“A beautifully restored 17th century palazzo offering glamorpuss rooms and gastronomy in the wine hills of Monferrato”
The 14 rooms and suites come in a range of sizes, but each has a different personality; all individually designed around the villas’s original features, and each a labour of love.
Nicola is the designer in the house and she clearly relished the job, trawling antique shops and local markets for the curios and beautiful textiles, the clay pots, Rococo mirrors and unusual one-off pieces of exotic and period furniture that have been used to create a variety of different styles. In her “French Quarter” in the main house, the rooms are all whitewash, creams, dove grey, silver, faded damask and pale painted furniture; others are down-to-earth Italian, furnished with warm wood, terracotta and wrought iron. Some have high vaulted ceilings or bare brick walls; all are light and spacious with interesting beds, quirky details and great views.
We loved one of the Deluxe Doubles with its own front door (and giant iron key) off the garden, travertine floors and a contemporary four-poster bed, draped in wispy white muslin and dressed with a luxurious faux fur throw. The walls are all white, other than a fragment of preserved 1800s fresco; French windows open onto a generous terrace (shared with the Suite next door), and carved doors lead into a large bathroom. The Penthouse, the villa’s original master bedroom, is another stunner - furnished with antique floor tiles, a romantic roll-top tub and a balcony with views of the rose garden. The Junior Suite and Granary Suite are romantic and ideal for cosying up in.
Most of the bathrooms are big and gorgeous, many have large wet-room showers; all have windows with the exception of the rustic Single Room (or, as Nicola calls it, the “emergency double”).
All rooms are supplied with local, hand-made olive-oil soap, generous bottles of Verde shampoo and bath/shower gel, heavy white towels, fluffy bathrobes and posies of flowers. All come with a minibar fridge and hot drinks tray (if you want fresh of milk, just ask).
The hotel’s restaurant - La Vie - is an informal guests-only dining room, with views of the garden and pool, offering a simple daily 3-course table d’hote menu. Prepared by Ian Simpson, Tilda Chef of the Year 2014, a typical meal might include a red prawn ravioli with a prosecco sauce, porcini risotto, ragu of wild boar with root vegetables and roast garlic polenta, followed by vanilla pannacotta with Moscato-drenched berries. Dishes vary according to the season, and all are served with a selection of Piedmontese wines.
Breakfast is served in a garden room by the bar, where doors open out onto a terrace (you can eat outside on fine days); expect fresh fruit, cereals, breads, pastries and preserves, hams, cheeses and eggs to order.
If you fancy eating out, a comprehensive list of local restaurants (all tried and tested by the Nortons) is provided in the room. You can, for example, do fine dining at San Marco, a Michelin 1 Star in Canelli (25 mins from La Villa), or cheap and cheerful at Mistral in nearby Bazzana (5 mins). Eat out every day for a week and wouldn’t get through them all.