Italy's Manuel Locatelli just celebrated his Euro Cup victory at Sardinia's Hotel Pitrizza, but he wasn't the first star to choose the ultra-private luxury villas for a special getaway — and he certainly won't be the last. Here's why.

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In Europe, soccer stars are like royalty. So for an Italian resort, being the go-to vacation destination for soccer stars celebrating a career high note — a championship win — is the ultimate compliment.

But for Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel on Sardinia's elegant Costa Smeralda, hosting top athletes is just another day on the job.

Last week, Manuel Locatelli, midfielder for the Euro Cup-winning Italy national team, posted celebrations at the hotel on his Instagram account, along with girlfriend Thessa Lacovich and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. 

Even non-sportsfans who don't know Locatelli for his key goals throughout the series might know him from his viral moment sitting in the grass on the phone with Lacovich while the rest of his teammates celebrated the big victory over England together. Fans were gushing over the romantic on-field moment, but they had no idea what romance was to come for the pair on their post-game trip to Sardinia.

Hotel Pitrizza private villas aerial view
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Locatelli and Lacovich posted photos all over luxury shopping, dining, and yachting destination Porto Cervo, including at renowned waterfront seafood restaurant Quattropassi al Pescatore, where you can watch fish swim beside superyachts from your table. (Try the tagliatelle di calamaro — squid skillfully sliced as thin as pasta with bottarga and lemon — and the fritto misto for possibly the tastiest fried seafood sampler on the planet.)

Their hotel of choice, like so many stars before them, was unsurprisingly Hotel Pitrizza, known for its exceptionally private luxury villas — even more of a precious commodity now, in the age of COVID-19, as travelers seek seclusion more than ever.

Modeled after nuraghi, stone towers unique to Sardinia's ancient history, the stone villas and their grass-lined rooftops blend into the stunning seafront landscape on Sardinia's northeastern coast, as do the hotel's immaculately manicured gardens and flower-filled grounds.

The entire setting feels straight out of a dream, but once you're inside your villa, you're really in a world of your own. To sum it up in a word, as Locatelli and Lacovich did: Calma.

All six two- and three-bedroom villas come with sea-view pools, but only one, Villa Pino, includes its own private beach. It's for this reason that Pino, on-site sources say, is the most sought-after villa among Europe's rich and famous. It doesn't hurt that it also has a separate bedroom, bathroom, and mini-kitchen perfect for a bodyguard or nanny. The average daily rate in high season (July and August) is €21,000 per night.

The pool and beach at Villa Pino, Hotel Pitrizza
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel
The living room overlooking the pool at Villa Pino, Hotel Pitrizza
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Bedroom at villa Pino, Hotel Pitrizza
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The villas take full advantage of Sardinian sunshine, with dining areas, living rooms, and rain showers both indoors and out. Some villas boast a bathtub with a view, and all promise king-size beds made up with textiles hand-crafted by local artisans.

There's no need to leave your villa — of course, in rooms like this, room service is encouraged — and there's so much space for dining, you'll be tempted to call all your closest friends over for a dinner party immediately upon entry. But should you choose to enjoy the hotel's facilities beyond your villa, staff will tour you around the property via golf cart.

Nothing beats a private pool, but the hotel's main pool gets close, with its granite rock formations, thatched umbrellas, and views over Liscia di Vacca bay.

Hotel Pitrizza main pool Sardinia Italy
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The outdoor, sea-view gym is perfect for athletes looking to keep up their routines, or just travelers who need a little extra motivation to move on vacation. Above it, the stylish bar — the property's best aperitivo spot — serves cocktails that are often accompanied by music from a live pianist.

tables overlook the sea at Pitrizza Restaurant in Sardinia
Credit: Courtesy of Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Pitrizza Restaurant serves fresh seafood and traditional Sardinian pasta and meat dishes by night and barbecue by day.

Ideally situated overlooking the pool and bay, it's difficult to keep your eyes off the horizon while you eat, especially as the sky turns pink at sunset — but at Hotel Pitrizza, don't forget to look around you. You never know who could be sitting at the next table.

Nina Ruggiero is Travel + Leisure's deputy digital editor. A New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she's happiest on a beach, a cobblestone street, or in a hotel bathtub with a view. Find her on Instagram @ninamarienyc.