Walking along the small alleyways of Polignano a Mare in my beloved Puglia, a good aroma of home cooked food filled my nose. The salty air of the Mediterranean mixed with the food aroma coming from people’s houses permeated the air and created an aura of antiquity, that midday feeling when works stops to give way to daily meal with family and nothing else matters.
I was visiting my country at that time and I was walking the streets of Polignano with all my childhood friends who are ready to pick up our friendship where we left off, as if no years have passed by and no oceans divide us.
I pushed open the large green metal patina door of the house where the food aroma was coming out and a beautiful courtyard revealed in front of my eyes. Tall and short plants concealed colorful seating areas, cherubs in the fountains looked happy to play with the water, flowers everywhere, distressed walls, consumed floor and clean laundry were in all in one space open to the sky.
On the second floor, the mama was leaning on the balcony, visibly curious to see what a group of strangers were doing in her courtyard. To relieve her inconvenience of having strangers in her court, I soon asked her what she was cooking and why it smelled so good. She replied that the aroma I thought was so fantastic was nothing more than simple pasta and beans with pork bones. She invited all 10 of us to eat with her family and after a few minutes of reluctance, we were delighted to accept the invitation. The lunch lasted a good 3 hours, during which time she took out her best home-made wines and the best food preserved for the winter. It was a feast with people with had not known before that moment and became our best friend.
A courtyard is not a backyard, nor a front porch, it is a private open spaces surrounded by walls used in residential architecture for as long as people have lived in constructed dwellings. In Roman villas the Peristilio was a courtyard used to give more light and aeration to the dwelling, often enclosing a swimming pool, or fountains to give out a pleasant atmosphere with games of water. In the Middle Eastern countries and as far as 3000 B.C., courtyards have been used for many purposes including cooking, sleeping, working, playing, gardening, and even places to keep animals.
In the Renaissance Italy the courts with portico and colonnades returned in all the classic elements, even monasteries and public buildings adopted the style. In Italy there are beautiful examples of public buildings with a court: Brunelleschi’s Palazzo Busini-Bardi (1430), Palazzo Strozzi and Palazzo Pitti (late 1500) in Florence, Palazzo Venezia (1470) and Palazzo Farnese in Rome or Palazzo Ducale (1470) in Urbino.
Courtship often took place in the courtyard of private homes under the watchful eye of the family, but mostly courtyards filled the universal desires of human beings to have air, light, privacy, security and tranquility.
If I will ever build my house, I will have a spectacle of courtyard and reproduce that moment in Polignano with all the friends who will want to court my food. Ciao,
Copyright © 2014 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
This is my 24th years in design business and I am not showing signs of wanting to quit. I will be evolving in different directions, while still helping people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors, exteriors and improving restaurants or cafes. Check out my books on