This article is excerpted from the "101 Things We Love About Italy" cover story in the April 30, 2022, issue of Wine Spectator.
The call of la dolce vita brings millions of visitors to Italy each year, ready to explore the country’s rich art and history, the thriving wine and food culture, stunning scenery and more. Enjoying Italy is as much about the broad, bucket list items (glimpsing Venice on the horizon as you speed across the lagoon from the airport) as it is the smaller details (enjoying the hustlebustle of Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori with its stacks of fresh produce and flowers).
Sightseeing is often an all-day agenda when visiting Italy, but the accommodations at any of these nine hotels and resorts could easily become the main event instead. Soak in the dazzling views, relax amid lavish decor and enjoy first-class service at some of the most luxurious and sought-after lodgings in Italy.
The Place Firenze
Located in Florence’s Piazza Santa Maria Novella, this former residence turned boutique hotel feels more like the well-decorated home of a stylish friend than a standard check-in/check-out experience. The public spaces are quiet and gracious, the 12 rooms and eight suites are luxurious and the staff is charming.
Corte Gondina Hotel
Piedmont is a wine lover’s dream destination, complete with some reasonably priced boutique hotels. Located on the main street running through La Morra, Corte Gondina (cortegondina.it) is a go-to spot. Proprietors Bruno and Elena Viberti are gracious hosts and knowledgeable about the area. The renovated home offers 14 individual rooms, while the extensive breakfast buffet of local products is the ideal fortification before a day of cellar visits and tastings. The wine bar is cozy and a prime place to relax with one of the many on-hand wine books. With its private parking, this is a perfect base to explore the region.
As if the location—25 acres right on the lake—weren’t enough, the building dates to the 16th century, with the elegant proportions of that era. It extended that legacy from a home to a resort when it became a hotel 150 years ago. Afternoons can be spent by the floating swimming pool or on a private boat tour of the lake. After dinner, stroll through the sprawling gardens, refined over centuries.
The fabled luxury getaway for Hollywood legends like Clark Gable, Lauren Bacall and Elizabeth Taylor, this restored 16th century monastery is perched on a seaside cliff in the fishing village of Portofino. Featuring breathtaking views of the Ligurian coastline–and the Michelin-starred La Terrazza restaurant–Splendido is the ultimate splurge-worthy stay.
Tip: For a midcentury modern style taste of Splendido glamour, check out sister hotel Splendido Mare, located on the piazetta on the recently redesigned Portofino harborfront.
The G-Rough hotel is an artsy, hidden gem in a 17th-century building just off the Piazza Navona in Rome’s historic center. Walk into the inviting Gallery Bar at its entrance, enjoy the stylish Sito Room in the back (a living room area for guests) and kick back in one of 10 well-appointed suites. The suites are named after some of Italy’s most famous architects and designers, whose pieces add to the hotel’s luxurious decor, including Ico Parisi furniture, Seguso Murano glass vases and Giò Ponti tiles.
Rome Cavalieri Hotel
The Cavalieri (romecavalieri.com) is a luxurious refuge from the energy of the city center. It’s a 10-minute ride from the action, perched in a 15-acre park, with jaw-dropping views across the city. Accommodations, service, the art collection are all at the highest level—but there’s one more reason to stay: Its Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning restaurant, La Pergola, has some 3,700 wine selections, both international and Italian, and a Mediterranean menu from chef Heinz Beck that honors tradition while being thoroughly modern.
On the Costa Smeralda, with distinctive architecture that echoes Sardinia’s 8,000 nuraghi, Pitrizza’s 66 rooms include six coveted 2- or 3-bedroom villas, all with seaview pools, and one with a private beach. All guests can enjoy the hotel’s spacious rooms, pristine private beach and pool, outdoor dining and access to hiking on the Pevero Health Trail.
Belmond Hotel, Cipriani
The Cipriani is a short ride via private boat from Piazza San Marco; a welcome oasis that’s still close to attractions. A total of 96 rooms and suites fill the main building and adjoining palazzo, all with water views.
Tip: Book ahead for Oro, the gastronomic restaurant, or for a meal in the gardens.
The Gritti Palace
Housed in a 15th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, this 61-room and 21-suite hotel is one of Venice’s iconic properties. Just off the city’s tourist route to Piazza San Marco, the hotel is an oasis of lush opulence—around every corner a visual journey of colors, patterns and textures—in a calm and elegant setting.
Tip: Inquire about wine tastings, cooking classes and chef-guided market visits offered as part of the Gritti Epicurean School.