How Italy Influenced Some Of The World’s Most Beautiful Architecture

Image Courtesy of Roderick Eime

Italy is well known for being home to some of the world’s most stunning structures and most innovative architects. The country has offered a diverse range of styles throughout history; there is the majestic Colosseum and viaducts of ancient Rome, the Romanesque movement which gave life to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, the Renaissance-era domes and cathedrals and the impressive Neoclassical buildings, inspired by Italy’s rich past. It’s no surprise then, that Italian influence has been felt in architectural designs across the world.

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Italianate Architecture – Creating Something New

One of the most impressive and attractive examples of how Italy inspired architecture overseas is Italianate architecture – a distinctive style incredible popular in the UK and USA in the 19th century. This unique style took influence from the styles and structures of 16th century Italian Renaissance architecture, which itself had inspired Neoclassicism and Palladianism, and blended their characteristics with picturesque aesthetics more commonly associated with each country’s local architecture.

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A Period of Elegance

While the first example of the Italianate style was John Nash’s relatively modest Cronkhill, a small country house built in 1802, the most impressive structures didn’t come until the style was further developed by architect Sir Charles Barry in the 1830s. Barry drew heavily on the designs of the original Renaissance villas of Rome, Lazio and Venetto, and his most striking piece of Italianate architecture was the sprawling and opulent Cliveden, which was said to have ‘confident allusions to the wealth of Italian merchant princes’. 

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A Style Fit for Royalty

The style became so popular, in fact, that it has been claimed that a third of all early Victorian country houses in England utilised Italianate styles, with typical features including a prominently bracketed cornice, towers based on Italian campanili and belvederi, and adjoining arched windows. In fact, Italianate architecture was even used to build a home to royalty – Osborne House, located on the Isle of Wight, was built as a summer home and rural retreat for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and boasts many of the most popular Italianate features. It didn’t stop there either, as Italianate architecture also became popular in USA and Australia with structures such as Alexander Jackson Davis’ Blandwood and Melbourne’s Government House. In Italianate architecture, Italy’s rich history and passion for luxury, style and beauty was experienced all over the world.