New in Italy

Few enhancements are more welcome, particularly in historic cities, than brand-new, ultra-luxe hotels. While it’s wonderful to appreciate ancient venues, while sightseeing, it’s quite another sentiment to end the day in a “tired” space. These newly created jewel boxes have recently opened to welcome eager, taste-driven travelers to four venerated Italian cities: Rome, Florence, Venice and Verona. 

Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese

The 78-room Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese is located on a quiet street adjacent to the Borghese Gardens. It is in close proximity to the American Embassy and numerous fashionable boutiques along the chic Via Veneto. Iconic landmarks, such as Villa Medici, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, are also within a walkable distance. Jean-Philippe Nuel’s fresh new makeover has retained the classic bones of the former 19th-century Roman palazzo, while adding a contemporary-chic ambiance. The French architect and interior designer updated the newly refurbished ground floor public spaces with lively geometric carpets that repeat the colors and shapes of the original patterned marble floor and uses the subtlety of nature’s palette to reflect the adjacent garden landscape. 

Each of the guestrooms has a Baroque-inspired ceiling that creates the illusion of a blue sky above the signature Sofitel MyBed and the marble bathroom is outfitted with Hermès toiletries. The hotel’s Prestige Suites, some with private terraces, offer luxury amenities, including leather key card holders, monogrammed pillowcases, a choice of room fragrance and BOSE sound systems. On the top floor, rooms 701 and 702 have terraces and close-up views of the Villa Borghese; only room 702 includes a sofabed. Other rooms and suites view the 16th-century Villa Aurora, home to Caravaggio’s only ceiling painting. 

Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese
The Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese is located on a quiet streetadjacent to the Borghese Gardens. It has 78 rooms. (Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese)

Suite guests enjoy a multitude of possibilities, from touring Europe’s oldest apothecary to vintage Vespa rides to well-known movie locations. The exclusive five-night Bellissima Fashion Experience (at $7,500 per couple, per suite) connects with Italian fashion influencer, Selvaggia Capizzi, who curates a private wardrobe at classic — and newer — boutiques, including Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Marni and Margiel; Paolo Cazzaniga, son of founder Angelo Giorgio Cazzaniga, who will collaborate on a custom jewelry design; and celebrity hair and make-up stylist, Janita Helova. Travel agents can contact Manuela Rampado ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing, to learn about other bespoke experiences; she recommends booking suites three months in advance, particularly for June or July. 

The rooftop on the seventh floor is where Settimo, the destination restaurant, is located. With its indoor and outdoor lounge and dining areas, the space lures guests for its panoramic vista and bold décor, from the geometric shapes on the table tops to the patterned textiles. Executive Chef Giuseppe D’Alessio serves contemporary Roman cuisine that incorporates tradition into his signature dishes. Cocktail enthusiasts can enjoy sundowners with a view, with one of Settimo’s signature drinks which come with specially paired finger food.

Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese
Settimo is the rooftop restaurant at Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese. It offers contemporary Roman cuisine by Executive Chef Giuseppe D’Alessio. (Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese)

Agostino Sità ([email protected]), chef concierge, Les Clefs d’Or will arrange private transfers via Mercedes to and from Rome Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino (FCO, 45 minutes) or the private jet terminal at Rome Ciampino Giovan Battista Pastine (CIA, 30 minutes). The concierge can organize exclusive experiences, including food tours, with Davvero Rome; Lauren Caramico curates multiday food experiences, including markets, restaurants, wine tastings and chef-run classes or individualized street food or gelato tours. ArcheoRunning’s Hidden Rome Tour offers guided early morning runs through lesser-known historic neighborhoods; runners or walkers traverse a central piazza, ancient passages, a Renaissance palace and an ancient stadium. The concierge can also arrange hand’s-on experiences: in art galleries and museums, at a gladiator school, a gelato workshop, horseback riding or stargazing. Many guests benefit from personalized wellness and fitness therapies with the SofitelFITNESS Wellness Program in the hotel’s fitness center.

General Manager Edoardo Giuntoli ([email protected]) says, “What we’ve created is a chic fusion of the Italian La Dolce Vita heritage with modern French Art de Vivre.” 

Etra, Florence 

When Davide Miglino and his wife, co-founder Mimma Chiarini ([email protected]; mimma [email protected]) were looking for a space within historic Florence to launch their first hospitality project, their primary challenge was to find a location within easy walking distance of the Duomo Cathedral, Uffizi Galleries, Ponte Vecchio, the Palazzo Vecchio and all the exclusive shops and restaurants in the fashionable neighborhood. Because the well-connected Florentine couple knew the city so well, they had an advantage. Before accumulating real estate holdings in central Florence, Mimma’s family had a long history in the high-end gentlemen’s apparel trade, as owners of the posh Eredi Chiarini boutique. And, Davide’s career as a senior executive in Monitor Deloitte, a major multinational strategy management consulting firm, involved extensive high-end travel. Eventually, they discovered a perfectly situated, historic former bank building in Art Nouveau style, originally designed by Paciarielli, c.1903. It is a grand space with high ceilings and ceiling-high windows, with two balconies overlooking the Duomo Cathedral. With architect Daniela Bianchi, from the AMDB studio in Florence, they repurposed and transformed the entire 2,700-square-foot floor into the Signature Suite, a three-bedroom apartment-like unit, which encompasses the total space, or, when divided, into a two-bedroom, 1,400-square-foot Family Suite and/or a one-bedroom, 1,300-square-foot Presidential Suite.

The project entailed restoring the building, refiguring the space and upgrading plumbing, heating and electrical systems. They added soundproof walls and heated parquet floors, and installed high-tech amenities, such as bathroom ceilings that reflect the movement of the sun and remote-controlled lighting and temperature — via IOT — and connected to the internet. The interior design concept incorporates the minimalist theory that “only what you want to see should be visible.” To that end, the kitchen is the most iconic Norbert Wangen design for Boffi and completely hidden. The storage and televisions disappear, too, when not in use. The minimalist contemporary décor is muted in color, including the L-shape sofa in the living room designed for De Padova; the lamp designed for Fontana Arte was inspired by the Pirellone building in Milan. Paintings add an historical context, because they are inspired by Mucha, a well-known Art Nouveau artist from Czechoslovakia. Personal wellbeing items, such as the hand-made cashmere and alpaca mattresses, 1,000-thread Percale linens and Jo Malone toiletries ensure comfort. 

Davide Miglino organizes luxury transportation in a Bentley, Maserati or premium SUV and the bespoke experiences integral to Etra hospitality. His calls assure entry to the best restaurants, to haut de gamme shops on Tornabuoni street and exclusive access to private — or inner circle — venues, including a day spa (there are also on-site, spa services) and food delivery from the nearby Sophia Loren Restaurant.

Ca’ di Dio, Venice  

Ca’ di Dio
Ca’ di Dio has been restored and redesigned by internationally renowned architect, Patricia Urquiola, who created the distinctive concept of a Venetian villa deeply linked to the city’s history.  (Ca’ di Dio )

In addition to all its traditional attractions, Venice offers new ramps on bridges along the lagoon to welcome wheelchairs; a 2021 ban on cruise ships, which brought back cleaner, greener waters clear enough to see fish swim; and the newly transformed hotel within the 13th-century Ca’ di Dio ecclesiastical compound, where VIPs sleep in rooms that originally housed crusaders and pilgrims. 

Ca’ di Dio has sat among palatial mansions in a neighborhood facing the lagoon, called Arsenale, for more than eight centuries. Now, the area is the “Contemporary Art District,” due to its proximity to the Venice Biennale, the world-famous art festival and exhibition. Stroll from Ca’ di Dio in the opposite direction across the famed Bridge of Sighs towards the heart of the city, comprising St. Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, Harry’s Bar and countless shops, sights and bridges.  

General Manager Christophe F.A. Mercier ([email protected]) heads the staff at the five-star, boutique hotel, which opened in May 2021, affiliated with V Retreats. Internationally renowned architect, Patricia Urquiola, who restored and redesigned the property, created the distinctive concept of a Venetian villa deeply linked to the city’s history. The luxe interior incorporates Murano glass lamps, precious boiserie, headboards upholstered in rich textiles with decorative leather straps, windows and walls covered in matching fabric and marble-clad bathrooms. Dramatic contemporary furnishings, throughout, and decorative, architectural, and lighting elements demonstrate the expertise of artisans skilled in Venetian craftsmanship and the talents of Urquiola’s team. The 650-square-foot spa features a duo-cabine and a single cabine, a Sauna and Hamman. For special spa treatments, such as a Merchant of Venice Gold Leaf Facial or Blue Tea Treatment, contact Ms. Teodora ([email protected]), spa manager, seven days in advance.

Ca’ di Dio
The Alchemia bar in Ca’ di Dio serves classic Venetian drinks, which have been reinterpreted by the bartenders. (Ca’ di Dio)

Three upper floors house 66 accommodations, including nine Deluxe Rooms that view the landscaped courtyard. Among the 57 suites, 10 face the Venetian Lagoon across to San Giorgio Maggiore Island, which is known for its 16th-century church designed by Palladio. The hotel’s two top floor suites are its premium accommodations: The Rooftop Terrace Suite, the crown jewel of Ca’ di Dio, consists of two, subtly colored and finely furnished rooms decorated with glass, wood, wrought iron, and marble. Along with The Lagoon View Suite, it accommodates up to four guests and accesses a large private roof terrace, with panoramic views of the San Marco Basin. 

Lucrezia Lenarda ([email protected]) handles bookings and Vitaliya Kukurba ([email protected]), the front office manager, assists VIP guests and will pre-arrange a meet and greet, porter services and private wooden water taxi transfers to and from the railroad station and airport. The International Airport of Venezia Marco Polo (VCE) is eight miles from the hotel’s private hotel dock on Riva Ca’ di Dio at the side-entry door of the hotel. (VIP guests travel in a Mercedes Limo for any land transfers.) Ca’ di Dio guest assistants ([email protected]) register clients under a stunning curvilinear chandelier in the expansive living room. The staff also accesses tickets to the major sites, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and such events as the Venice Carnevale, Venice Biennale, Venice International Film Festival, Biennale Architecture, 2023, Retendore fireworks and annual Boat show. They also offer tailor-made Venetian itineraries, such as a visit to a Murano glass factory, a tour in a private yacht to the Castello District, a rowing session, a visit to an urban vineyard and vegetable garden, or travel in a traditional, small fishing boat for a botanical tour and lunch. 

Vista Palazzo Verona Hotel

Vista Palazzo Verona
Vista Palazzo Verona is a luxe boutique hotel featuring 16 accommodations.  (Vista Palazzo Verona)

Verona is a medieval Italian city located less than a hundred miles from either Milan or Venice, and about 150 miles south of Lake Como. The newly reconstructed, Vista Palazzo Verona, recently opened within a 19th-century mansion in the heart of the walking city’s medieval centro storico, just a short walk from the Arena di Verona, the city’s celebrated Roman amphitheater, c. 30 AD. It’s even closer to Juliet’s balcony, one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city. It’s been said that Verona is the city that made Shakespeare fall in love, and, judging by the number of amorous couples who pose on the balcony; the feelings he expressed about the subject surely affected others. 

The small, luxe boutique hotel is the city’s most updated; it features 16 accommodations: three Deluxe Rooms, three Junior Suites, five Suites and five Prestige Suites, with connecting doors, that are ideal for families. Some overlook the narrow and ancient street and the ancient door of the city: Antica Porta Leona. The hotel also features a salon, library, wine-tasting room, gym and an all-day penthouse restaurant, which accesses the year-round rooftop terrace, and its fabulous views.

The chic interior décor is by Milan’s Maurizio Maggi Studio Arte and incorporates historic details, including hand-hewn marquetry floors and stunning moldings, plus locally quarried marble, recently sourced from five nearby quarries. What assures comfort are great contemporary furnishings, Dedar textiles and amenities, such as lush bath towels and pure linen sheets by Rivolta Carmignani, and caring personal service.   

Vista Palazzo Verona
The Sottovoce is an all-day penthouse restaurant at Vista Palazzo Verona, which serves contemporary Italian fare. (Vista Palazzo Verona )

Spa Director Sonia Rognini ([email protected]) oversees the 538-square-foot subterranean spa. A three-hour Le Grand Soin service is a fully personalized treatment using Biologique Recherche’s organic face and body care products and takes place in the expansive couple’s suite, with its two treatment tables and a hot tub. The hotel also has Verona’s only indoor swimming pool, which showcases a dramatically lit, ancient Roman well, which was unearthed during the gut renovation. 

Lario Hotels General Manager Cristina Zucchi (011-393-396-825-330) and Vista Palazzo Resident Manager Chiara Russo deal directly with clients. Head Concierge Davide Bellamoli ([email protected]) handles the VIP services. He will arrange for meet and greet at the local train station or any of the airports: Villa Franca (20 minutes); Venezia Marco Polo Airport (1.5 hours) or Milano Bergamo (one and a half hours). As for the music lovers who flock to the Arena di Verona Festival for annual Opera Nights each summer/fall, he recommends booking room reservations and opera tickets a full year in advance. For the 2022 season, the concierge books the “Star Roof” experience, which includes first row seats at the opera and a dinner prepared by two-star Michelin Chef, Giancarlo Perbellini. Other exclusive experiences feature private visits to the Palazzo Maffei collection, which is usually only open on weekends; a boat tour on Lake Garda or a Wine Cellar tasting in Valpolicella. Luxury travel advisors can also contact Russo ([email protected]) with special requests.

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