How to turn your backyard into an Italian villa

5 August, 2015

With summer tapering off and fall slowly arriving, the cooler night temperatures are a perfect time to spend with friends hosting barbecues or late-night dinner parties. You have nice outdoor dining sets and outdoor furniture sets, but how do you create the perfect ambiance around these patio essentials? If you've ever pictured yourself sipping wine and eating olives in an Italian villa as the sun goes down, then here are just a few decorating suggestions to lend your patio some Old World charm:

La dolce vita
Once the sun sets you'll need the perfect style of lighting to keep the festivities going. Outdoor string lights, especially yellow globe ones, can give any space an Italian courtyard feel. To create a canopy effect, string several lines in a zigzag overhead. Pair the lights with a patio bistro set and you'll feel like you're dining in Tuscany. You and your guests will be able to dine and celebrate al fresco into the wee hours thanks to these romantic lights.

Pergola
A pergola is a pair of poles with crossbeams over its top, and even though it won't shelter you from rain, its beauty makes up for what it lacks in utility. You can purchase these garden and walkway coverings at most home supply stores or you can make your own out of cedar wood. Whichever route you decide to take, these wooden structures are great to hang vines and other plants off of. A pergola will give your backyard a bit of shade and an Italian Renaissance look. 

Add a chair under the pergola to create a perfect and peaceful place to escape with a great book or a glass of wine. 

Flora
Besides vine-like plants, other flora can really add to the villa atmosphere. If you want plants that will complement your outdoor chaise lounge or other lounge seats, then consider planting a few Mediterranean plants and trees. Cypress trees, succulents, lavender and rosemary plants will give your patio and backyard a beautiful and sophisticated vibe. Add even more greenery near your tables by planting some ferns in clay pots and arranging them around your deck or near your pool.

Games
Villa settings are all about relaxing and taking in the joys of everyday life, but that doesn't mean lying around all day. If you want to provide some entertainment for your guests but also keep your Old World-style theme, consider buying a bocce ball set. The Italians modernized and popularized this ancient sport, and it's a fun and relaxing outdoor game that you and your partygoers will instantly fall for. 

If you're looking for another classic game – one that will work your brain instead of your throwing arm – then treat yourself and a guest to a game of chess or backgammon. These board games never go out of style and can be a wonderful way to while away the hours. 

Food
What Italian villa would be complete without food? Wine and cheese plates are a great way to go. Serve a selection of red and white wines or prosecco, a few light Italian beers and a charcuterie plate, and you and your guests will be dining in style at your "villa."