Friday, April 29, 2011

Private estates, castles and chateaus in Italy and France

Villa Spalletti Trivelli - Rome, Italy -
Andrea Spalletti - Owner, Sales Representative
Maria Merra - General Manager

Described as a century-old opulent city retreat, this beautiful restored estate provides all the comfort of a 5-star hotel in a luxury residence. All the 12 rooms and suites, as well as the public areas, are large and airy showcasing antiques and family collections. Each room is unique with handmade pure linen sheets replicating the family's coat of arms, antique furniture, portraits and drawings with very large marble bathrooms.

The impressive Library is recognized by the Ministry of National Heritage and Culture.  Their beautiful private garden as well as their Health Center provide respite from Rome's hustle and bustle.

We were privileged to enjoy a delightful dinner with Andrea Spalletti Trivelli, a most charming young man sharing with us his family history and residence ghosts.  A great selection of breakfast items are set up in the family dining room daily.  Lunch and dinner can be arranged by request only.  This unique property is not for everyone, but will appeal to clients who return to Rome searching for privacy and elegance in an old estate.

Borgo de Castelvecchio - near Siena, Tuscany, Italy -
Count and Countess Alessandro and Simona Gaetani d'Aragona - Owners

This most charming medieval hamlet is part of the family's 2000 acre estate  overlooking the breathtaking Val D'Orcia in Tuscany. The castle is dating back to the 11th century composed of old stone farmhouses faithfully restored maintaining the original architecture. In the heart of the fortress you will find the original school house, church/chapel and the old barn which has been converted into an amazing dining hall used for weddings and other functions. Its beautiful terrace, surrounded by wrought iron gazebo covered with thick wisteria, overlooks a limitless and unforgettable Tuscan landscape.

Our host and hostess, Alessander and Simona, welcomed us into their unique home with such warm and genuine hospitality that we felt like their close friends. A family feast was prepared consisting of fresh organic products from the farm, including antelope, their own wine, olive oil, and produce, all delicious.

Among other activates, the estate has two swimming pools, a riding school specializing in obstacle jumps, dressage and country horse riding. The grounds are ideal for hiking and exploring, they offer cooking classes as well as photography and painting lessons.  The rooms are large and comfortable all offering incredible views.  In addition to the main building they also have restored old farmhouses, which are ideal for families.  Total rooms/farmhouses:  31

Villa Mangiacane, Chianti Classico -  Florence, Italy -
Juan Miguel - Hotel Manager

Our next stop brought us to the winemaking region of Chianti and the 15th century Villa Mangiacane located 7 miles south of Florence.

Mangiacane is a private estate set within 600 acres of flourishing vineyards and olive groves which produces four award winning wines and a distinctive olive oil which you can taste and enjoy during your stay.  The classic beauty of Mangiacane combined with its history, art and idyllic countryside setting create the perfect backdrop for a Tuscan wedding, unforgettable holiday or exclusive rental.  Luxurious facilities complement the private villa, including the newly opened Nadushka Spa, three swimming pools, unique sculpture gardens and breathtaking Tuscan views of the Duomo in Florence.  The villa was built for the Machiavelli family with whispers that Michelangelo himself participated in the design.  In fact, because of the significance of the owners and architects, the original building plan for improvements are housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Perhaps the most admirable details at the villa are found in the beautifully restored Renaissance frescos, which were uncovered in the revival process.

All the accommodations are spacious, unique and filled with the owner's extensive art collections. The staff could not have been more friendly and accommodating.   Total rooms 28. (Some of the beautiful duplexes might not be suitable for older guest since the bathrooms are located upstairs.)

And off we go to France.

Cap Estel - Eze Bord de Mer, French Riviera -
Bernard Apthorp - General Director

This true legend and prestigious hideway was built in the 19th century by a Russian aristocrat and is located on a 5-acre peninsula overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  The views are second to none, regardless of the location of your suite or room.  The interior offers equal parts of "period pieces and modern boutique" with vibrant colors mixed with bright minimalist white. The rooms are very comfortable with modern beds and baths alongside antique mirrors and Louis XVI armchairs and private terraces or balconies. The suites are sprawling and decadent, some in the main building and others in the Italian-style villa directly on the ocean.  Meals are served in the Pool House by the "to die for" infinity pool, or in the stylish dining room.

The villa comes with a spa and fitness center housing another beautifully tiled indoor pool, a billiard room, a piano bar and a private cinema. We were fortunate to spend two nights in this magnificent home.  I felt every day as though my eyes would just give out because they couldn't take in all the beauty. A must see if you are in the area. 14 suites - 4 rooms.


Le Chateau de la Treyne - on the Dordogne River in Midi-Pyrenees Region east of Bordeaux France -
Philippe and Stephanie Gombert - Owners

This storybook towered chateau dates back to the 14th century and is set amid three hundred acres of gardens and woodlands in France's most renowned gastronomic area. La Treyne is really a genuine home unobtrusively decorated with discreet luxury. The fourteen rooms and two apartments invite you into the real life of a chateau. You may dine in Salon Louis XIII or enjoy sunset on the lovely terrace overhanging the Dordogne River.  My princely room was located in the tower and when I opened the windows the lovely views of the river and Baroque gardens took my breath away. Blue, blue skies, fresh spring air and nothing but rolling hills invite you to an unforgettable experience in the French countryside.

The chateau's finest jewel must surely be its grand Louis XIII Salon. Regularly, candle-lit dinners with guests in period costume are organized in order to re-live La Treyne's glorious past.  The chef, Stephane Andrieux, has devoted his culinary know-how exclusively to Chateau de La Treyne for the past ten years. His creativity and talent earned him his first Michelin star in 2001.

The region offer endless activities for both sport enthusiasts as well as for those seeking architectural heritage. Close by you may explore picturesque markets, mountain citadels, abbeys, churches and vinyards.  It is also a land of caves and caverns, cliffs for rock-climbing, hiking and canoeing, just to name a few.

I must express how grateful I am that the Dordogne was part of our trip.  It offers peace and quiet for those in search of nature and authenticity. I hope to return soon.

Le Moulin de L'Abbaye -  Brantome, region of Perigord, Dordogne, France -
Stephan Chaline - Manager
Guilaume Puig - Assistant Manager

Le Moulin de l'Abbaye is an old mill converted into a romantic hotel and restaurant situated in the Village of Brantome -  "the Venice of the Perigord".

The elegant Gourmet Restaurant is a culinary delight with an amazing view of the river of la Dronne and the Village. The old Benedictine Abbey was founded in 769 by Charlemagne and is home to the relics of Saint-Sicaire and has become a much visited place of pilgrimage. Walking around Brantome with its beautiful dwellings is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Le Mouline offers a total of 19 accommodations in three historical buildings.  The ancient Mill, The Miller House and the Abbot House, dating back to the 13th century, will accommodated couples or families in well appointed rooms, suites and apartments.  The public areas are warm and inviting complemented by an extremely friendly and accommodating staff. Activities in the area include kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, vineyards and markets. Unfortunately our one night visit was too short to enjoy all this village has to offer,

In addition to these properties, I was able to include hotel inspections at:

The Hassler, Roma
Portrait Suites, Roma
Chateau Eze, Eze
Chateau de La Chevre d'Or,  Eze
Hotel La Perouse, Nice
Hotel San Regis, Paris

Feel free to contact me if you have clients interested in any of these hotels.
Photos and article by Anne Grethe Parkin -