People talk a lot about bed and breakfasts, or B&Bs, but they are not often mentioned in the same breath as Italy. This is unfortunate, because while breaking from the mould of traditional B&Bs in the stuffy-chintzy British sense, Italian ones can offer something altogether more intriguing – the chance to indulge in sumptuous settings as did Italian aristocrats of yore. This is because many bed and breakfasts are found in renovated palazzos, or homes of Italian nobles. There are many of these and they can be found in regions throughout Italy, but here’s just a small sampling.
1. Antica Casa le Rondini
You don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy the many riches of sunny Tuscany. In Colle di Buggiano, a walled medieval village situated southwest of the famous spa of Montecatini Terme and between Florence and Lucca, you’ll find this charming bed and breakfast with origins that go back to the 16th century. There are only a few rooms in the rustic house, but stay in the ones on the first floor and you’ll be treated to the sight of 18th-century frescoes. Guestrooms throughout are furnished with a mix of antiques and modern accents, and breakfast is taken in the little garden.
2. Villa i Bossi
We’re still in Tuscany – and seriously, once you’re here, why would you want to leave? Certainly not if you’ve checked into the the Villa i Bossi in Arezzo. An ancient Etruscan town, Arezzo became Roman in 311 B.C. As for the villa, it was built in 1240 and has been in the Albergotti family ever since. Today, guests can stay in the main house with its high-ceilinged rooms and elegant furnishings or in one of the six more recent annex rooms. There’s also a beautiful outdoor swimming pool set between the box hedges (the namesake i bossi).
3. Dimora del Prete di Belmonte
The Molise region in southern Italy, adjacent to Abruzzo, is one of Italy’s smallest regions, and the town of Venafro there has roots that stretch back to ancient Greece. It’s home to a beautiful B&B that has been the historical home of the Del Prete di Belmonte family for the past four centuries, though there was a thorough refurbishment in 1860 and today medieval and modern décor mixes too with the Renaissance and Italian Baroque. There are four rooms, one suite and an apartment. Frescoes and fantastic antiques adorn the common areas and breakfast is served in the calm, stately garden.
4. Villa della Pergola
Gorgeous Mediterranean Sea views and a stellar location on the Italian Riviera of Liguria are big draws at the little-known Villa della Pergola, whose history is intertwined with the English who vacationed in Alassio and the vicinity in the late 19th-century. The villa’s assortment of rooms are conservatively but cheerfully decorated and as for the eclectic, turreted villa itself, it made an appearance in the early Alfred Hitchcock film The Pleasure Garden.
5. Palazzo Caravajal
The Umbrian town of Orvieto could be called one of Italy’s most atmospheric. Dramatically situated on top of a butte made of soft volcanic tuff, the town has Etruscan roots and boasts a spectacular medieval duomo. If you’re lucky enough to visit a place like Orvieto, you want to stay somewhere with a true sense of place and the 15th century Palazzo Caravajal is one place where you can do just that. There’s just one guestroom, but it exudes atmosphere with its well-preserved 18th century frescoes.