Lusting after a villa holiday? Italy’s your perfect destination – and not just because of the range of accommodation, from luxurious pads on the shores of Lake Como to stone-clad hideaways in the Tuscan hills. The fabulous produce – think sun-ripened tomatoes and silky olive oil – for gourmet self-catering, and bountiful sights for indie exploring make Italy the perfect place to rent a home-from-home. Here’s our guide to the best.
Make like the glitterati and retreat to this Lake Como hideaway, straight off a postcard with its historic white façade and private dock. Set right on the waters, this villa is about full-throttle pampering – think chef-managed kitchen, lounger-lined pool and two private beaches, where you can sip Prosecco as you work on your tan. There’s even a helicopter pad on site; no wonder it’s a favourite spot for intimate-but-glitzy Como weddings.
Como isn’t all glamour – there are homely, laid-back pads from which to take in those priceless lake views, too. One such place is this collection of familial, mustard-painted villas, filled with wood furniture and tiled floors. With perfectly placed terraces, steps from your bed, gentle lake breezes cool you on warm nights, while on-tap water ski rentals ensure you get a dose of the waters by day. Barbecue your own dinner of fresh lake fish or, if you fancy pulling a Clooney, ask the personal concierge to sort something instead.
This isn’t just a hotel – it’s basically an entire Tuscan village, perched on a hill encircled with vines, complete with atmospheric chapel, cookery school and winery turning out perfumed local Brunello. In among the rambling grounds is Villa Gauggiole, a four-bedroom house with its own guesthouse and pool – the very picture of a luxe Tuscan manor, with fireplace, heavy draped curtains and ultra-private pergola, all wrapped up in an atmospherically aged stone exterior.
These villas – with one, two and nine bedrooms – are pinch-me beautiful, prettified with Tuscan burnt orange hues, shuttered windows and aging brickwork. The largest villa, Fontelunga, is the pick for family get-togethers, since it’s the real deal for long and lazy dinners outside, on a terrace overlooking the hills. Set by a pool fringed by lavender plants, Villa Gallo is a winner for small families, who’ll love the open plan kitchen and fireplace for cosy evenings. Villa Galletto? With that romantic sunken bathtub overlooking the countryside, it’s the ultimate retreat for couples.
Just 20 minutes north of Perugia is this stunning estate, with its rambling olive groves, gorgeous gardens and stylish farmhouse restaurant serving pigeon ragù. It is also home to atmospheric accommodation, including seven villas. The private infinity pools, gazing out on to misty hills, are reason enough to book yourself in; but the classic honey-hued stylings and loungers for sun-worshipping make it even more picturesque for an Umbrian holiday. Handily, hotel services are included, so you’ve got staff on hand to answer queries or sort out day trips.
Can’t decide between the limitless fun and facilities of a resort, and the privacy of a villa? Here’s your answer. Perched against Mediterranean blues on the north coast of Sardinia, Hotel Pitrizza draws holiday makers seeking pristine, lounger-flecked beachfront and al fresco restaurants serving barbecued fish. But as well as lovely hotel rooms there is a clutch of stunning villas, tucked among greenery, big on Sardinian marble white floors, freestanding baths and that all-important hotel perk: room service.
Secret sandy coves, coddled by green cliffs and Mediterranean waters; sun-drenched olive groves – just being on Sicily’s south coast makes you relax. But this hotel really ups the wellness ante, thanks to a thalassotherapy spa complete with mountain-facing terrace. Three villa suites, each sleeping six, are a particularly feel-good place from which to take in the full resort experience. You can study the clear Sardinian skies by telescope, and outdoor dining tables allow luxuriously long seafood lunches.
Just outside the photogenic southern port of Brindisi, Borgo Egnazia feels like an old-world Puglian village. Creamy white buildings and tufa roofs set the scene, coloured in with gardens of vibrant bougainvillea, dramatic stone archways and piazza. Around this you’ll find six magnificent villas, styled in shades of cream, with romantic four-posters dressed in floaty fabrics. There are oversized white candles, and column-lined pools flanking shaded dining areas. Despite the kitchens, given the gourmet restaurants on hand, there’s no need to cook.
If you prefer your Puglian adventure with a contemporary twist, consider the 10 villas at this hotel, west of Brindisi. Modern art and slick kitchens are part of the deal in these pads, sleeping between two and six – but the real draw is the view. From the hilltop vantage point and your private terrace, you can take in miles of unfolding vistas – waves of greens punctuated by cream stone buildings. Rough stone walls give the spa a chilled-out, natural feel, while a restaurant serves up fruity local red wines.
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