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Living La Dolce Villa

April 2, 2007 By: Sharri Whiting De Masi Travel Agent

Selling the good life in Italy will be easier with the insider scoop from these suppliers

Luxury villa vacations in Italy are becoming increasingly popular, as the well-traveled look for lifestyle experiences on the highest end. Why not suggest clients vacation in the former house of a prince, the tower of a bishop, or a winemaker's villa?  Villa Arienzo near Positano, Amalfi Coast

Like other high-end rental agencies, Florence, Italy-based Sanctuary Villas
is committed to "smoothing the process" for their guests. Every group
is assigned a "Poppin" (pop-in)—a kind of fairy godperson who shows
them the villa, stocks the refrigerator, books day trips and tours, takes them
to the local village for an orientation tour and generally is there to bridge
the gap between the villa and hotel experience.

Villas Executive Gaia Anichini de Bueger ([email protected])
showed us a luxury property in Sanctuary's 2007 catalogue, the recently
restored Villa de Panzano in Tuscany,
owned by an old noble wine family. Just 18 miles from Florence,
the house is 10 minutes from the village
of Greve
in Chianti.
There are four bedrooms and four bathrooms in the main stone house, with three
outside en suite guest suites; all are air-conditioned. Of the exterior suites,
the Dante is the one to request.

The house has an enormous pool lined with travertine marble,
perfect for spending a quiet afternoon reading or admiring the view.

The pool at Villa de Panzano in Tuscany

represents 40 Italian properties at the high end, all with options
for full service. According to President Mara Solomon ([email protected];
781-545-5112), it's important to realize that, for some clients, luxury equals
privacy, while for others, decompression means being waited on hand and foot.

One of Homebase Abroad's listings, the Villa Arienzo,
is a fully staffed luxury villa near Positano on the Amalfi Coast.
With seven levels of terraces overlooking the Mediterranean,
the house has five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms. There is moorage for
private yacht anchorage and Homebase Abroad can arrange for a yacht rental for
those who wish to sail away for a few days. Guests may arrive via plane into Naples and be transported
to the house by car and driver or by private motorboat or sailboat with
skipper, both of which are available throughout their stay.

More private and rustic is their Borgo di Bastia Creti
in northern Umbria
near the Tuscan border. (The property may be seen at
For VIP reservations, contact Roberto Wirth, owner and GM of Rome's legendary
Hotel Hassler ([email protected], 39-06-699-34-724), or the travel
agency owned by Renato Rondina, which exclusively represents the Borgo.
Contacts who speak English are Anna Pantaleone (39-339-217-4412) and Mirco
Rondina ([email protected],

Offering Hassler-style service and luxury in the country,
Borgo di Bastia Creti is in a medieval village dating to 1200 and including a
monastery. There are five beautifully restored houses of ancient stone on the
property, sleeping from two to six, including the Cipressi and Ginestra, which
face each other across a flowered courtyard and are ideal for a larger group
traveling together.

The grounds comprise an expansive six acres, with large
swimming pool and tennis court, and tables set under the oaks. The atmosphere
is that of a quiet, private village, which is exactly what it is—it's so
private and tricky to find, in fact, that the owners recommend guests arrive by
car and driver, if possible, and will assist in making those arrangements. The
property is 18 miles from the airport near Perugia,
where private aircraft, as well as commercial jets from Milan, can land.

In central Umbria,
in view of the ancient spires of Todi, is the magnificent Torre Almonte, one of a chain
of castles built around the city for protection in the 13th century. Owner
Raffaela Gabbetta ([email protected],
39-333-492-9586) has restored and decorated the tower in a fresh and
distinctive manner, mixing Milanese contemporary design with thousand-year-old Umbria stone.

Torre Almonte features two apartments, each of which takes
up an entire floor (more than 1,200 square feet) and comprises two double
bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area and living room with a massive
fireplace. The apartment on the fourth floor has more comfy sofas, but both are
very well designed. Prospective guests who appreciate contemporary design
should look at photographs of the rooms before choosing an apartment to make
sure their preference is met. A third, smaller apartment has one double bedroom
and one bath, along with a living room. The tower is also available in its
entirety for larger groups. On the ground floor is a large dining room and
serving area, as well as a contemporary living room, perfect for pre-dinner
cocktails. On the roof, there is a terrace with panoramic views of rolling
hills, olive orchards and vineyards.

Fifteen minutes along Lake Como from Bellagio is the Villa La
Corte del Lago
, near the village
of Limonata
. Located in a
serene park on the quiet side of the lake, the villa has a chef, but is also a
five-minute walk from a Michelin-star ristorante. This part of the
lakeshore is elegant and private, accessible by boat, seaplane or car. The
shops of Bellagio are 15 minutes away; the towns of Como
and Lecco, as
well as other towns that dot the coast, are easy to reach for day trips or

This villa, with its frescoed ceilings and glittering
chandeliers, has seven bedrooms, seven bathrooms and a fully modernized
kitchen. A lakeside terrace wraps around the house, which was built in the 19th
century. The house is managed by IC
. Contact Program Director Emanuela Molinari ([email protected],
39-031-95-2059 ext. 20, or 39-334-675-9394).

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