• Friday, June 23, 2017

Best Italian Villas

Galavante Confidential – Top Italian Villas
July 2, 2014
By , Associate Editor

Some things just belong together. Hot dogs and baseball games. Goat cheese and Provençal rosé. Summertime and Italian villas. Wait – is this last one not already on your list of go-to pairings? It should be. The Italian countryside never looks as good as it does from the terrace of your own villa from the months of July to September. Throw in a glass of Brunello and you’ve got a winning trio.

But not just any old villa will do; you take your rolling hills with a side of luxury (and maybe a two-to-one staff ratio), thank you very much. To that end, we’ve put together a few tried-and-true, Galavante-approved picks. Like Borgo Finocchieto, which is not just a villa but a small village. Then there’s La Foce, a restored 15th century estate on a hilltop overlooking Unesco World Heritage site Val d’Orcia. Or, for the very stylish among us, try Castiglion del Bosco, Massimo Ferragamo’s pet project that took four years and millions in restoration to complete. After all, when it comes to complementary concepts, fashion meets travel is a pretty dynamic duo.

Borgo Finocchieto

Why we love it: The resort is not just a villa; it’s a village. D.C. powerhouse John Phillips took an abandoned Italian gem and turned it into this compound, one of Italy’s most simultaneously lavish and understated destinations. To round off the eats of Chef Luigi Ricci, once apprentice to Paul Bocuse, the service staff is among the best in Italy. Want to drive off to Montalcino in a motorcade of a half-dozen Ferraris? No sweat: It’s already approaching the driveway.

Location: Buonconvento, Tuscany

The highlights:

  • Soaking in your pool while soaking in the view. The rolling, tree-dotted hills make for one of the most beautiful parts of Tuscany, hands down.
  • Arriving home from a long, tiring day of wine tasting to your fully stocked bar – on the house, as always.
  • Enjoying a dinner out in the countryside. Not only is the landscape as picturesque as ever when you’re smack-dab in the middle of it, but mealtime brings a custom-made menu. From a homey plate of red sauce to whatever truffles are in season – shaved fresh ­– your wish is your personal chef’s command.
  • Resting your head where Bill Clinton, the Obamas and the Kennedys all decamped for the summer.

Le Ville at Borgo Egnazia

Why we love it: Even for Italians, Savelletri di Fasano is the kind of place that boasts a VIP-only cachet. And in the heart of thousand-year-old olive groves, the Byzantine beauties of the Borgo Egnazia are so decadent that JT and JB flew here to tie the knot. But the striking villas are also known for the world-class cuisine available within. The seafood has earned such a national reputation that Romans will drive in and camp out here just for dinner.

Location: Savalletri di Fasano, Puglia, Italy

The highlights:

  • Getting up-close and personal with some of the most striking hotel architecture in Italy.
  • Wining and dining on the room service par excellence, including the burrata with bottled oil from the hotel’s thousand-year-old olive trees. “Life-changing” is an understatement.
  • Chilling by any of the three outdoor pools. Whitewashed and dazzling in the afternoon sun, they evoke the seduction of Miami, but they’re cooler than Miami could ever aspire to be.
  • Living the villa life. Rentals are pricey, but they get you a breathtaking, calming and welcoming home whose stone and wood appointments look like an Architectural Digest cover story. There’s nothing like playing cards at your spacious dining room table or shooting some pool in your ultra-luxe game room.

Palazzo Margherita

Why we love it: It’s plain to see why this is the pride and joy of owner Francis Ford Coppola, no stranger to gorgeous hotels. Everyone throws around the phrase “artisanal farmers” these days, but you can actually watch cheese being made among the equally picture-perfect art and Renaissance architecture (with a refresh from one Jacques Grange). Basilicata is the most farm-to-table region, and the Palazzo Margherita singlehandedly puts it on the map.

Location: Bernalda Matera, Basilicata, Italy

The Highlights:

  • Throwing open the doors of your room to a sunlit courtyard, yours to enjoy.
  • Discovering secret pathways in the hotel’s vast and intricate private garden.
  • Gathering in the salon during the evenings. An opulent living room by day, the Visconti-inspired space becomes a screening room by night for Coppola’s Italian faves.
  • Sipping an espresso as you people-watch at the Cinecittà Bar overlooking the piazza.

Grand Hotel Timeo

Why we love it: The Timeo is the Belmond’s most beautiful hote l— and since the Belmonds are the world’s most beautiful hotels, that’s saying quite a bit. With a Greek ampitheater next door and Mt. Etna before your eyes, seeing why the view is superlative is as easy as opening your eyes.

Location: Sicily

The highlights:

  • Sipping a martini on your terrace with your aperitivo olives, chips and nuts as the sun sets.
  • Gazing at the snowcaps of Mt. Etna in the distance from the terrace of a corner suite.
  • Emerging at your Teatro Greco opera from the VIP-only passageway.
  • Taking the Da Sant’Andrea, owned by sister hotel Villa Sant’Andrea, out for a ride on the Ionian Sea.

Hotel Caruso

Why we love it: Two words: infinity pool.

Location: Ravello

The highlights:

  • Gorging yourself on carbs. This restaurant’s meals are heavy on the wheat, and they’re some of the best you’ll eat on the Amalfi Coast.
  • Wandering the cobblestone streets beside the hotel
  • Baking breads and cooking pasta under the tutelage of Mamma Agata, with tangerines, pumpkins and olives from her garden.
  • Sitting stationary by the pool for hours on end and wondering if you’re in some kind of mirage.

Castiglion del Bosco

Why we love it: It’s plush, magnificent Tuscany inside ­– huge hotel rooms with glorious décor – and out, in prime wine country. No wonder Massimo Ferragamo, son of Salvatore, bought it in 2003.

Location: Montalcino, Italy

The highlights:

  • Horseback riding through the Italian countryside.
  • Lounging in rooms so comfy they actually vie with the gorgeous landscape for your attention.
  • Hitting the wine tastings. You are, after all, in the land of Brunello.
  • Making the quick drive over to Leccio to gorge yourself on fresh ricotta ravioli in sage-butter sauce.