Italian oasis

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2012, 12:00am


As the director of The Godfather movies, Francis Ford Coppola (top right) needs no introduction to movie buffs. But his role in the luxury property market is also winning fans. The latest addition to his stable of hotels is Palazzo Margherita in southern Italy, a 19th century villa and his first hotel in Europe (he already has boutique hotels in Buenos Aires, Belize, and Guatemala, as well as wineries in the Californian regions of Napa and Sonoma). Nestled in the town of Bernalda - the birthplace of Coppola's grandfather, Agostino - the hotel was originally built in 1892, but has seen its interiors completely renovated by French interior designer Jacques Grange. It is decorated with hand-painted fresco ceilings in Baroque style, furniture designed by Grange and marble flooring. A courtyard at its centre opens onto secluded gardens with semi-tropical plants, a magnificent fountain and a swimming pool. With just nine palatial bedrooms and suites, most with a terrace or balcony, the resort is intimate and homely; the ideal setting for family and friends. In the evenings, the salon is turned into a private screening room, where guests can choose from Coppola's personal collection of more than 300 classic Italian films. Mediterranean food and local wine flows easily here. Guests can choose to dine in their own suite, at a table in the Cinecitt? Bar or even in the kitchen itself, to witness the chef's handiwork.