From medieval palazzos in Florence to dreamy resorts on Capri and fashion-forward boutique hotels, there is plenty of exciting new Italian hotels to explore for a slice of la dolce vita …
Main Image; Six Senses, Rome
1. PALAZZO PREVITERA, SICILY
VIBE: Living Museum
Palazzo Previtera has just opened on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, after a ten year restoration project. The house was originally built in 1649, in the town of Linguaglossa by Gregorio Previtera, whose family became pioneers in the production of Etna wine – exporting globally in 1810 and introducing the first Etna DOC red wine with the label Ragabo in 1968.
Ornate ceilings, antique floor tiles and Sicilian furniture are the décor details found in each of the Palazzo’s three bedrooms. One is a suite, which can sleep up to four people. There are two cottages in the Palazzo’s gardens – sleeping up to six people. Guests can have breakfast in the house or garden (built on the site of a lava cave dating back to 1180) with its dreamy mature olive, lemon, magnolia and jasmine trees. Dinner is also available with ingredients sourced from the palazzo garden, though the local town is a five-minute walk, where the Michelin-starred Shalai restaurant is found. As an ideal base for wine tasting (there are 170 vineyards) as well as e-biking and hiking in the area, art lovers will also and appreciate the Palazzo’s contemporary art collection. There is also a revolving schedule of artists exhibitions over the next few months which include Mathias Malling Mortensen (April), Mary Lennox Studio (May ), Søren Sejr (May-July) and André Hemer (September). Prices range from €150 to €250 per night with breakfast. Catania airport is an hour away; www.palazzoprevitera.com.
2. SIX SENSES ROME
VIBE: Sustainable Oasis
Probably the hottest news this spring is the first Six Senses property in Italy located in a palazzo building just blocks away from the Fontana di Trevi and Pantheon and moments away from prime shopping streets of Via Condotti, Frattina and Borgognona. It occupies a UNESCO listed building – the Palazzo Salviati Cesi Mellini – built in the 18th-century by Tomaso De Marchis, who adorned it with beautiful windows and Baroque motifs.
The reimagined building now houses 95 guest rooms and suites, a spa with Roman baths, restaurant, events terrace, outdoor courtyard garden and rooftop terrace with a panoramic view of the city and monuments. Patricia Urquiola has overseen the interior design. The restaurant will offer a modern interpretation of Italian flavours while following the Six Senses ethos of natural local ingredients, and less is more. As with all Six Senses properties, guests have the opportunity to learn to harness the (super) power of local herbs, plants and ingredients at the Alchemy Bar, or more about sustainability at the Earth Lab. www.sixsenses.com.
3. CASA BAGLIONI, MILAN
VIBE: Milanese Design Haven
Within walking distance of Milan’s chicest galleries, boutiques, bars and antique shops, this Brera-neighbourhood boutique hotel is an ode to 1960s Italian style. Interior designer Gala Rotelli is responsible for the ambiance of its 30 rooms and suites showcasing the very best mid-century design inspiration, re-imagined by a host of Made-in-Italy talent including architects Spagnulo & Partners, heritage lighting by Panzeri and customised fabrics and furniture. Rotelli is detail-oriented and has also devised creative travel experiences and private tours. Guests can follow in the footsteps of polymath Gio Ponti, explore the refined ceramic arts at Villa Necchi, or discover the artists of the Brera School. Michelin-starred chef Claudio Sadler is in charge of the hotel’s destination restaurant, while a modernist wine cellar offers tastings of more than 850 Italian and international vintages; www.baglionihotels.com.
4. MAZZARO SEA PALACE, TAORMINA, SICILY
VIBE: Sea-view suites on a sparkling bay
Located on one of the prettiest bays in Sicily with its own private beach club, this 70-room resort is a luxurious little hideaway within easy reach of Taormina. Each room, decorated in a relaxed, contemporary aesthetic, has a dreamy view of the sea. Its scenic pool, solarium and Hyd’Or spa offer further escapism. (Do investigate the wellness programmes and treatments which feature natural ingredients like Sicilian mud and locally-grown citrus fruits). As for dining, the panoramic Armònia restaurant promises Sicilian flavours in a sophisticated seaside setting, while Amarè Bar offers chic cocktails. Just steps away from the hotel is a quirky cable car to the historic town centre of Taormina with its perfectly preserved Greek Theatre. Private boat trips can be arranged to Isola Bella and the surrounding Natural Marine Reserve; www.vretreats.com.
5. PORTRAIT MILANO
If you’ve been to the sibling hotels of Portrait Firenze or Roma, you’ll know these are Ferragamo-owned hotels which combine charm, impressive art collections and fashion credentials. Portrait Milano is no exception – right in the heart of Milan’s fashion district – and is housed in a former seminary. Interiors are contemporary and deftly blend with historic colonnades, courtyards and baroque stone walkways. Worth mentioning is that the hotel’s restaurant 10_11, has now become the place to be seen! www.lungarnocollection.com
6. HOTEL LA PALMA, CAPRI
VIBE: Timeless elegance
The oldest hotel on Capri, dating back to 1822, has hosted artists, poets, writers and musicians since it opened 200 years ago. Interior designer Francis Sultana has transformed the hotel, now part of the (posh) Oetker Collection. With a rooftop restaurant, pool deck and spa, it’s minutes from the famous Piazzetta and not far from the key sights of I Giardini di Augusto, Via Krupp, La Certosa and the iconic Faraglioni. Hotel La Palma will be a gourmand’s delight, with Gennaro’s restaurant, bar, and terrace, under the culinary direction of Chef Gennaro Esposito. (Esposito has managed his own two-Michelin Star restaurant, Torre del Saracino, for the last 23 years). A simple, stylish step back in time to the Capri of the 1950s, Gennaro’s will embrace the timeless romance of the island, serving unpretentious, authentic Italian cuisine. A short drive to Capri’s southern coast, guests will discover Hotel La Palma’s elegant, yet buzzy La Palma Beach Club in the Marina Piccola. This will be a target rich environment for people watching and languishing (dressed in Pucci) on its loungers enjoying sun-drenched days flow into glittering twilight evenings; www.oetkercollection.com.
7. RELAIS SANTA CROCE BY BAGLIONI HOTELS, FLORENCE
VIBE: Frescoed Florentine mansion
Reopening this month, featuring original frescoed ceilings and lavishly furnished interiors this (just-renovated) 18th-century mansion, is one of Florence’s most intimate and historic hotels, with just 24 rooms. It’s in the lively arts district of Santa Croce, due passi from the home of Michelangelo and cultural landmarks such as the Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, and the Uffizi Gallery. Two restaurants: Guelfi e Ghibellini serve Tuscan specialities, while the three-Michelin starred Enoteca Pinchiorri serves haute cuisine. Other experiences that can be arranged include a hot air balloon tour over the Tuscan landscape or a private concert in the hotel’s wood-beamed music room; www.baglionihotels.com.
8. HOTEL SPLENDIDE ROYAL ROMA
VIBE: Historic hot spot
Established within an historic estate dating back to the 1800s, the recently renovated Hotel Splendide Royal Roma is steps away from the world-famous Via Veneto, and the Villa Borghese Gardens. As such the hotel offers access to the very best cultural, culinary and shopping experiences in Rome. A must is a cocktail in the Adele lounge which offers spectacular views; www.splendideroyal.com.
9. THE ROME EDITION
VIBE: Entertainment playground
Housed within a historical building designed by Cesare Pascoletti and Marcello Piacentini, the Rome Edition will mark the brand’s debut in Italy when it opens on May 1. The property will feature 93 rooms and suites, including two penthouses each with a private terrace. There will be a signature restaurant with an outdoor dining space; the Punch Room Bar for cocktails; and a rooftop terrace. There are also plans for a rooftop swimming pool, a spacious high-tech gym, and two treatment rooms. It’s centrally located near Via Veneto and Bernini’s Tritone Fountain in Piazza Barberini, and a short walk from key sights such as the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Borghese Gardens and Gallery; www.editionhotels.com.
10. BULGARI ROME
VIBE: Seductive gem
It’s a milestone year for Bulgari, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Serpenti icon. It first appeared in 1948 in the form of stylish bracelet-watches crafted with the famous tubogas technique that became an instant success. Seducing and adorning the most quintessential actresses in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Elizabeth Taylor, it quickly became one of Bulgari’s most desirable and recognisable signs, which over the years has been able to renew and evolve itself in an unstoppable and fascinating metamorphosis that continues to the present day. Also on the horizon, Bulgari’s new Rome hotel, housed in a 1930s building in the decidedly chic Campo Marzio neighbourhood. Designed by Italian studio Citterio Viel – think muted colours, seductive lighting, huge bedrooms and intimate dining – the hotel will offer 100 rooms and suites, a restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito and a library devoted to the history of jewellery. If guests are inspired, helpfully there is a Bulgari store just around the corner; www.bulgarihotels.com.