“Reno Italiano,” the new home renovation show on HGTV, just aired its pilot episode and I am hooked!
Reno Italiano stars Arlene Gibbs, an American interior designer who has lived in Rome for more than a decade. I’ve long admired Arlene’s interior design style, which she chronicles on her website Arlene Gibbs Décor. Now, she has a chance to show off her very tasteful design chops and her incredibly telegenic personality for a wider audience.
Here’s the promo video for the show:
The pilot episode of Reno Italiano has Arlene renovating a home in Arpino, Lazio, for Tracy and Matt, an American couple who are embarking on their first home renovation project. We get to see the bones of the house — old stone masonry, original wooden beams — and incredible views over the rooftops of the gorgeous hill town between Rome and Naples where Tracy and Matt have chosen to live.
The show is also shot beautifully, with sweeping aerial panoramas over Arpino and the surrounding landscape.
One thing I like about Reno Italiano is that Arlene knows what she’s talking about and talks frankly with the couple. “No, you can’t put the kitchen in the basement — that’s where the animals used to live. And besides, you would have to redo all the plumbing.” (I am paraphrasing.)
The couple is also quite amenable to Arlene taking the reins, even when the renovation project hits a few rough patches. There’s no fake drama, artificial pushback, or drummed-up conflict like you see in so many other home renovation shows. Arlene and the couple are just regular people working with what they’ve got to accomplish a goal. It’s refreshing.
You may be aware that HGTV has another home renovation show set in Italy. My Big Italian Adventure shows celebrity Lorraine Bracco renovating a one-euro home in the Sicilian town of Sambuca. I loved the concept of that show. But personally, I found it fell flat. There was too much focus on the celebrity, too much hamming it up for the camera. I couldn’t get through the whole season.
Reno Italiano is just a pilot at this point — just one show that runs for a half-hour. But it could easily be expanded into longer episodes and multiple seasons. I want to see more of the workers breaking down walls, laying down tiles, and repairing the roof. I want to see Arlene shopping for all of the modern fixtures and chatting with the vendors. This show could go far!
The pilot episode of “Reno Italiano” is available on HGTV. I used the Philo app to watch it.