From extraordinary places to lay your head to design heritage that dates back hundreds of years – if you are looking for the best of Italy, then seek out one of these exquisite new launches for inspiration for your travels this year.
Lake Como’s luxury suite with a twist
Il Sereno has been dubbed one of the most celebrated hotel launches of the 21st century. Found on the shores of Lake Como, the hotel has continuously won accolades for its contemporary aesthetic, exclusivity and elevated interior design by Patricia Urquiola. (It won ‘Number 1 Resort Hotel in Italy’ by Travel + Leisure magazine, and ‘Best Hotels in Italy’ by Condé Nast Readers’ Choice 2021.)
Taking the principle of luxury living even higher, it has launched Europe’s first shoppable penthouse suite, with guests able to buy the furnishings found throughout the stunning apartment.
The pickings are rich, with the interiors conceived to be a tribute to emblematic Italian design and inspired by post-war Italian glamour, Modernist features and Como silks. Inside, is a selection of bespoke Patricia Urquiola furniture – such as the ‘Lariana’ bathtub and the ‘Ludo’ armchair. These are mixed with more classic pieces, such as the ‘Infinito’ bookcase by Franco Albini and the ‘Leggera’ chair by Gio Ponti. Designer Patricia Urquiola has also hand-selected further standout items designed by Vico Magistretti, Charlotte Perirand and Carlo Scarpa.
From its Canaletto walnut wooden ceilings to the Verde Alpi stone walls, Ceppo di Gre and Venetian terrazzo floors – the penthouse is laden with locally-sourced fittings and fixtures to celebrate the heritage of the region. Meanwhile, fabrics are inspired by 1950s’ scarf fashion and the landscape motifs of Lake Como. Complementing the interior design, leading French botanist, Patrick Blanc, has designed a sculptural vertical garden adorning the building’s façade below the suite.
Tuscany’s first Asian-inspired spa
The new COMO Castello Del Nero may be carved out of a 12-century castle, within an historic 740-acre estate, but it is also home to a cutting-edge spa.
Inside the hotel, which is found just outside the village of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, interiors blend Renaissance frescoes with contemporary design, conceived by esteemed designer, Paola Navone.
Renowned for its wellness prowess, COMO has also bought its renowned Asian-inspired spa approach to the offering. The new COMO Shambhala Retreat combines targeted treatments, world-class experts and energy-giving cuisine.
Offering breath-taking views over the Tuscan countryside, on offer is al fresco yoga and Pilates, thermal suites, a 25m heated outdoor pool and a Forest Gym. Soothing signature therapies use COMO’s bespoke blended oils – as well as ingredients sourced from the estate, including lavender and olive oil – so you can completely be immersed in Tuscany by way of Asia.
A Sicilian palace bought back to life
From its elegant music room to its opulent ballroom, the Di Lorenzo del Castelluccio Palace in Sicily is one of Italy’s most decadent palaces.
Originally owned by the Marquis de Castelluccio, who belonged to one of the oldest families in Noto, it dates back to 1782 and still boasts original frescoes and Sicilian ceramic floors.
The Marquis de Castelluccio was one of the last ‘servals’or ‘leopards of Sicily – wealthy aristocrats who flooded the island with luxury. Following his death, his home fell to ruin. A half-century later, author Jean-Louis Remilleux fell in love with this dilapidated 18th-century palace and made it his mission to restore it. Now, following a four-year renovation project, in which artworks were restored and original Sicilian furniture has been bought back to life, it has reopened to visitors and his work documented in a new book.
A Palace in Sicily: A Masterpiece Restored by Jean-Louis Remilleux (published by ACC Art Books) is a photographic journey documenting the splendour of the palace. The atmospheric series of photgraphs, by Mattia Aquila, portrays how the Di Lorenzo del Castelluccio Palace is one of the finest testaments to Sicilian architecture and art.
Today, lush green palm trees welcome you to the palace’s imposing front façade. Frescoes, arabesques, masks, ceilings and wainscoting have all been restored to their former glory and the book charts the restoration process and celebrates the astonishing end results.
A divine home-from-home on the Amalfi Coast
Iconic hotel on the Amalfi coat, Hotel Santa Caterina, is upping its luxury offering this summer with a new villa and suite offering, named ‘The Villas della Marchesa’.
With panoramic sea views, a 36m outdoor pool and private wine cellar, the main villa consists of three bedrooms, and has calming décor inspired by the colours of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, accessed by steps or the elevator, there are a further two separate suites which can be hired together with the villa.
The ‘villas’ share a garden terrace, swimming pool, solarium and a wine cellar. Perfect for larger groups, guests can arrange personalised home-cooking and wine lists from the hotel, or – even better perhaps – can dine in the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Glicine, which has been awarded a Michelin star three years in a row.
A hotel which celebrates the heritage of Venice in more ways than one
Said to be the very first hotel in Venice, the Baglioni Hotel Luna di Venezia, found on the edge of Piazza San Marco, recently reopened after a serious renovation project.
Venetian fabric house, Rubelli, which also dates back hundreds of years, was one of the significant partners that worked with the Baglioni Hotel Group on the restyling of the hotel, with its fabrics and wallpapers used throughout the project.
The landmark hotel weaves together the story of the centuries-old traditions belonging to the city of Venice. The restoration work has sensitively integrated this artistic and craft heritage with contemporary, custom-made bespoke furniture and furnishings, many by Rubelli.
Rubelli’s signature velvets, lampas and damasks are on display in the draperies and fabrics that adorn the interiors. In the restored Canova restaurant, for instance, the original wainscoted walls, lined with 18th-century paintings, are brought to life with Rubelli’s water-coloured ‘Venier Wall’ wallpaper.
In the entrance area, and in the large double-height Sala del Camino, the aesthetic is pure Venetian glamour with flooring, inlaid with Red Verona, Yellow Siena and Peach Blossom marble, large antique Murano chandeliers and the Venetian stuccoes on the walls. Additions by Rubelli complement these rather than detract from their beauty.
The restoration work with Baglioni is just one example how Rubelli champions the heritage of Venice, and Italy, with the brand also having a long history as a patron to the arts. Its significant cultural projects include the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, La Fenice Opera house and the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. The company still weaves cut and uncut velvet on four original hand looms from the late 18th century, as well as producing global collections on state-of-the-art electronic jacquard looms at Rubelli’s Cucciago factory in Como. History is at the heart of its ethos.