Villa Fontanelle: Versace's chateau de Guermantes

I must admit that when the Sotheby's sales catalogue of the contents of Gianni Versace's Lake Como house arrived last week, I didn't tear it open. In fact, it took a good few days to get around to it and even then I approached it with reluctance.

Much to my surprise and delight, instead of being assaulted by brash clear colors and over-the-top gilt and gilt-mounted furniture suites, my eyes took in a restrained - although very high style - villa that was right up my alley (although maybe not so many nudes).

Built by Lord Charles Currie who was so enamoured by Italy that he took up Italian citizenship, the house is in the neoclassical style but as seen through the prism of an English mi'lord. Versace set out to furnish it sympathetically with Empire period and inspired pieces.

Two Views of the Salon

My interest was further piqued by the introduction - unsigned but presumably by Donatella - which notes that Gianni called it "a Proust house", one full of memories, sensations, and feelings, which of course made me think of Madeleine Castaing who even kept of photo of the author in her library . Who knows - perhaps she sold Versace some of his Napoleon III pieces?!

The Library

A Landing - a Rex Whistler-esque moment of whimsy

Amusing. Either that little boy is two feet tall or the mustachioed painter has giantism.

The Dining Room

Smashing. The dining table below is loosely based on a table in the bedroom of Caroline Murat, the Queen of Naples, in the Elysee Palace, and now in the Trianon (estimate: $8,900 - 14,800)

Another dining room....

Gianni's Bedroom

I think I like the wall-covering - what do you think?

A Guest Bedroom
The painting on the wall could inspire some home projects...

To die for. Truly an earthly paradise. Especially since George Clooney is probably nearby.