INTERIOR DESIGN MAGAZINE
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By Jen DeRose
At the Italian Ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., doors in the walnut-paneled dining room open to reveal a kitchen with stainless steel islands and a porcelain-tiled floor
Garner a dinner invitation to the home of Giovanni Castellaneta, the Italian ambassador to the U.S., and you’ve practically left Washington, D.C., for Italian soil. On one wall hangs a 15-century nativity scene attributed to the school of Sandro Botticelli. On another are four Venetian 18th-century gilded mirrors. And then there are the 19th-century Murano glass chandeliers and sconces. A similar showcase of nationalism, the Arclinea kitchen system, is even named Italia. It was designed in 1988 by Antonio Citterio and consistently updated ever since.
The kitchen needed to handle frequent political functions, say a seated dinner for 80 honoring a visit from President Giorgio Napolitano. But the space also had to be comfortable for casual meals for family. To accomplish this, Arclinea interior designer Giampietro Monti divided the 750-sqare-foot room into professional and domestic sides, each with its own island.
At one end of the 21½-foot-long room, an island intended for family use is outfitted with a breakfast bar topped in black oak. Matching cabinetry conceals wine refrigerators and dry storage.
On the professional side, the 12-by-4½-foot island offers a 10-burner cooktop with a grill and a sink with a pot filler. The family island, about half as long, features a breakfast bar with two stools. Overhead—instead of an industrial-strength range hood—basil, rosemary, and other herbs grow on a suspended shelf with the help of LEDs.
Villa Firenze was built in 1927 as a private residence. On the professional side of the kitchen, a gas cooktop with 10 burners and a grill faces a microwave, a steam oven, a convection oven, and a coffee station, all from Scholtès.
Both sides of the kitchen temper the gleam of stainless steel with the subtlety of black oak. Appliances—stainless, from Scholtès—run along one sidewall. The other is devoted to sinks and enough counter space for chefs to line up warm entrées before they’re carried into the dining room.
Observing the action is a large-scale black-and-white print of Alberto Sordi in the film Un Americano a Roma. With a heaping plate of pasta in front of him, he seems to wish us all buon appetito.