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This stunning villa was designed by the Milanese architect Alberico Barbiano di Belgioioso in an eclectic “neo-gothic” style. The important interior design theme found in the villa stems from the original family's desire to express its roots in the lumber business. They chose to highlight the woodwork, commissioning intricate “boiseries” and carved wooden ceilings. The many stunning painted ceilings and wall panels are an additional chief decorative aspect of the villa. They can be admired in all of the main floor rooms and many bedrooms.
The original furniture theme followed the neo-gothic architecture, and displays ornate and heavy pieces. A distinguished San Franciscan design firm accepted the strict rules imposed by the Italian Historic Preservation authorities and used various techniques to give the original furnishings and décor a fresher, livelier look. The designers added many elements of new furnishings, decorative objects, artwork and fabrics to make the rooms sing. In winter, three woodburning fireplaces add a warm glow to the downstairs rooms.
For many years, Lake Garda was under the control of the Venetian Republic, which left a strong impact on today's regional cooking. The chef of the villa is from Venice, and has brought with him strong aspects of that region, focusing his creative talents on the abundance of local products to create the diverse menus (fish from the lake, olives and lemons from the local gardens, cheeses and wines in the neighboring areas, game in the hills just above the lake). The bakery adds another important touch to the kitchen with its signature, artisan breads, its Northern Italian dessert specialties (with a slight Austrian flavour!) and its homemade “gelato” and “sorbetto.”
The 20 rooms and suites, the four buildings of the villa and garden buildings have been carefully designed to balance a sense of history and place with ultimate in comfort and understated luxury. Each room and suite has been given its own feeling and character, depending on its position in the villa or the garden buildings, its size, and its relationship to the lake or the gardens. Some rooms in the villa were defined by their original furnishings, wall colors and splendid painted ceilings. Others were created from two small spaces, united to create an open and airy room. Every room was given a very special bathroom, combining the elegance of marble floors and nickel-finished fixtures with the luxury of large, separate tub and showers.
Each room comes equipped with central heating and air-conditioning system, a tailor-made music system programmed with 8 different choices, a state-of-the-art video monitor connected to a 50 + channel system, a direct-dial telephone with fax/modem hook-up, an internet access and a magnetic “key” attached to the traditional house key to allow exit and entry to the property's automatic gates. The rooms and suites all have spectacular views of the lake, the mountains above Gargnano, the gardens, the park or a combination of several areas.
The kitchen of the villa recalls the atmosphere of a country house kitchen of the last century with all the modern amenities for your convenience.
A dining room service staff, reminiscent of a turn-of-the-century household staff, offers service throughout the different meal times in the villa's main dining room (24 seats), on the open-air dining terrace overlooking the lake (22 seats), in the private dining room (14 seats), in guest rooms, by the pool, or just about anywhere on the property!
Cocktails, teas, coffees and light snacks are served in the “Soggiorno,” “Bob's Bar” (card room) and on the Veranda, all of which face the lake. From time to time, a pianist will offer guests jazz interludes on the Bösendorfer piano in the “Soggiorno.” A small, distinctive library holds a wide array of books and magazines for guest's enjoyment, and serves as a small “screening room” for classic and art films.
The elegant dining room on the main floor, which recreates the former family dining room, seats up to 14 people for dinner parties, luncheons and small, very private, conference activities.
The villa's well-stocked wine cellar stores a wide selection of regional wines, along with some of Italy's most famous ones. The room also serves as an intimate space for dinner and wine tasting up to 8 people.
This year, the villa is hosting a “star chef” series of Sunday night dinners in the quieter months (February/March/April and October/November) with stars of the Italian cooking scene. The menus for the dinners will feature the wines from prestigious wine makers around Tuscany, Veneto and Lombardia.
About the park and gardens: history, restoration and lighting - The park was originally a showcase for the family's large forest holdings, balanced to offer a formal aspect on the south side of the villa and a rustic aspect on the north side. It held many species of rare and exotic trees and plants, along with the more local samples of olive and lemon trees. Today, the park and the gardens have been given a new lease on life with many original plants and trees thriving again, a new collection of plants starting to bring back colour and texture to many parts of the park, dozens of new palms and cypress trees bringing back the sense of late nineteenth century “exoticism,” thousands of perennials, annuals and “vintage” rosebushes all around and an English-style croquet green adding a final touch of Victorian whimsy to the landscape.
The sense of the exotic is brought forward in one, final dramatic element: the swimming pool. The cool, inviting garden feature, located on the north lawn of the villa is designed to fit into the green elements of the landscape (lawn, shrubbery, palm trees) by using green and black Bali stone tiles and a green/grey granite border. The long and narrow pool will be surrounded by a specially designed lawn set with teak lounge chairs facing the lake, and offers guests another experience of the villa.
Beyond the stunning architectural and design elements, the villa services include personal valet service, arrangements for airport and train station transfers, possibilities to charter a vintage “salon boat” (