It's a glamorous problem to have: What to do with the family villa in Italy? Richmond's Aracri family has owned a historic home in the northeastern Veneto region for 20 years. From the portico you can see the twinkling lights of Venice in one direction, and the snow-capped Alps in the other. Domenico Aracri, an Italian pop singer who came to the states in the '50s, purchased the villa as a retreat for his family and a tie to his homeland.
Recently, the family struggled over what to do with the high-maintenance villa, until daughter Victoria deRoche volunteered to lead a green modernization with the help of creative friends — like stylist Wendy Umanoff, Anthropologie display director Garnett Spigle-Greer and an Italian architect friend — and several trips back and forth to Italy. The senior Aracris, who have added solar panels to their Fan townhome, were quick to embrace the idea of an eco-friendly renovation.
The villa sits within a vineyard in the rolling hills of Italy's Prosecco-producing region. Its original cantina, or winery, has been sold off but is still producing wine from grapes on the property. "It's a wonderful part of the country, up and coming," says deRoche, citing the Veneto's many wine bars and vineyards.
Now is a good time for the area's native grape: U.S. sales of Prosecco have seen double-digit growth in the past several years due to wider distribution, and the L.A. Times recently dubbed the sparkling wine "bubbly of the moment." The Veneto is also known for its many villas designed by famed 16th -century architect Andrea Palladio — a draw for tourists willing to venture past the considerable charms of Venice, an hour south.