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Seven Classic Italian Hotels To Visit This Summer

The places to stay with la dolce vita aplenty

  • Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como. Photograph courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo

There are few pleasures greater than finding the perfect Italian hotel. It is a tonic for the soul. Sitting under the Puglian sun with a glass of primitivo; eating fresh focaccia in Liguria; basking in a floating pool on the edge of Lake Como – and doing it with the finest Italian service; maybe while wearing pastels and lying back and thinking of not being in England. Call it by its name: perfection. From Tuscany to Lazio and beyond, here are seven of MR PORTER’s favourites.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como

  • Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como. Photograph courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo

On Lake Como, the Belle Epoque never quite ended. Proof of that comes in the gilded surrounds of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Situated next to the exotic botanical gardens of the Villa Carlotta, the Tremezzo looks out over the centre of the lake, past its own floating swimming pool, to the village of Bellagio. You can check out anytime you like, but you probably won’t ever want to leave.

Opening its doors in 1910, and last renovated in 2014, the Tremezzo has the whiff of the Grand Tour about it. Blink at the Art Deco exterior and it’s possible to imagine the gentlemen of Europe taking in the sun before – and after – the continent turned dark with war. It has been top of the hotel tree for an age and was even namechecked by Ms Greta Garbo (a regular) in 1932’s Grand Hotel. If you get tired of the view (you won’t), or of walking around the five-acre magnolia- and azalea-tinged grounds, there are five restaurants, including the lakeside terrace, which – until his death in late 2017 – was overseen by legend of Lombard cooking Mr Gualtiero Marchesi. And if that’s not enough, try a ride on one of the hotel’s two classic boats.

What to wear

  • Ermenegildo Zegna Hemp-Piqué Polo Shirt

  • Rubinacci Mid-Length Printed Swim Shorts


       

Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino

  • Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino. Photograph courtesy of Belmond

The Splendido has been splendido since 1902 and the golden age of grand hotels. Perched up over the Portofino harbour like a bird of prey, the resort literally rolls out the red carpet at its entrance, perhaps a callback to some of its famous old guests – they’ll see your Mr Richard Burton and Mrs Elizabeth Taylor and raise you a Mr Marlon Brando and a Sir Winston Churchill.

The hotel’s location is its most attractive facet – the view down to the boats is stunning. Take them in from the hillside infinity pool; from there you’ll probably be able to spot the sister Belmond location, the beachside Splendido Mare, as you’re sipping your negroni. There’s a free shuttle bus to the beach if you prefer the view of the climb to the actual walk.

This former Benedictine monastery dates back to the 16th century; visitors in the 21st have a choice of 64 rooms plus modern suites, a cocktail lounge, pizzas at the pool and chef Mr Roberto Villa’s formal seafood restaurant Chuflay, which offers fish from that day’s catch in the Ligurian style, as well as turbot, swordfish and local prawns.

What to wear

  • Gucci Printed Cotton-Poplin Shirt

  • Prada Cotton-Twill Trousers


        

L’Andana, Tuscany

  • L’Andana, Tuscany. Photograph courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

This former Medici hunting estate, between Pisa and Florence, is the epitome of Tuscan country glamour. Set in the coastal strip of Maremma Regional Park, L’Andana will suit you whether you’re wielding kids or a seven iron on the driving range. With just 20 rooms and 13 suites, the hotel has an intimacy that means you won’t be fighting for attention from the staff – and all the better as there’s plenty to do, from cooking classes to horse riding, Nordic walking, Pilates and even a fitness boot camp.

The hotel itself is set in two buildings, the Villa and Fattoria, which have both been recently renovated by Milanese interiors maestro Mr Ettore Mocchetti. Chef Mr Enrico Bartolini oversees the food in the restaurant La Villa (think homely Tuscan cooking; fresh garganelli pasta with red mullet and local tomatoes) – but it’s the recently Michelin-starred La Trattoria Enrico Bartolini, set in an old granary, that is really worth the airfare. There are 600 wines to choose from, including ones from the adjacent vineyard Tenuta La Badiola, and the hotel grounds’ fruit and vegetable patches are used to create an experimental take on classic Tuscan food, from lobster ravioli to roasted pigeon.

What to wear

  • Bottega Veneta Garment-Dyed Cotton-Poplin Shirt

  • Valentino Valentino Garavani Logo-Detailed Leather and Webbing Sandals


        

Villa Cora, Florence

  • Villa Cora, Florence. Photograph courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

Fifteen minutes’ stroll from the Palazzo Pitti and the Ponte Vecchio, the overwhelmingly luxurious Villa Cora has its schiacciata all’olio and eats it, mixing the feel of a grand Tuscan hillside villa with close proximity to old Firenze.

The Villa was built in the 1860s – when the grand old city was still the Italian capital – by Baron Gustave Oppenheim, a wealthy German financier who helped fund the Suez Canal. It nearly suffered an untimely demise several years later, when the Baron tried to burn it down after accusing his young wife of taking a lover. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful.

A century later, Villa Cora opened as one of the old city’s best hotels, with impeccably restored original features such as a Moorish Salon with an Arabian-style dome, and a Louis XV-style Hall of Mirrors inspired by the Royal Apartments of Turin. It really is something else. On top of that there are frescoes and decorations from artists such as Mr Luigi Samoggia, and sculptures from Mr Francesco Barzaghi. Come for the interiors, stay for the trad-luxe food from executive chef Mr Alessandro Liberatore, and service not topped this side of the Arno.

What to wear

  • Incotex Beige Unstructured Linen and Cotton-Blend Blazer

  • Tod's Oiled-Suede Loafers


       

Gran Meliá, Rome

  • Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina, Rome. Photograph courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

Get close to God, or least his representatives from the Catholic church, at this Roman hideaway. The hotel sits inside the Villa Agrippina, just a stone’s throw from the Vatican and the banks of the Tiber, though we would advise only throwing stones into the latter.

Despite being so close St Peter’s Square, it’s possible to feel completely away from the city thanks to the lush acres of the hotel’s gardens. There is an outdoor pool, where you can see remnants of the old convent upon which the hotel was built, while eating snacks from the Liquid Garden bar. And this is its great attraction: it is a haven amid the bustle of Rome, a place you can retreat to after a hard day pounding the pavement of the city and genuflecting in its multifarious churches. It feels like a resort, languid and slow-paced amid the roaring energy of the capital city.

In the evenings, the Lunae Terrace offers would-be Romans a look out over the walls of the Vatican and Castel Sant’Angelo. Praise be.

What to wear

  • Aspesi Cotton-Poplin Shirt

  • Tod's Short-Length Striped Swim Shorts


        

Il San Pietro di Positano

  • Il San Pietro di Positano. Photograph courtesy Relais & Châteaux

In a 1953 edition of Harper’s Bazaar, Mr John Steinbeck wrote “when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it”. In terms of keeping the village concealed, that yacht may have sailed, but the one-time fishing village turned A-list haunt remains a jewel in the crown of the Amalfi coast.

Mr Carlo Cinque purchased land overlooking the village and the coast in 1962. What was once just rocks, trees and ruins became one of Campania’s grandest hotels. Il San Pietro opened in 1970, with Mr Cinque – aka Carlino – creating a plant-filled Eden for VIP guests such as Mr Peter O’Toole, Mr François Mitterand, Ms Barbra Streisand and the King of Jordan (that’s a dinner party we’d sit in on). Carlino died in the 1980s, but his seaside vision of luxury remains, with Il San Pietro in the hands of his niece and nephew and part of the Relais & Châteaux association (which also includes Cliveden and Mr Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in the UK).

With what it claims is the most environmentally friendly kitchen in the world, Mr Alois Vanlangenaeker’s Zass restaurant has been Michelin-starred since 2002, while the guest-only Carlino opened in 2008, offering a more informal take on seasonal food and a seaside alfresco terrace.

What to wear

  • Ermenegildo Zegna Mid-Length Printed Swim Shorts

  • Gucci Round-Frame Acetate and Gold-Tone Sunglasses


       

Aman, Venice

  • Aman Venice. Photograph courtesy of Aman

This former gran palazzo, the Palazzo Papadopoli, may have more than 400 years of history and a reputation as the finest place to stay in the Veneto but, as things stand, the first thing most people will associate it with is the wedding of human rights lawyer Ms Amal Alamuddin to Mr George Clooney in 2014. You can see why the Clooneys skipped their home cities in favour of La Serenissima when you look at what the Aman offers. Sat directly on the Grand Canal, with a hidden jetty that leads directly into the resort, it’s as close as one can get to staying in the canal. Without the flotsam.

Modern rooms are set within the hotel’s Rococo decor (there are original frescoes by Mr Giovanni Battista Tiepolo) and there’s an immaculate private garden – lest you stumble on the A-list wedding of the century and need to hide away – as well as, naturally, some of the finest Venetian cuisine. Chef Mr Dario Ossola’s restaurant Arva cooks with the local seasons, from rabbit cappelletti to saffron risotto. Aman is the perfect place to get out of sight of the bustle – and paparazzi – of Venice in the summertime.

What to wear

  • Boglioli Beige Unstructured Cotton and Linen-Blend Suit Jacket

  • Loro Piana Summer Walk Full-Grain Leather Loafers