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The White Pumpkin

Discovering Beauty in the Unexplored

In Italy, you often find abandoned steel concrete skeletons.  These unfinished building projects always start with big plans and grand visions, but often without a budget to match the dreams. These projects are left, abandoned in the landscape. 

Hans Jaeger and his wife Bernadette from Munich fell in love with the less-traveled Lazio coastline, near the Gulfs of Gaeta and Naples in southern Italy. They found a concrete skeleton a top of a hill.  They bought the unfinished house — a skeleton, lovingly referred to as the white pumpkinNow that they bought this skeleton, the real challenge began, finding an architect who would take on the challenge to make it into a stunning abode. 

Just like the fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a beautiful carriage for Cinderella, they were in search of their own fairy godmother/father. Many said “no, impossible” until they met acclaimed architect Cherubino Gambardella. He transformed the concrete skeleton, lost at the top of a hill,  into an Award-Winning Home.

Hans Jaeger shares his story of the “white pumpkin”

Choosing a Home in Uncharted Italy: Six years ago, the Gulf of Gaeta captivated us with its unspoiled charm. This less-touristy, authentically Italian region, adorned with hills and olive tree fields, became our haven. The cemento armato we stumbled upon, a concrete structure exposed to wind and light, captured our hearts. Its strategic perch offered breathtaking views of Gaeta's hills and coastline, Mount Vesuvius, and islands like Ischia—an unparalleled panorama that, for me, defines the beauty of Italy.

Architectural Challenges and Triumphs: Dealing with the existing cemento armato presented a challenge for architects, but Cherubino Gambardella accepted the task. Renowned for his work in Capri, Gambardella initially hesitated but eventually turned the constraint into an opportunity. Using Italian ceramic on the walls, he transformed the house into a masterpiece showcased at the Venice Biennale.

Navigating Permits and Creativity: Securing permits in Italy proved quicker and less bureaucratic than in Germany. Within three months, the necessary approvals were granted. This efficiency allowed for a more imaginative and elegant construction. Jaeger emphasizes the symbiosis of rules and creative freedom that contributed to the unique charm of the house.

The Spirit of Modernity: Seeking modernity and functionality, Jaeger aimed for simplicity and clarity in the architecture. The house is an architectural masterpiece, a testament to luxury defined by the quality of architecture and construction.


More skeletons 

Throughout the years, Hans and Bernadetta have taken on a few more skeletons, left abandoned on the hilltop on the Gulf of Gaeta. Together with Cherubino Gambardella and his wife Simona Ottieri, they transformed these former ruins into holiday homes in the style of Mediterranean classicism. Plinius is very fortunate to have a number of their homes in their collection: Plinius No. 064 and 065. This gives the curious traveler the opportunity to stay at a Gambardella architectural masterpiece. A place to relax, recharge, and get inspired! 

In Jaeger's eyes, luxury transcends opulence; it embodies the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating these exceptional homes.

Cherubino Gambardella, 

Celebrated as one of Italy's most influential contemporary architects, Gambardella is a visionary who turns dreams into reality with the stroke of his design pen. Renowned for his innovative work, Gambardella breathes life into structures, weaving a tale of elegance and functionality. Hailing from Naples, Italy, he's not just an architect; he's a storyteller, each creation narrating a unique story of form and purpose. Listen to the master himself. 

Whether transforming rough cemento armato into a masterpiece or crafting contemporary hideaways in Capri, Gambardella's signature style marries tradition with a touch of the avant-garde. His architectural brushstrokes, often seen at the prestigious Venice Biennale, showcase a deep understanding of materials, light, and color. Cherubino Gambardella doesn't just build structures; he crafts experiences, leaving an indelible mark on the architectural landscape.

The accolades speak volumes, with the house receiving the prestigious Cersaie Bologna Award for the "Best Residential House" in 2012. Regularly featured in acclaimed architectural reviews like Domus, Lettera 21, and Mark, it stands as a testament to Gambardella's mastery.

La Grande Bellezza

Cherubino Gambardella is also the inspiration for the character Jep Gambardella in Paolo Sorrentino‘s film La Grande Bellezza. Which happens to be one of our favorite Italian Movies. This Oscar-winning movie starts with the 65th birthday of Jep Gambardella. The scene unfolds like a music video with Campari and dancing Romans. After this scene, Jep experiences an existential crisis and embarks on a journey to find meaning in his life. All the while, Sorrentino delivers us the ultimate love letter to Rome. See the Movie trailer here. 

Mila Groen