Centuries-old villages and farmhouses, set against a backdrop of rolling hills, cypress and olives groves, dot the landscape of Tuscany. Rich in history, this Italian province hosts a distinctive blend of architectural influences, including Roman, Medieval and High Italian Renaissance.
In Florence, reminders of ancient Rome loom in the form of massive columns, carved reliefs and impressive domes, but rural life is the true heart of Tuscan design. Visitors fall in love with vernacular Tuscan architecture -- the people who built these homes used the materials at hand. Tuscan design is strong, simple, romantic and rustic all at once. By incorporating Tuscan lines, colors and textures, you too can live la bella vita. The good life.
Tuscan Lines and Exterior Elements
Low-slope hip-style roofs feature terracotta flat or barrel tiles. Single-level roofs are rare; over the decades, Tuscans added on, one room at a time, giving each a distinct roof. Modern Tuscan home designs often incorporate multi-level roofs.
Authentic Tuscan windows are relatively narrow, sometimes arched, and unframed or bordered by heavy wooden shutters with cast-iron hardware. Courtyards are almost a requirement and are typically very private, with high walls and arched doorways. Window boxes and copper gutters offer classic Tuscan appeal.
An Abundance of Masonry
Tuscan masonry consists mainly of stone, stucco and terracotta brick. Real Tuscan walls can be 3 feet thick, and while you’ll have to follow building codes for house walls in the United States, you can choose stone or stucco exterior and interior cladding for a comparable effect. Tuscan floors vary from Italian marble in well-to-do city homes, to rustic terracotta tile in country dwellings. The emphasis is on durability – a Tuscan floor should last a good hundred years, or longer.
Soft reddish limestone, rosso ammonitico, gives quaint Tuscan villages their rosy, sun-swept glow. Look for similar coloring in natural stone, cultured stone or painted stucco.
Don’t insist on perfectly horizontal stone courses. Masons in Tuscany randomly combine large and small stones in wall construction.
Large kitchens, complete with stone fireplaces, are in nearly every traditional Tuscan home. This is where family and friends gather to celebrate good food, good wine and good conversation. Cast iron abounds in pot hangers, hinges, knobs, dinner bells, candelabras and shelving, and frequently incorporates a fleur-de-lis symbol. Tuscan homes can have impressive ceiling architecture, including tiled barrel ceilings, huge timbers, or both, interspersed with stucco accents. Even in rural Tuscany, you can find murals painted on ceilings, reminiscent of the High Renaissance ceiling art found in larger Italian cities.
Hand-troweled plaster walls, painted with colors found in nature, add a Tuscan touch to a home’s interior. Deep blues, muted browns, greens and warm earth tones paired with wood trim offer rustic Italian charm. Authentic Tuscan furniture is solid wood, heavy and designed to serve several generations.