A Commoner on the Piano Nobile

Casa Mia Foyer | ©Tom Palladio ImagesI live on the first floor (one above the ground floor) of a palazzo (palace) that was built in 1925 — later expanded then converted to a palazzo in condominio (apartment building) — and overlooks Campo Marzo, Vicenza’s main park that lies just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Centro Storico (Old Town Center).

My floor — only two apartments — is where the original owners lived, and the floor was referred to then as the piano nobile (noble floor).

Way back at the very start of the Renaissance period — the 14th century — the piano nobile began to appear and referred to the principle floor of a palace or large house owned by nobility. Today, the term is little used, unless one really does live in an old palace; but, my building, designed in stile Liberty (Liberty style) — a late 19th-early 20th century interpretation of the classic Renaissance look — did, for a while, exist as the noble floor, as the original owners were part of Vicenza’s upper crust.

Up the Down Staircases-4 | ©Tom Palladio ImagesWith some ceilings nearly touching the sky, the owners were able to use the extra height to add a soppalco (loft) with additional living space just under the original wooden beams. Up there is where the master bedroom, bath, walk-in closet and landing are located.

The park views, ample space, classic looks with modern upgrades and a large terrace overlooking the building’s interior courtyard, what’s not to like about it?

Decorative pavimento alla Veneziano | ©Tom Paladio ImagesTo be honest, I really fell in love with the apartment because of its colorful and decorative pavimento alla Veneziano (terrazzo floors). After just one look at that sparkling mosaic “carpet,” I agreed to rent my piece of the piano nobile — and history — on the spot.

From the moment I clear the main entry door into the palazzo, I take six flights of stairs (four outside my flat, two inside) and a total of 52 steps upward to finally get to the master bedroom on the second floor of my two-story abode.

More times than not, I take the stairs, not the lift, up to the piano nobile. After all, I’m just a commoner.

You wanna come on-a my house and have a look around? Terrific.

Hit it, Rosemary!

Written by

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along the travertine and cobblestone that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches via TravelingBoy.com and Anthology Magazine Ireland.


  1. Actually I still stay with my parent. My room doesn’t big enough but I’ll decorate it next year. I do love the mosaic carpet. What a lovely apartment, I want my (fresh) room look like yours =)


    1. Emily — It is indeed a nice pad and Vicenza’s a nice, small town for me to hang my Borsalino. Gourmet cook? That’s high praise, but I’m not that good. It’s probably the photography fooling you into believing that. I have to cook only because I have to eat, otherwise….


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