Way Up Over the Top
VILLA CRESPI, LAKE ORTA
A Moorish exclamation point at the end of a gorgeous day in the Italian Lake District ,
Villa Crespi is an exuberant, filigreed folly of a hotel. Dating to 1879, it was built by an Italian cotton magnate as his (ahem) humble getaway home. This Relais & Châteaux confection is dear to us, though, because of Cinzia and Tony, our husband-and-wife hosts. Cinzia welcomes you as her houseguest. When Tony whips up dinner, it’s a Michelin-starred masterpiece. In residence at Villa Crespi, you bask in their passionate and very personal hospitality — an experience as memorable as the sweeping views down to Lake Orta and the mountains beyond.
The Tuscan Fantasy
VILLA LE BARONE, TUSCANY
“We’re off to the villa,” you say in the dream version of life, with your scarf trailing in the breeze from the Ferrari. Only this time it’s real. Touch the 16th-century stone wall to prove it. The della Robbia family claimed this Chianti hilltop for their home. These days, our friends Corso and Jacqueline (otherwise known as the Count and Countess) greet you at the door. The pool is cool on a sunny day. The gardens are thick with roses. Dinner on the terrace overlooking the olive groves and the village of San Leolino will have you grasping for adjectives … and wishing the moment would never end. It’s easy to see why this is one of our favorite hotels in Italy!
Palace of Wonders
PALAZZO GATTINI, MATERA
If you ruled the world (or at least the UNESCO World Heritage city of Matera), Palazzo Gattini would be your rightful home. Rising over a rolling sea of creamy limestone buildings, the 15th-century palace of the Gattini counts is a perfect symphony of barrel-vaulted ceilings, plates of orrechiette on the terrace, insanely plush towels and crisp, cordial service. In an awesome feat of transformation, the underground caves and cisterns make up a chic spa with sparkling pools and an irresistible hot-stone massage. Our guests call it a “stunning spectacle” that is “amazing in every way.” We describe it in just two words: Oooh. And ahhhhh.
GRAND HOTEL QUISISANA, CAPRI
Don’t forget your Foster Grants when you head to the glamorous pool at the “Quisi,” as those of you in the glitterati know Capri’s most exclusive refuge. The service is star treatment all the way, as expected from a Leading Hotels of the World property. The sunny, Mediterranean- style rooms serve up glorious views of the town or the sea. Stroll out for a little shopping after the turisti scurry back to Naples at the end of the day. Quisisana translates as “here one heals.” If you doubt us, just consider how you will feel sipping your Negroni on the terrace at sunset.