Alfio Garozzo shoots for DonnaCarmela Lodge & Resort, Balla Calvagna design

Alfio Garozzo shoots for DonnaCarmela Lodge & Resort, Balla Calvagna design



Located on lower eastern slopes of Etna, with minimum living volumes and built entirely of wood, these natural lodges, surrounded by lush greenery, come to increase the supply of hospitality for a traditional farmhouse overlooking the sea.

The context in which the Natural Lodge lives, low houses surrounded by the lush greenery of a nursery specialized in the production of mediterranean plants, is the coastal low Ionic side of Etna, dominated by rural landscapes and hard-working remembrances.

Like new elements of a structure that develops in harmony with its environment, the living units are regular cuboids, small in size, and simply juxtaposed in contrast to the nature that surrounds them. Located on the edge of an ancient lava flow, they mark the boundary between the upward receptive activity and the downward floricultural labour. This difference in height defines a transition area that has been reconfigured by a forest of palm trees creating a new intermediate sinuous landscape which follows the natural morphology of the site.

Visual relationships between areas are thus amended, giving the lodges the role of connecting elements. The simple experience of staying allows guests to enter into resonance with the landscape: the inside is outside, and vice versa.

In every lodge the interiors are always intensely textured, with an explicit recall to the natural surroundings. Here that the ceiling is in raw clay with volcanic sand, leaves and hemp inserts, all materials that give a more tactile and perceptual dimension to the surface.

The bathroom, covered in Etna lava stone and clay-based resin, makes you see the central setting through a filter, sometimes of glass and leaves, sometimes of red pumice or expanded clay, in shapes of a texturized glass. These features, combined and inflected differently, create for each lodge a sensory recognizable identity, in some cases amplified by the exuberance of design that seems eager to bring inside the force and the randomness of outside nature.

Lodges are made of bearing laminated fir panels mounted cross-axial (XLAM), a dry construction technology that ensures high ecological quality in the way it enables water saving in construction, ease of disassembly and handy retrieval of materials for reuse during demolition.

The energy efficiency of the building envelope is ensured not only by the structure itself but also by wood fibre insulation and PVC window frames, all elements that stand for low carbon and power consumption in their life cycle, from production to disposal.


Balla Calcagna designer
DonnaCarmela Hotel
Alfio Garozzo Photography