April 06, 2009

Sleep in style at two recently opened Italian properties—one in the city, the other in the country. In Rome's artsy Trastevere quarter, furniture and fashion designer Luisa Longo has transformed her family's 1960's villa, built around a palm-filled courtyard, into an intimate three-bedroom guesthouse, the Buonanotte Garibaldi (83 Via Garibaldi; 39-06/5833-0733; www.buonanottegaribaldi.com; doubles from $305). The inn's color-drenched rooms mix family heirlooms with Longo's own Matisse-and Kandinsky-inspired designs (bright silk bedspreads, lamps with abstract swirls), all of which are on sale in her adjoining atelier. • Just a 25-minute drive from Florence, the 50-room Castello del Nero (7 Strada Spicciano, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa; 39-055/806-470; www.castellodelnero.com; doubles from $735) reinvents the classic Italian villa. Designed by Alain Mertens (interior designer to Madonna and Sting), the 12th-century former nobleman's residence has Philippe Starck Ghost chairs set beneath family crests and frescoes, and ancient stone-framed windows hung with primary-color curtains.

Castello del Nero

More than 700 acres of rolling hills, olive groves, and grape vines surround Castello del Nero, a Tuscan castle just outside of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, a charming Italian village south of Florence. Built in the 12th century by the del Nero family, the estate references its noble heritage in all 50 rooms, each carefully restored and many with original frescoes of landscapes and Florentine flowers. Cashmere blankets and goose-down duvets are cozy in-room touches, but most guests pass the days elsewhere on the property, exploring the countryside on horseback, relaxing at the spa, or cooking with chef Giovanni Luca di Pirro during on-site Tuscan-cuisine cooking classes.

Buonanotte Garibaldi

Luisa Longo, the owner of Buonanotte Garibaldi, is a genuine Trastevere-dwelling artist; her three-room B&B, hidden behind a green gate in a wall of ivy on the Via Garibaldi, was her parents’ home. Past the entrance is a fragrant courtyard shaded by palm and orange trees; Longo’s Airedale terrier, Tinto, bounds about in greeting before disappearing, but Longo or one of her multinational staff remains available—though remarkably privacy-respecting, considering you’re in her house (the handsome boy I asked to fix my remote control turned out to be her son). The rooms are a unique mix of 19th- and 20th-century antiques, along with textiles designed by Longo herself. The Blue Room has a 645-square-foot terrace; the Chocolate Room, with its elegant Indian dhurrie and hand-painted headboard, has its own entrance off the courtyard. Breakfast is house-made tarts and jams served in the airy white dining room; evenings are about drinks in the garden, with Bach or Handel faintly audible through the French doors leading to the sitting room. In few hotels does the fantasy of being in one’s own house—one’s very chic bohemian bolt-hole, more like—shimmer so close to reality.

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