Sir Winston Churchill painted it and D. H. Lawrence wrote about it - the beautiful village of Gargnano on Lake Garda in Northern Italy. It's also the location of The Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli, built by the family that gives the house its name as a summer escape in 1892. Since then it has been admired by artists and statesmen alike and is now one of the most luxurious hotels in Italy.
In 1997 Bob Burns, the founder of Regent International Hotels, bought the Villa and offered it to international travellers to experience. Design teams from around the world were consulted about its stylistic features and no expense was spared to raise the standard of restored antique furniture and the smallest architectural features.
The Villa's chef focuses his talents and creativity on the abundance of local food and specialities. The wine cellar features both regional wines and some of the country's most celebrated villages. In the bedrooms spacious en-suite bathrooms offer heated marble floors, English nickel-plated brass fittings and Acqua di Parma bath products.
The historic park gardens with its 100-year old trees has been carefully restored in the classic Italian style with its own olive grove and tiered lemon garden. The swimming pool is tiled in green-grey granite and fits easily into the garden layout.
Bob's Boathouse; Guests may enjoy a personal tour of magnificent Lake Garda in the Villa's own boat, "La Contessa." Designed by Pamela Babey and commissioned by the Villa in a local shipyard, this 16-metre pleasure craft is Lake Garda's largest privately owned boat. With its wood paneled salon, "La Contessa" harkens back to a classic 1920's American riverboat, and is always available to shuttle guests to and from lakeside restaurants or for private hire.
Bob's Bar; For those who enjoy a before or after dinner drink and a smoke, there is Bob's Bar. A uniquely shaped octagonal room with floor-to-ceiling windows, this intimate nook showcases a collection of Hawaiian and Asian artifacts reflecting Bob Burns' years as a hotelier in both areas. Guests are invited to enjoy a game of chess or cocktails, served in vintage 1950's Italian glasses and shakers discovered at a local market.
Other local attractions -
Once the private estate of Italian poet and military adventurer, Gabriele D'Annunzio, this villa is notable for its Italian Art Deco interior.
San Michele Hike
Splendid views await at the end of the scenic path, which begins at the edge of Lake Garda in Gardone Rivera and follows a gently sloping 3-mile hill leading into the charming village of San Michele.
A city dating back to the time of the ancient Romans, Verona, the setting for Shakespeare's immortal romance, "Romeo and Juliet", is one of the jewels of the Veneto. Located 45 minutes east of the Villa by car, Verona offers over a thousand years of architectural treasures including a functioning ancient Roman theater, restored Renaissance palazzo and lovely Italian gardens. Annual opera and Shakespeare festivals are popular attractions during the summer months.
For more information on the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli please visit www.villafeltrinelli.com.
Photos: Villa Feltrinelli / F.dV.
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