Belmond Reveals What’s New at the Luxury Brand’s Hotels in Italy
While Italy is a perennial favorite for American vacationers, this year brings new experiences and cultural events that beckon new visitors. In Venice, don’t miss Peggy Guggenheim Museum’s first large-scale international loan exhibition, “Surrealism and Magic.” And if your clients’ travels take them to the Amalfi Coast, you can organize a side trip to the sister island of Procida—a short ferry from Naples—which was dubbed Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022.
Filtered through the lens of luxury hotel company Belmond, visitors will experience the wonders of a European summer like never before. Drift along the Italian Riviera in a traditional gozzo fishing boat, tour new art exhibitions in Venice and Tuscany, and indulge in a host of new culinary experiences in Florence and Ravello. Access is everything and guests of Belmond get front-row seats to these region’s most spectacular landscapes, experiences, and attractions.
After seven years at Noma in Copenhagen, Chef Riccardo Canella is returning to his homeland to take the reins at Cipriani in Venice, where he will design new concepts for the hotel’s famed Ristorante Oro, plus oversee Cip’s Club, Porticciolo and Bar Gabbiano. Meanwhile, Chef Critoforo Trapani—who won a Michelin star at the Magnolia Restaurant of the Hotel Byron in Forte dei Marmi—has been appointed as the executive chef at Caruso on the Amalfi Coast, where his menus will incorporate native products in a nod to his regional roots. At Florence’s Villa San Michele, Chef Alessandro Cozzolino has dreamed up an intimate eight-table dining experience at La Loggia restaurant, while at Grand Hotel Timeo, guests can dine on water’s edge at a new pop-up restaurant with an elaborate menu by Sicilian Executive Chef Agostino D’Angelo.
This year Belmond is partnering with internationally acclaimed art gallery Galleria Continua on an exclusive project, entitled MITICO, which will kick off during the Venice Biennale (April 19-22). This project represents the beginning of Belmond’s participation in Venice’s world-renowned artistic and cultural programming. Each of the four participating artists will install works in landmarked Belmond gardens across Italy—beginning with Indian artist Subodh Gupta’s “Cooking the World” installation in Cipriani’s Casanova gardens during the Venice Biennale. In May, three major installations will be revealed: Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich’s “Window & Ladder” at Tuscany’s Villa San Michele; Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto’s “Accarezzare Gli Alberi” (L’Etrusco) at Castello di Casole; and a garden installation by Cameroonian artist Pascal Marthine Tayou in Sicily’s Grand Hotel Timeo.
Back for a second season are Belmond’s Curiosity Circles, in which experts from diverse cultural disciplines collaborate with Belmond on unique experiences that speak to the portfolio’s history and heritage. At Caruso, guests can dive into the glories of antiquity with a tour of a 12th-century historic palace and a private visit of the ruins of Herculaneum and Oplontis—all guided by third-generation jewelers from the Busatti family. At Grand Hotel Timeo, the Noto Segreta experience combines tours of noble residences, tastes of Sicilian cuisine and immersion in Baroque architecture. Finally, at Villa Sant’Andrea and Castello di Casole, guests can learn about the art of winemaking by wine connoisseur Tom Harrow, who will lead tastings and tours through the area’s most renowned wineries. Here’s what’s going on at each Belmond property in Italy:
Splendido Mare, Portofino: Following a complete restoration introduced last summer, Splendido Mare (pictured above) is the epitome of Italian glamor, with a picturesque location overlooking the yacht-filled harbor and 14 rooms filled with Ulrich Guglielmo armchairs, Carrara marble surfaces and works by Italian painter Gabriele Cappelli. Off-property, guests can walk in the footsteps of aristocrats and artists, including Peter Paul Rubens by touring two private palaces that date back to the 16th century.
Splendido, Portofino: Just steps away is Splendido, a Portofino icon housed inside a 16th-century monastery. Take a motorboat to the secluded bay of San Fruttuoso or drift along tranquil waters on traditional gozzo fishing boats, exploring secret coves and hidden bays. At the vineyard of La Portofinese—the only vineyard in Portofino with views of the Ligurian Sea—walk through sloping vines while tasting local grape varieties like Vermentino and Bianchetta Genovese.
Cipriani, Venice: At the city’s most iconic property, guests will have access to exclusive experiences that will deepen their perspectives and whisk them away from the crowds. During tours of the Fondazione Cini Library and the 13th-century Library San Francesco della Vigna, rare books and preserved manuscripts will be on exclusive display for Belmond guests. Meanwhile, at the tiny island of Giudecca, guests will tour medieval pharmacies, visit an authentic gondola boatyard, and meet one of the last “moecante” (soft-shelled green crab) fishing families.
Caruso, Ravello: An 11th-century palace set on a cliff’s edge 1,000 feet above sea level, this property features all the worldly luxuries anyone could desire—paintings by old masters, marble-clad hallways, a pool that appears to drop into the sea below. Go beyond the usual tourist sites and enjoy exclusive access to secret underground networks deep below the historic town where your clients will discover archeological treasures from Roman times.
Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina: A private home reborn as a lush tropical paradise, this hotel is located in the seaside commune of Taormina on Sicily’s east coast, where it offers commanding views of Mount Etna, Naxos Bay and beyond. Guests can go on a private tour of artist Sergio Fiorentino’s private atelier, head to a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna for lunch and a tasting or see the sights from above on a helicopter tour.
Villa Sant’Andrea, Taormina: Set on a craggy coastline on the secluded Bay of Mazzaro, Villa Sant’Andrea has been dazzling visitors since the 1950s. Your clients can catch a show at the ancient Greek Theater with Mount Etna as the backdrop, or sail along the Sicilian coast to the charming town of Aci Trezza to meet members of the Rodolico family, who have been building handcrafted boats since 1908. For further local immersion, they can spend an afternoon with a fisherman and enjoy lunch inside his home overlooking the Messina Strait.
Villa San Michele, Florence: Villa San Michele is a former medieval monastery nestled in the Fiesole hills whose 15th-century façade is attributed to Michelangelo. Guests can meet local makers and craftsmen who are powering Florence’s New Renaissance, enjoy a private visit to the Zeffirelli Museum where they will be personally greeted by the family, and end the day with a meditation session in a tranquil corner of the Leonardo woodland.
Castello di Casole, Tuscany: This 4,200-acre property is one of the largest private estates in Italy, located in Tuscany’s geographical center between Siena and Florence. A former castle dating back to the 10th century, it has changed hands from Italian aristocratic family to acclaimed cinematographer Luchino Visconti before joining the Belmond portfolio. Highlights am alfresco dining option at the Enchanted Table, a floating table situated underneath the same tree where Visconti used to conjure up his next film.