When Tony and Penny Caciolo decided to add A/V into their Coopersburg, PA, home, they didn’t just want to get into the action; they wanted to be transported to a different place.
One of Tony’s favorite places is Italy, which is where the couple spent their honeymoon and Tony frequents on business. So instead of spending more time on the other side of the world, he brought that little corner of his life into their home.
“We love Italy,” Tony says. “We traveled around Europe after we finished college, we went to Italy on our honeymoon, and the obvious: My name is Tony Caciolo!”
So, armed with a $150,000 budget and a stack of photos from his travels, he pulled together the design. “I’ve always liked to create rooms that make people feel like they have escaped real life and are somewhere else,” Tony, who is a custom homebuilder by day, says. “Not only do we want to be totally immersed in a movie, but we want to complete step away from real life for a few hours.”
It didn’t require a travel agent or airport security to make any of that happen. Tony recruited a few friends to assist with the installation, while bringing in a little outside help as well. Fellow AVS Forumites aided with equipment selection, and a carpenter helped pull together the storefronts.
The completed room makes visitors feel like they just stepped off a plane and onto a quaint Italian villa. To the left is a delicatessen, but don’t expect to slap together a sandwich here. All of the cheese and salami are fakes. On the right, there’s a bicycle shop, which pays homage to Tony’s youth as a bike racer and features actual Italian bicycle components. “The stone print carpeting, the authentic store fronts, the Gelati stand, the fiber-optic ceiling,” says Tony. “It truly feels like you have left PA and are sitting outside in Italy.”
There’s certainly plenty to look at—all the way down to the sewer pipe covers that adorn the electrical outlets. “The glass storefront windows provided a challenge, as they were going to cause too many sound reflections,” Tony says. The solution was to angle the glass slightly upward. “So when sound waves hit the glass, they bounce off and are absorbed by the ceiling.”
At the back of the room, there are antique doors, which were salvaged from old buildings in Europe and kept in their original state. Each of the 11 theater seats feature motorized reclining features, as well as actuators, to put some motion into Tony’s movie-watching. Other features include a starfield ceiling, which includes over 3,500 twinkling lights to add a bit of romance into the “overseas” experience.
You might be tempted to travel upstairs in this 3-level room, but don’t trip over the shipping crates. These aren’t throwaways that Tony has to schlep out to the dumpster; they cover two of the room’s four subwoofers. In fact, all of the room’s 11 speakers are hidden into the scenery.
This is truly one instance where the room might make you forget about what’s about to happen: Movie magic. However, once Tony fires up the system, there’s no denying that all eyes shift up front. “This room is powered by over 5,800 watts of clean amplification, driving almost $32,000 worth of speakers,” he says. Aside from all of the audio and video, there’s also an automation system for full command over lighting, window coverings and other components.
Tony uses one HomeLogic touchscreen to tackle various room tasks. One button can close patio curtains, dim sconces and storefront lights, and fire up the movie. Once it’s time for intermission or the end of a feature, another button turns lights to predetermined levels and powers down equipment.
Tony’s entertainment doesn’t end once he leaves his theme theater. In the basement—the one below the Italian Village portion—is the Bourbon Street Room. This is a separate, New Orleans-themed room, that is approximately 21 feet underground. It might be worth the trek, though, considering the picturesque area houses a 170-inch screen and a full bar.
There is also a 110-inch drop-down screen and a 1080p projector in Tony’s bedroom. Step outside and find another theater space by the pool. When swimmers come up for air, they are treated to a 20-foot screen, which is built into the side of the house.
When it comes to the number of theaters, Tony may be one of the richest men we know. He has the mini theater for the master bedroom, the Italian Village for his main movie experience, the Bourbon Street Room with plenty of party space—and, of course, the outdoor theater for those summer nights. Some may ask why Tony went for so many theater areas. Well, why not? “The house is 15,000+ square feet,” Tony says. “It is a long walk to the main theater!”
Quick Hits (Italian Village Theater):
Location: Coopersburg, PA
Year Completed: 2005
Room Size: 18 x 30 feet
Length of Project: 6 months
Total Cost: $150,000
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.