Some things are so downright amazing, they don’t seem real. Case in point: these hotel villas we found throughout our travels in Italy. From rustic retreats in the Tuscan countryside to palatial pads in Positano, here are 17 gorgeous Italian villas that you can actually stay in, because they truly do exist in real life.
The mid-range Agriturismo Fattoria Lavacchio provides a quintessential Tuscany retreat with vineyards, olive groves, a windmill, a winery, horse stalls, and a ceramics workshop. There are also a beautiful modern pool, a restaurant and poolside snack bar, and a kids’ club. The property has an assortment of 25 rooms, suites, villas, and apartments, with antique exposed beams, minibars, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and views of the Tuscan hills. Rooms in the main house, though, are reportedly noisy. Apartments and villas—removed from the main house—offer more privacy.
The six-room Villa Torretta is a quaint, two-and-a-half-pearl bed-and-breakfast located in a 19th-century villa overlooking Lake Como. The spectacular views and convenient location—a short walk from Varenna’s ferry and restaurants—are the main draws here, as this family-run guesthouse has few features. Guests pick up their room key at a sister hotel nearby, where a daily continental breakfast is served. The villa has a lovely garden and a waterfront terrace, with interiors that are tastefully antique. Classically styled rooms are spacious and most offer fantastic views from windows or small balconies, though not all rooms have TVs and none have air-conditioning. Similarly styled rooms are available at Hotel Olivedo, this hotel’s sister property. Rates will be cheaper and it has a restaurant.
The Villa Bordoni is an ancient villa that has been transformed into an upscale and charming hotel with just 11 rooms. It’s situated in the Tuscan countryside, about a 15-minute drive from Greve in the world-famous Chianti wine region. Rooms are eclectic and elegant, with rich details and smartly used bold accents, plus modern features like flat-screen TVs and air-conditioning. Some have their own terraces with stunning views of the gorgeous countryside. The restaurant is well-regarded for its Tuscan fare, and the chefs conduct cooking lessons so guests can learn how to prepare it themselves. There are less expensive places to stay in this area, like Castello Vicchiomaggio, but for a relaxing and romantic escape, Villa Bordoni is close to the top.
The five-pearl Aldrovandi Villa Broghese is is an opulent experience in a quiet, upscale residential neighborhood just outside the city center. The well-preserved 19th century building is loaded with rich period details. And its 103 rooms are spacious and offer simple yet elegant decor and marble bathrooms. The lush, relaxing garden area, new La Mer spa, and fine-dining restaurant add luxury. Free parking and free shuttle to the Spanish Steps add value. But, the neighborhood is not a good match for guests who love to walk Rome’s streets to browse shops, visit restaurants, and explore landmarks. For a more intimate luxury experience inside the historic center, travelers could consider The Inn at The Roman Forum.
Villa la Borghetta is a relaxing and romantic four-pearl Tuscan getaway with terraces that overlook a picturesque landscape of olive and cypress trees. A charming restaurant serves Tuscan dishes that guests can learn to prepare in cooking classes, but surprisingly for a region known for food, the free breakfast isn’t good. For pampering, there’s a pool in the garden and a small spa with a hot tub that gets crowded. Coffered ceilings, chandeliers, and canopy beds fill its 18 rooms and suites that have terraces and some whirlpool tubs. Villas are also available with private pools. The Chianti region and Florence are easily in reach by car, but this removed location can be problematic for guests without them. For a property with historic attractions in walking distance, travelers could try the Villa Casagrande, in the medieval town of Figline Valdarno.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is a 95-room, crème de la crème hotel situated on the banks of Lake Como, featuring five-star amenities, ornate decor, and panoramic vistas of the water and mountains. From the grand, three-story exterior with lakeside pool and dock to the neoclassical interior with its raved-about restaurants and spa, this hotel is a showstopper. Rooms have ornate detail and antique style, but some fabrics look a bit dated.
A luxury hotel with history and style just south of the center of Florence, the Villa Cora was built in the late 1860s by Baron Oppenheim, a German financier, and was restored in 2010. It is part of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux fellowship of hotels and restaurants. With a unique heated outdoor pool and a subterranean spa, the special property is a good spot for both relaxation and sightseeing. Those who are up for it can walk a little more than a mile and a half to attractions in the center of Florence, including the Duomo, but the hotel also offers a free shuttle. The hotel provides a fairly good value for its class and amenities.
The 65-room Villa le Maschere is an upscale property nestled in the Tuscan countryside about 45 minutes outside Florence. Built in the 1500s, the look is contemporary and classic, and the hotel is a peaceful retreat ideal for romantics. Rooms vary in size and decor, but all are spacious and elegant with modern comforts. Guests start their day with a free buffet breakfast with alfresco dining when weather permits. The outdoor pool overlooks the Tuscan hills, and the spa and fitness center are other pluses. Guests looking for a historical stay with views in central Florence can consider Grand Hotel Minerva, which has comparable rates.
This hip, yet elegant four-pearl boutique hotel provides gorgeous views of the vibrant Mediterranean Sea from the many outdoor spaces, which are surrounded by beautiful lush gardens. Located on a slope off a windy mountain road, the Villa Carlotta is within a five-to fifteen-minute walk of many of the popular attractions within Taormina and the nearby area. 23 accommodations including guest rooms, suites, and villas are comfortable and nicely furnished, with large windows and pretty views. Luxe features include a shallow outdoor pool, access to a nearby health club, and an on-site restaurant serving organic Italian cuisine. Still, expect to pay for parking on top of already high rates.
The 38-room Hotel Villa Franca is a four-pearl property scenically set on a cliff in Positano, within walking distance of restaurants and shops. From the pool to the restaurant to guest rooms’ balconies, the hotel takes great advantage of its stunning views of the sea and village. There are a few bars on-site, as well as a lovely spa, plus breakfast is included in rates. The pool is small, but its scenic rooftop location affords beautiful views of the surroundings. Rooms feature stylish white and beige decor, and are outfitted with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and marble bathrooms. The nearest beach is about a 10-minute walk away, but the way back is uphill—though guests can also make use of the hotel’s free beach shuttle. Travelers might want to compare rates with Covo Dei Saraceni, which has a beachside location.
This family-run bed-and-breakfast is one of Positano’s most charming properties. Housed in a 19th-century private residence restored with great attention to detail, Villa Mary has four beautiful rooms with wooden floors, elegant classic decor, high vaulted ceilings, and lovely patios offering panoramic views of Positano. There are no amenities on-site, but the property offers great services—such as a private boat for day trips and valet parking—and nice freebies, including Wi-Fi and in-room breakfast. The bed-and-breakfast is located on a steep slope with lots of steps a short walk from central Positano, but there is a bus stop a two-minute walk away.
The Villa Maria Hotel is a four-pearl, family-owned historic property on a hill in picturesque Ravello. There’s an acclaimed, sea-facing restaurant, a cooking school, and an organic garden, and guests get access to the pool at the Villa Maria’s sister property, a five-minute walk away. Its 23 rooms have sea or garden views and all have Vietri-tile floors and bathrooms as well as colorful upholstery mixed with fine antiques. The bathrooms, though pretty, are a bit dated and the 10-minute hike to the hilltop may be too much for some. For a more convenient location in Ravello, travelers might want to check out Hotel Rufolo.
Nestled into expansive orchards and offering beautiful views of the countryside, the Villa Rizzo Resort & Spa is a gorgeous boutique property suited to leisure travelers looking for a country holiday, albeit one with upscale amenities. Originally built as a farm, the hotel includes 18 spacious (but a bit bare) rooms, as well as a large outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, and a full spa and wellness center with whirlpool, Turkish bath, steam room, and fitness center, as well as specialty massages and treatments. Guests will need a car to get to this hotel, and for getting around; the remote location and winding roads can make it a bit difficult to find, but incredible views and tranquility await guests on arrival.
With its panoramic views, pristine gardens, and exquisite Neo-renaissance architecture, the 18-room Villa la Vedetta offers a truly luxurious experience outside the center of Florence. This refined, five-pearl property sets itself apart from others in its class with modern decor, a spacious rooftop terrace, and a surprisingly large seasonal outdoor pool and hot tub. The restaurant offers an impressive wine list and creative Florentine cuisine, and there’s a free shuttle to the city center throughout the day. Rooms are big and opulent, with canopy beds, garden or city views, and marble bathrooms. The only downfalls for some guests could be the distance from the center of Florence, and the fact that sometimes weddings overtake the grounds. Guests seeking a more old-world luxury vibe could try the Grand Hotel Villa Cora. Wi-Fi here is free throughout.
The 12-room Hotel Villa Gabrisa is a small, upper-middle-range, family-run hotel with a scenic cliffside location in Positano. Rooms are decorated in a romantic style and all have furnished balconies or terraces with spectacular sea views. The views can also be enjoyed from the shady outdoor terrace of the on-site restaurant, open from April to October. A buffet breakfast is included in the room rate, and there’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property. One nice extra feature is the on-site wine shop. Travelers looking for a hotel with a swimming pool could consider Hotel Poseidon, which also has an on-site spa and a Turkish bath built right into the cliff rock.
Housed in a restored Medieval villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the 26-room Villa Fraulo draws couples and honeymooners. Although it has been renovated several times, this upper-middle-range property retains some of its original architectural elements and historic atmosphere. Rich fabrics, ornate golden details and antique-style furniture give the property a refined feel, but lack of investment in areas such as the pool, the façade, and some Standard Rooms tarnishes its grandeur. All rooms have elegant classic decor, modern amenities, and balconies or terraces offering expansive sea views, and the restaurant serves decent regional food on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. The location in central Ravello, within walking distance of restaurants and historic sights, is a major plus.
Perched on the side of a vertical cliff high above the Mediterranean, this 20-room no-frills boutique draws couples and families with stunning sea views from rooms and common spaces. The property is bare bones in terms of amenities, but it does have a cute rooftop restaurant that serves traditional regional cuisine, and a tiny pool that is mostly in the shade. Additionally, Villa Bellavista in near two small rocky beaches, but note that they can only be accessed via hundreds of steep steps. Clean, airy rooms have basic decor and amenities, but most feature balconies with expansive vistas.
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This article was originally published by Oyster under the headline 17 Stunning Italian Villas That Don’t Seem Real (But Are). It is reprinted here with permission.