il tufo

July 20, 2011

More than once my family has been described as “the most Italian group of Scandinavians you’ll ever meet.” I think this is because of our love of slow food and loud dinner parties. My Aunt Sheila is however the only one of us actually putting this idea into practice. Every year, twice a year she and her husband, Mon, go to Italy to help Mon’s expat cousins harvest and press their olives and generally care for the grove. When they go, they always stay at Il Tufo.

Il Tufo is an ancient farmhouse owned by Fumo, a former Italian rapper and Eva, his Swiss wife. They purchased the farm as part of Italy’s Argiturismo movement, a program to save the region’s local farming tradition by allowing small farmers to supplement their incomes with guest accommodations. Il Tufo is located in the small town of Allerona, Umbria, where the local inhabitants produce 70% of what they consume.

When the couple acquired the farm, it was pretty dilapidated. With the help of Eva’s father, a retired architect, the couple set out to restore the historic house and grounds. Doing most of the work themselves, they fixed structural damage, restored the stucco walls, and laid down new tiles, to create an interior that was in keeping with the history and locale, but was also fresh and contemporary. Everywhere they took advantage of the dramatic light and scale of the house, opening up the space wherever possible. In addition the couple minimized distracting details and decor, so that the structural elements of the house itself – the honey colored beams and terra cotta floors – stand out as much as possible.

Likewise, the furniture is a casual mix of modern minimalism and period antiques, achieved with inexpensive Ikea pieces, such as the beds and living room chairs, as well as lovely historic objects, like the guilt frame at the entrance and the long Italian dining table. The overall effect is warm and welcoming, clean and comfortable, but also quite “hip” in a relaxed way. It’s the kind of design that just seems to roll out of some people, unforced and unpretentious, simply a natural extension of who they are.

Outside Fumo and Eva replanted the 5000 square foot organic garden, and repopulated the grounds with sheep, pigs and chickens. In their cantina (basement storage) they store sausage made from indigenous wild boar, cheese made by a local Sardinia guy, as well as olive oil and wine, that they make themselves.

If you’ve ever wondered why I sometimes have a cocktail recipe or wax on about laundry on what is supposed to be an interior design blog, you need look no further than Fumo and Eva’s Il Tufo. In a lifestyle like their’s where you “inhabit” everything you do, design, food, gardening, etc. are not unrelated. Indeed they are part of one big thing, an authentic, intentional, beautiful life.

a nook in the upstairs hall right outside a guest bedroom

another hall view showing the structural details of the home, including tiled floors, newly stuccoed walls, and the lovely wood beam ceilings

a guest bedroom
The door leads onto an upstairs terrace.

another bedroom view

the guest seating area
On cooler nights Fumo and Eva light a fire here and serve their own wine.

the entrance

the breakfast table
Every morning Fumo and Eva cook their own fresh eggs and serve them with homemade bread and jam.

Another view of the dining room showing a long table that has been in Fumo’s family since the late middle ages!

terrace cat

a late afternoon table with homemade wine

pigs and piglets

the view

the driveway

All pictures by Sheila Narusawa Bonnell.

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