggledy, but really as essential reinforcements and levelers for other floors; mortar and tile are added out of utility but without the pretense of order and strict architectural demands, unlike classical architecture. This is a lifestyle that arose out of need and answers a demand for very practical needs.
It just so happens that we fell in love with this half barn/half house and its unplanned beauty. As Minchilli says "Nothing matched, things were added as they were needed, and everything had a use."
Minchilli gives all the history, instructions and even the companies that can bring home Italian Rustic. For stone working we can ring up UK-based Dry Stone Walling Association, for handcrafted doors we can go to Porte del Passato and for terra-cotta we can contact Fratelli Berti. The resources are encyclopedic.
Minchilli delivers this treasure trove of info with ardor and humor, saying, "A funny thing happened on the way to creating the modern Italian bathroom. At a certain point, Italians went tile crazy." We'd like to go Italian Rustic crazy.
Reviewed by Marcia Sherrill --1st Dibs Introspective, April 22, 2010