A Special Touch of Italy Is Now in the Local Area


(Thursday, May 15, 2008 3:00 PM EDT)

Itching to go to Italy but haven't been able to make the trip? Look no further than Bella Villa Furnishings & Accessories in Aldie to get your Italian fix.

When people visit the store, “I want them to feel like they just walked into my house, to feel the warmth and hospitality of Italy,” said Rosanna Smith, one of Bella Villa's owners and a proud Italian American.

Before moving to the Aldie property, Smith and her mother-in-law and business partner Nancy Calabrese were renting a small space in Leesburg.

But both wanted “more character and charm,” Smith said, and the property on Route 50 in Aldie seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

“It chose us,” Smith said. “It's a gift to be in a village with so much history.”

Although not all the home furnishings, decorations and accessories in Bella Villa are Italian, most of them have a subtle Italian influence.

A page from an 1880s Harper's Bazaar magazine with a story about Rome; floral arrangements in Italian pottery; and a local artist's work featuring a fresco-like look and texture are just a few examples of Italy's presence in the store.

The freshly brewed espresso Smith makes for customers also helps create a fun Italian atmosphere.

Officially open since November 15, the store is stocked with both antiques and newly manufactured goods in elegant and rustic styles.

Enjoying the combination of refined items with more rustic ones, Smith and Calabrese like to show how seemingly incongruous pieces can go together, and can be moved from room to room to create different effects.

A gable from a 19th-century house can be used as a wall hanging, but could also become a headboard, Smith said.

From mirrors and chandeliers to vintage feed sack pillows and burlap upholstered sofas, the merchandise at Bella Villa is unique, and the showrooms display how it all can work together.

Although they're not professional interior designers, Smith and Calabrese have had numerous customers tell them they've tried to recreate the looks they saw in Bella Villa.

“We have customers that emulate what we're doing,” Smith said. “We're happy to give them that gift. It's a gift to us!”

The customers are one of the main reasons the two women love owning Bella Villa. So far, customers have included people from Washington, D.C., and Old Town Alexandria; guests of nearby bed and breakfasts; and even interior designers.

With time, and with the flea market they plan on holding every second Saturday of the month, Smith and Calabrese hope to meet many more.

“I love to learn about what the customers are going to do with what they buy here,” Smith said. “You kind of become involved in their lives.”

For more information on Bella Villa, call (703) 327-5313.

A shot of the main floor of Bella Villa Furnishings & Accessories in Aldie.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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