An architect in Como. A painter in Sicily. A designer in Milan. These three Italian artists bring the same creativity and consideration to their craft as they do to every corner of their homes. Each one shares his space as an Airbnb Plus Home, so you too can live the artist’s life for a night or two.
Superhost + Airbnb Plus Home: Marco Vido
The ceiling is 13 feet high and the setting is steps from Como’s center, but it’s the big iron windows that, in large part, sold Marco Vido on this loft in an old factory formerly used for metal parts manufacturing. “They let in beautiful light,” says the Superhost, who worked as an architect for 30 years before becoming an artist. “The moment I bought this house is when I started painting.”
Vido renovated the space himself, leaving the layout open but adding four cube-shaped enclosed areas for the bathrooms and closet. To respect “the history of this place and the story of those who worked here,” he preserved the exposed-concrete ceiling slats and structure before adorning the walls with expressionist paintings — his own, of course. “I conceptually represent values that have to do with the abuse of power. I tell the story through flowers, painting them to represent the weakest people in our society,” explains the Superhost, who uses only his fingertips (no paintbrushes). Why flowers? “They’re the purest and most beautiful thing we have.”
“I have watched children explode with joy when they see this immense abandoned factory. It’s unique, and they feel free to do anything in the open space.”
— Marco Vido, Superhost
While his Airbnb Plus home is fully furnished and accessorized, it’s not exactly a finished product — and that’s deliberate. “I don’t like to keep things in the same position,” he says, so instead of books and objects getting permanent spots on shelves and in cabinets, they’re arranged on the floor. “All is on the ground, so there is nothing static; everything has movement as people come through. In this way, my guests participate in my art.” It’s not the only way: Vido also leaves wood blocks for kids to color and a notebook with crayons for the adults. “They might draw the house, or the city, or self-portraits,” he says. “I don’t ask guests to leave me words, but to make drawings for me. The book is all covered now. It’s fantastic.”
Location: Modica, Sicily
Superhost + Airbnb Plus Home: Luca Giannini
His painting style is contemporary, but when it came to buying a house in Modica (a city whose multilayered history dates back thousands of years, with Greek, Roman, Arab, and Spanish people all inhabiting the land at different times), artist Luca Giannini’s taste veered vintage. “I felt connected to the soul of this place, which had seen a lot of life,” he says of the 16th-century property. One feature that particularly enthralled him was the “amazing and wonderfully secluded garden” behind a stone wall. Lush with oleander and fig, orange, and pomegranate trees, “it reminds me of the vast gardens of medieval monasteries,” says the Superhost, a former environmental engineer.
The home came with some features that he turned into pretty great amenities — including an ancient stone basin he converted to a heated plunge pool and a former water cistern that’s now a wine cellar stocked with Sicilian favorites. But what really makes the home one-of-a-kind are Giannini’s paintings, hung throughout, plus custom-crafted headboards and other pieces. “I designed three sculpted washbasins, each in a different type of stone,” he says. There’s beige Modica limestone in the master bedroom, lava stone in another, and brown limestone in a suite upstairs. “My intention was to harmoniously combine the ancient features with a smooth, modern style,” he explains, “and so I chose a palette that reminds me of the earth in order to keep the atmosphere calm and relaxing.”
Superhost + Airbnb Plus Home: Giuseppe Amato
A former biologist, Giuseppe Amato’s home-buying approach was, ironically, pretty unscientific. He was walking along his favorite canal in Milan when he spotted a “For Sale” sign on a balcony and decided he had to have the place. “I thought, This is the best balcony of the entire canal! And I took it without even seeing the interior,” he says. “When I entered, I saw it was one beautiful room that was very big, about 320 square feet. I felt it was a very nice place to play Ping-Pong with my kids, but there was no bedroom, so I wondered, where do we sleep?” Fortunately, design solutions fall within this artist’s niche. “I create interiors and exteriors in an unconventional way, like they are sculptures. Companies ask me to invent the interiors or display windows of their flagship stores, and clients ask me to create unique houses that reflect their personality,” the Superhost says.
So for his Airbnb Plus home, he dreamed up a space-saving bed. “I looked for a way to make the bed go away when it wasn’t needed, and I decided to ‘let it fly.’ I created a counterbalance with the same weight so that anyone could raise the bed with very little effort or strength.” Amato designed his own Ping-Pong table, too — with an artsy twist, of course. “The surface is slate, so you can write on it with chalk. My kids do their homework on it, and guests write me a thank-you note or draw on it,” he says. To offset quirky features like these, the Airbnb Plus home needed a quiet palette: “It’s mostly neutrals — black, dark gray, a little white.” Even the wall art blends in. “I made the wood frames using a special oak from Croatia, and the brown squares are linen — the same material as the Ping-Pong table’s net.”
About the author: Betsy Goldberg is the Deputy Editor (Home) of Airbnb Magazine. Previously she was the Deputy Editor of Real Simple and HGTV Magazine, Editorial Content Director at Bed Bath & Beyond, and an editor at UsWeekly, Modern Bride, and New York Magazine. She is co-author of BusinessWeek’s Guide to the Best Business Schools, and her writing has also appeared in Glamour, Health, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Money.