6 exciting Italian luxury resorts to visit in 2020
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Italian resorts aren’t like other resorts because there is no country quite like Italy. This is the diverse and multi-layered land that gave the world the concept of la dolce vita, and what its best hotels and resorts have in common is their strong sense of place mixed with easeful graciousness. Beyond that, however, luxury properties are as varied as the glorious Italian landscapes themselves. Here are six ravishing Italian resorts that opened or underwent major refurbishment in 2019 that you should put on your 2020 traveller’s radar, and pronto.
Back in the day, Lake Como was only fashionable for people of a certain age and even now, it’s more or less a synonym for sedate. That’s why the recent reentry of the Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, onto the scene made such a splash. Even though the refurbished lakeside Villa Roccabruna still rocks that leisurely 18th-century vibe at its core, this is clearly the epicentre of the new Lake Como cool. The Michelin-starred Il Pievano restaurant, enormous spa and swimming pool that “floats” in the lake add up to la dolce vita overdrive. The property is one of a botanical garden setting and offers up all manner of understated opulence in 52 suites, 21 guest rooms and two private villas.
Pricing: A Deluxe Room for two people sharing starts at 570 euro.
Extras: The Mandarin Oriental Lake Como is part of Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, so if booked through the programme, you’ll receive the following perks: daily breakfast for two, room upgrade at check-in when available, noon check-in when available, 4 p.m. checkout guaranteed and complimentary Wi-Fi. You’ll also get a $100 property credit to be used during your stay.
A couple of things you should know about the Belmond Villa Margherita in ravishing Ravello, on the Amalfi Coast. First, it’s comprised of just two suites and is basically the uber-private bolthole of the legendary Belmond Hotel Caruso. Second, by legendary that is to say, epic. We’re talking fabled sojourns by Garbo, Jackie Kennedy and more recently, Justin Bieber, who has bedded down in the Villa Margherita with Hailey Baldwin. Even before that, songstress Alicia Keys is said to have had a piano dropped in by helicopter so she could practice during her stay on the main hotel section of the property, which began its life eons ago as the Palazzo D’Afflitto, high above the Mediterranean. It went full on luxe in 1893 and if anything, the posh, secluded villa (in what used to be the Caruso’s gym and hair salon) is a throwback to that quieter time.
Pricing: An Exclusive Suite for two people starts at 4,623 euro.
The 29-square-mile Italian island of Ischia is neither as famous as nearby Capri nor as crowded, and therein lies its buckets of charm. And the top hideaway spot here is this recently made over 16th-century watchtower and grounds perched on a headland above the Bay of Naples. The saltwater swimming pool is a stunner, but there’s also a meandering staircase below it that so you can literally saunter into the cerulean sea. Hydration also comes from below: natural thermal waters bubble up to the spa’s own pool. As for guest rooms, some are oriented toward a natural pine forest but try to book a room in the La Torre section for those mesmerising views over the cove. Two restaurants — one poolside — and a bar add to the fun.
If you tire of Ischia, remember that nearby Naples is the marine gateway to the fantastic Aeolian Islands, where some classic resorts like Hotel Raya on Panarea beckon.
Pricing: A Double Park View room starts at 245 euro for two people sharing.
Masseria Torre Maizza, Puglia
While the luxe goings-on up in Lake Como have generated magazine-cover buzz, the hottest region to watch in Italy is way down south: Apulia, or in Italian, Puglia. In this sunbaked precinct at the lower end of Italy’s boot, it’s all about authentic places to stay that respect the local aesthetics. And Rocco Forte Hotel’s Masseria Torre Maizza, situated between Brindisi and Bari, fits the bill. The hotel centers on a totally renovated 16th-century masseria, or country house, set amid olive groves and gardens. The look is Greek island whitewashed chic, though the interiors of the guest rooms (of which there are only 40) are less spare. Whether you’re ensconced within the arch-ceilinged Bougainville bar, dining in high style at Carosello (in what used to be the property’s stables) or luxuriating with a glass of rosato poolside, this place spells pure dolce. There’s also golf and yes, the beach is close by and gorgeous.
To go all out book the Torre Suite on the top floor of the original masseria’s tower — the sea views are divine. Two suites at ground level come with private plunge pools. The resort reopens for the season on 2 April 2020.
Pricing: A Superior Room starts at 329 euro for two people sharing.
Extras: Masseria Torre Maizza is also part of the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Programme, meaning you’ll get daily breakfast for two, a room upgrade at check-in when available, noon check-in when available, 4 p.m. checkout guaranteed and complimentary Wi-Fi. You’ll also get a $100 property credit to be used during your stay.
If Sir Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Russie raised the chic hotel bar when it opened in the Eternal City nearly two decades ago, his new Hotel de Ville hoists it even higher — literally. That’s because this extravagantly kitted out 18-century palazzo sits atop the Spanish Steps, a new arrival and glamorous rival to the classically elegant Hotel Hassler a few metres away. Designers Olga Polizzi and Tommaso Ziffer were inspired by the tradition of the European Grand Tour for this hotel’s resolutely swanky 104 guest rooms and public spaces.
And how does a hotel in the heart of Rome qualify as a resort? Well, sumptuous, sunny terraces in many of the rooms plus a massive rooftop bar and gorgeous two-floor Sicilian-inspired spa pretty much do the trick.
There’s also the option of dining al fresco at Fulvio Pierangelini’s Mosaic restaurant, settling in to the casual-chic Da Sistina trattoria or sipping cocktails at a swish separate bar.
Pricing: A Superior Room starts at 560 euro for two people sharing.
VILLA IGIEA, PALERMO (opens June 2020)
Rocco Forte Hotels is going to be making an entrance when the doors open at Villa Igiea on 1 June. From the outside, the ornate old villa looks like something that might have leaped off the screen from Luchino Visconti’s classic 1963 film Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). On the inside — well, you’ll have to wait and see, but one of the best things about this resort is its location below Mount Pellegrino along the Gulf of Palermo. You’re at a remove from the bustle of Palermo, but still just a hop away from both its Baroque splendor and Palermo’s busy airport.
Pricing: A Superior Room will start at 496 euro for two people sharing.
Few places pair geographical diversity with beauty quite the way Italy does, so any new resort in the country has a leg up on many others almost by default. Italy has never been the province of mega resorts such as you find in Las Vegas or the Bahamas, but the compensation is that Italian resorts are hardwired for slow tourism, meaning you can really luxuriate at the Mandarin Oriental Lake Como or unwind lusciously at Mezzatore in sparkling Ischia. There’s no rush here. And even at the newer urban resorts like Rocco Forte’s Hotel de la Ville in Rome, a plethora of diversions from rooftop bars to hideaway Sicilian spas spell a winning recipe for la dolce vita.
Featured image by Mandarin Oriental Lake Como