Italy

Stay: Casa Talia

Modica, Sicily, Italy
09.16.2011 | by: Meghan

I’m inspired by the story of this beautiful property for so many reasons. First of all, the couple who owns it fell in love with the town (for its slower way of life) while on holiday and decided to change their own lives. Marco Giunta and Viviana Haddad bought one of these cave-like rooms built into the landscape of Modica, a Sicilian town that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Every time they visited, they’d buy another, and within eight months, they owned 12 of them. Both with architecture backgrounds, they started stringing them together through the interiors. “Every single room used to be a family home. We renovated them to be one single property, with all of them connected through the garden.” Most of the furniture in each room was either built or restored by them, and now that they live there full-time, Marco has left architecture for furniture design and running the beautiful property.

And here’s the kicker: The emphasis of the place is on taking it easy. I mean, really taking it easy. I like to call it slow travel–and it’s my favorite way to spend a vacation. “We want people to come here and take their time to enjoy the view, the air, and relax,” says Marco. Each room is inspired by a different country on the Mediterranean Sea… the walls are made of stone, caves or locally made tiles. And they just want to make sure everyone is enjoying the air. Perfect.

The Details
Each little room-house has an entrance from the garden (at different natural levels) and a private terrace that overviews the historical center of Modica. Prices start at $180 a night. Rent it at welcomebeyond.com.

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Stay: 3Rooms

Milan, Italy
07.25.2011 | by: Meghan

Designtripper contributor D. Graham Kostic gives a special report on Milan’s 3Rooms, owned and decorated by former Italian Elle icon Carla Sozzani.

3Rooms is a mini-hotel concept in the heart of Milan. And as the name implies, it has just that, only three rooms. But these aren’t just any rooms; these are three beautiful apartments all decorated by Carla Sozzani, the publisher and gallerist behind the renowned 10 Corso Como, a group of gallery-like spaces with an international reputation for fusing fashion, art, books, music and design. The interiors here read like a rolodex of famous designers that includes Charles and Ray Eames, Joe Colombo, Kris Ruhs, Sebastian Matta and Arne Jacobsen. Each apartment consists of a lounge space, a separate bedroom and a huge bathroom–all with the perfect mix of pattern, texture and restrained color. And it’s not just the interiors that are so appealing: The hotel’s surroundings and its romantic ivy-covered patio are also hugely appealing. With hardly any signage and hidden within the 10 Corso Como boutique and restaurant, the bed & breakfast is a perfectly discreet home base to come and go as you please. And the design echoes this hush-hush vibe, as the apartments, although outfitted with important design pieces, remain unstuffy and livable. My advice? If you’re going to stay here, try to stay for a long period of time, so you can fully take advantage the large and spacious rooms with their massive walk-in closets.

Stay: Casa Orlandi

Prato, Italy
06.03.2011 | by: Meghan

I’ve been dreaming about this this magical 18th-century palazzo ever since I saw it on a Yatzer a couple years ago. On a whim, I decided to get in touch with the architect homeowner, Sabrina Bignami, who restored the interiors and decorated the amazing space covered with frescoes by famous 1800s painter Luigi Catani. As luck would have it, Sabrina lets guests stay in the frescoed pink bedroom and offers breakfast on the terrace (during the summer) or in the magnificent dining room with fireplace (in the colder months). “We like to give hospitality as the architects of the house,” says Sabrina, who specializes in restoring period buildings. The firm she founded, b-arch, is also located in Prato, a textile town just outside Florence.

The Details
Stay in this magical palazzo for $150 Euros a night, breakfast included. Email Sabrina.bignami@b-arch.it to organize your stay.

Stay: Castello di Vicarello

Cinigiano, Italy
04.06.2011 | by: Meghan

This AD 1112 Tuscan castle, situated in an olive tree grove and endless gardens between the mountains and the sea, could not possibly be more revered among travel editors. I first read about it in Vogue, where Vicki Woods describes the fairytale spread as “a thing of vast antiquity and beautiful proportions that floats above the ancient hills.” Once it snagged my attention, it seemed to crop up everywhere (from Travel + Leisure to Remodelista; there are 18 pages of press clippings on the website). And for good reason. The castle was brought back from ruin by the owners, Aurora and Carlos Baccheschi, who found cows in inside the castle when they bought it a couple decades ago. Since then, they’ve slowly rehabbed Vicarello, decorating it with a charming mix of midcentury and Indonesian antiques, then landscaping the sprawling, cypress tree-lined grounds into some kind of epicurean fantasy–medieval courtyard, cobblestones, organic vegetable gardens, two freshwater pools (one that’s made of travertine and looks out over the lush Tuscan landscape, the other nestled in the olive trees), more than 1,000 rose bushes and a nearby forest where you can hike and forage for mushrooms.

The Details
Prices start at $500 a night, meals included. All seven rooms are different. The kitchen is all about traditional Tuscan fare, and much of the ingredients are grown on site, using traditional growing methods and organic guidelines. They offer cooking classes, and there’s also a spa. Book it at Welcome Beyond.

[Photos via Remodelista and Castello di Vicarello]

Stay: Monastero

Pantelleria, Italy
12.22.2010 | by: Meghan

Kelly spotted a photo of Monastero in W magazine this summer, but it wasn’t until we looked it up that we realized how unbelievably beautiful and sprawling and visually all-consuming this place is. Fashion photographer Fabrizio Ferri bought the entire village in Pantelerria (a rustic island off the coasts of Sicily and Tunisia in the Mediterranean) 22 years ago, and transformed the crumbling stone, cave-like dwellings with help from local architect Gabriella Giuntoli. It’s been attracting industry creatives, high-profile artists and even celebs who want to steal away in a super-private, luxe-but-full-of-character place oozing ancient charm ever since (oh, you know– Sting, Madonna).

This year, Fabrizio and his wife Alessandra tapped interior designer Barbara Frua De Angeli to give the place a makeover. The result, according to W: Nine unique rooms, some with private gardens, others with frescoes, and all with large baths and shaded verandas. Gem-toned linens, antique beds and sculptural lamps mix with sleek, modern consoles and the occasional African textile.

There are no prices available; not usually an encouraging sign. I’m pretty sure I’ll never visit, but looking at these photos kind of feels like taking a little vacation to paradise.

Stay: Podere Palazzo

Tuscany, Italy
08.12.2010 | by: Meghan

modern tuscan farmhouse

When Chicago designer Patrizio Fradiani bought this abandoned stone farmhouse from the 1700s, he tore it down. But instilled with an architect’s appreciation for historical significance, he studied and photographed the way it was built, using traditional construction techniques (down to the joinery in the exposed wood beams) to reconstruct it. He made use of local craftsman and resources whenever possible, and nearly every building material he used came from within a 10-mile radius: wood from the chestnut trees across the valley, rocks from the river below, matching bricks from the surrounding grounds. He recycled 100 percent of the stonework (using leftovers for the area around the pool), but when he needed additional terra cotta tiles, he went to a 400-year-old mill down the street where they were crafted by hand and dried by the wind.

“It’s just the way things have always been done here,” says Fradiani, who bought the place (with his partner Mark) because he was pining for a physical connection to his native Italy. Eschewing all the greenwashing hype that accompanies most environmentally conscious projects, Fradiani is so humble about his efforts. He went to lengths most people would never dream of—all for the integrity of the old and crumbling stone farmhouse, its first floor a former stable for pigs and cows.

Now a thoroughly modern, mountain-top villa with Donald Judd-like art installations, an infinity pool and patchwork views of the Tuscan countryside, Podere Palazzo is a design and foodie dreamscape. Berries, grapes, flowers, herbs, local variety of olive trees selected for producing a strong and fruity oil—and now, an orchard of 40 rare fruit trees all unique and different (an homage to the lost biodiversity of trees in the world)—grow among the spindly cypress trees and are free for the picking and cooking. Trails wind down the mountain. A flock of sheep rumbles by every morning (to our 17-month-old’s delight). Wild boars scurry about while we relax outside on the patio every night with a bottle of wine. Even taking a shower is transformed into a transcendental experience. Open-air, oversized farmhouse windows in the natural stone shower provide endless views of the wildly different landscapes—undulating golden fields, verdant hillside pastures, and deep, dense forests—that all come together in this one magical place.

The Details

Five bedrooms, five bathrooms, three fireplaces, one heated pool. Do not miss indulging in a three-hour dinner at nearby La Parolina, a restaurant by two young hotshot expat chefs from Rome, who chose the countryside over the big city. Rent it at poderepalazzo.com.