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Video:Victorian Architecture: Is Your House an Italian?

with Jackie Craven

With a style borrowed from villas in Italy, the Victorian architectural style known as Italianate has very distinct features. Learn what to observe when looking at an Italian-style home.See Transcript

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Transcript:Victorian Architecture: Is Your House an Italian?

Hi, I'm Jackie Craven, Guide to architecture at About.com with today's featured house style: Italian.

It is getting chilly here in Schenectady, New York. I do not have to look at a map to know I am a long way from Italy. And yet, when I stroll through this historic neighborhood, I see houses with just a hint of the old country.

Identifying Italian House Styles

This townhouse is a Victorian style known as Italianate. The builder borrowed details from villas found in Italy. What is so Italian about it?

Italian-Style Roofs

Well, first, the roof. It snows a lot here in New York, so you would think all the houses would have steep roofs. But on this house, the roof is – flat! That tiny pointed gable is just for show.

And next, look at those eaves. They jut out from the roof, creating a wide overhang. Beneath the eaves are rows of brackets evenly spaced between enormous long corbels.

Italian House Features

Architects have long been inspired by the architecture of Italy. Does your house have Italian features? Here is what to look for.

The corbels look a bit like shelf brackets, supporting the roof. The windows are tall and narrow. Here, the windows jut out in a curving bay. Just above each window is a decorative cap, arched like an eyebrow.

Americans have had a long love affair with Italian architecture. From the mid- to late-1800s, houses like this one were all the rage. Some builders topped their Italianate houses with square cupolas. Some created miniature palaces like those from the Italian Renaissance. Italianate architecture was the fashionable style for decades.

Does your house speak Italian? Check your roof, and look for those wonderful decorative brackets.

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