Asmundo di Gisira | Studio GUM

Catania / Italy / 2017

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Asmundo of Gisira is Located within an eighteenth century palace place in one of the four cantons of Mazzini Square, the magnificent four-sided with porches just steps from the Cathedral of the city of Catania.

The residence is spread over an area of about four hundred square meters, distributed around a small central courtyard of the palace. The balconies and the terrace overlook the three roads that border the factory and on the square.

The project involved the upgrading and transformation of what was once a noble residence in a particular accommodation house, its concept inspired by the myths and legends of the city of Catania is described through a mix of architecture, design and memory that immerses the viewer in an authentic experience.

The conservative design approach was aimed primarily at restoring the original distribution, adapting the house to new features and requirements necessary for a receptive structure.

So it proceeded in the restoration of all that was still in existence, and that was in poor conditions of degradation. The frames of the windows, decorated wood, stucco ceilings and frescoed ceilings. Not having found any trace of the original floors in addition to the fact of having to face some structural aspects of the excessive loads on the floors, we chose to use a wood flooring; specifically a parquet with oak strips 7 x 15 mounted in a herringbone pattern. The material was supplied and installed by Kerakoll Design "endless line" choosing a matte black finish. The flooring has been fitted over the entire surface except for the central courtyard where brick remains of concrete decorated from the early '900 have been reused with a new design, after being found in the mezzanine of the building.

The same bricks have been used as wall coverings of some of the baths of the rooms.

Billonia is the myth that served as an inspiration to all public areas of the mansion, in which the designers wanted to reproduce an atmosphere of ancient gardens, atmosphere related precisely to the character of the beautiful young Billonia, when in the late nineteenth century she was between the Bellini park and the Cathedral handing out flowers and good mood. Entering the main access a small room welcomes visitors, to welcome the visitor there is a painting on canvas by Sergio Fiorentino who plays the appearance of the young. From the entrance, through a large gate, it opens the reception area, where a low volume compared to the ceiling, is the hallway at the entrance to one of the rooms; the volume, entirely covered in antiqued mirrors is the fountain of the villa from which peeps a flamingo tall more than four meters, sculpture by Domenico Pellegrino from Palermo.

The vintage desk and the library welcome guests at an informal reception that introduces on the right towards the large hall and on the left towards the inner courtyard.

The living room, used as a breakfast room comes with original stucco ceiling, the walls are covered with a wallpaper designed by the Swiss artist Daniel Egnéus, who was inspired by the legend and places.

The living room leads into the bar area and both overlook the large terrace prospicente of Piazza Mazzini.

The Bar room, interpreted by the artist Rossana Palermo Taormina, tells the memory of the place represented by a man sitting with a map and linked together by a woven wire, floating on a green pictorial background. From the Bar room you can access the kitchen through a back door also coated of paper.

The reception leads to the central courtyard where a large skylight closes what was initially an open space while still providing a significant amount of light and a sheltered connection with the rooms. The floor has been designed using the original cement tiles of the palace; all the stone pieces have been restored and the typical  ash color of exterior elevations cover the walls.

The six en-suite bedrooms available to the structure are distributed around the court.

Here, form and meaning are the ancient legends of Proserpine, the Uzeta, Colapesce, Acis and Galatea and Eliodoro in last Agata, patron saint of the city of Catania.

1_Proserpina room:

Proserpina is the Roman version of the Greek goddess Persephone or Kore (maiden). The name may derive from the Latin word proserpere ( "out") to signify the grain growth. She protected the work in the fields, she did ripen fruits and biondeggiare corn, she covered the land of flowers and herbs.

Proserpina is one of the largest guestrooms and is the only one that overlooks the terrace.

It is accessed through a hallway where a wardrobe is placed.

Upon entering the room, a large structure made of iron and tissue represents a greenhouse circumscribing the space devoted to sleep. The element, that invades longitudinally space, is the protagonist of the scene leaving isolated the few furnishings that complement the room; all under the decorations of the early '900 in the ceiling.

The tiled wall of the bathroom was built by hand by the potter Alessandro Iudici on a draw inspired to a constellation related to the fertility of the fields.

2_Sant'Agata room:

Agata, character beloved and revered by the citizens, is the name of the patron saint of Catania, chiefly revered by Catania; his martyrdom and the consequent his death took place in Catania on February 5, 251 d.C .; here she was born fifteen years ago, as attested an official document by Pope Urban II. The fury on her body and her death have produced great stir in the city and beyond. Agatha is the name of the "Santuzza", the Holy par excellence of Catania. Her invocation causes miraculous events, invoked in times of greatest danger by the devotees and the faithful.

The room is accessed through the court through a hallway.

Entering through the front door you are, like a vision, before an evocative scene, where the canopy bed with the veil of the Holy, is suspended between the red carpet to the floor and ceiling luminaire. The two elements of four per two meters are closed and connected by white curtains where a crowd of devotees chanting "viva Sant'Agata." A counterpoint to the scene, the couple of Rima chair from the '50 and a sideboard from the 60s by Osvaldo Borsani. Behind it all, a white curtain, hiding the TV.

The cabinet is housed in a hollow, where has been realized a sliding wood structure in which the door is a mirror.

A gold explosion is the bathroom, which symbolizes the treasure of the Holy, where to separate the dressing  room from the bathroom we find an iron door with perforated design, inspired to the gates that were built after the abduction of the relics.

Finally, to frame the two sinks, a composition of cement tiles decorated enclose the mirror illuminated by two suspensions flos.

3_Uzeta room:

This room is dedicated to Uzeta, valiant knight who defeated the ursini, Saracens giants who lend the name to the nearby castle. The headboard of the bed, inspired by the armor is obtained by overlapping leather pieces studded in brass. The foot by Gaetano Pesce and ceramic alligator tell the duel and the defeat of the giants.

The setting is very austere as the large glass railing that separates the dressing room from the bathroom.

4_Colapesce room:

Inspired by the Catanese version of Colapesce legend, the next room focuses on a scene: a large box covered entirely in printed fabric represents the abyss where the young man used to dive to discover treasures and for the will of the sovereign, Colapesce gave the tangible proof that beneath the waters of the sea there was the fire that feeds the volcano Etna, sacrificing his life. He dived into the sea with a piece of wood that resurfaced burned.

Two red velvet drapes make a curtain to the scene. All blue the bathroom, with the use of cement tiles retrieved from the rooms of the palace. The pistil lamp colored in red emerges as a sea anemone.

5_Aci and Galatea Room:

According to mythology, Acireale (small fraction of the city of Catania) takes its name from a swain called Aci, son of the god Pan, protector of the mountains and woods. Legend has it the great love that united Aci to Galatea, beautiful sea nymph. But the love between the two youngs turned on the jealousy of the monstrous giant Polyphemus who after rejection of Galatea threw on Aci's body a giant boulder that crushed it. At the sight of his love, Galatea fell on him crying all the tears in her body. The endless crying awakened the compassion of the gods who wanted to alleviate her torment transforming Aci into a beautiful river that descends from Etna and flows into the beach where the two lovers used to meet.

The room presents at the center the beds couple who represent the two lovers. Between them, a fabric weave, under the eye of the giant Polyphemus represented by the large mirror on the ceiling. Introducing in the dressing room a sliding door with printed lily disappearing under the fifth facet mirrors symbolizing the river Aci. The bathroom walls, as well as the one of the sink are coated by decorated cement tiles mounted in plaiting.

Element of surprise in this room is a small gimmick designed and mounted on the wall, using a pre-existing hole punching. The object, gives to the user the sight and hearing of external, consisting in a periscope to observe and a horn to hear external life fragments.

6_Eliodoro room:

An ancient legend tells the origin of the elephant ofCatania, which since 1239 is the official symbol of the city. This legend tells that when Catania was first inhabited, all fierce and dangerous animals were put to flight by an elephant, to which the people of Catania, in a sign of gratitude, erected a statue, called with the popular name of Liotru . The Liotru owes its name to the mispronunciation of the name Heliodorus. This character is related to the elephant because a legend that tells that he was the sculptor who made it and that he even used to ride this elephant to move from Catania to Constantinople. Also according to legend,  the Bishop Leone would bring the statue outside the walls to make her forget, but the people would also bestowed the divine honors.

The room is the smallest of the structure. Here, to act as head of the bed is the same wall, covered with tiles made by Alexander Iudici that reproduces the texture of elephant skin.

Even the bedsides design is inspired to the animal's tusks.

From the white ceiling decorated with stucco, it comes down the luminaire suspension, a vintage object, a chrome sphere studded with convex lenses that filter sends it back into light on all the walls. A magical eye that symbolizes the presence of the magician Heliodorus.

To characterize the dressing room, reinforcing the concept of magic and control, it is an installation of retractable mirrors on the wall of the basin, more than four meters high. Finally, the chair positioned inside the bathroom symbolizing the obelisk but at the same time the throne of Eliodoro.


Project Architect: Valentina Giampiccolo, Giuseppe Minaldi

Architecture Project Team: Marco Scebba, Andrea Nunzio Zago, Consuelo Rosso 

Artists team: Daniel Egneus (Billonia wallpaper artwork), Rossana Taormina (Bar wallpaper artwork), Sergio Fiorentino (Billonia Portrait), Domenico Pellegrino (Billonia Flamingo) Alessandro Iudici (Proserpina’s bathroom ceramics, Eliodoro’s headboard ceramic tiles, Billonia ceramic heads) 

Photographer: Filippo Bamberghi
Web site:

Lighting Consultant (company name): Los Project
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    Asmundo of Gisira is Located within an eighteenth century palace place in one of the four cantons of Mazzini Square, the magnificent four-sided with porches just steps from the Cathedral of the city of Catania. The residence is spread over an area of about four hundred square meters, distributed around a small central courtyard of the palace. The balconies and the terrace overlook the three roads that border the factory and on the square. The project involved the upgrading and transformation...

    Project details
    • Year 2017
    • Work finished in 2017
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Hotel/Resorts / Tourist Facilities / Interior Design / Building Recovery and Renewal
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