It's been almost 6 months since we visited Italy for our annual anniversary trip and I'm still dreaming about our days spent at Villa Rocca Matilde (aka Villa Lauro) in the Guardian's Tower.
This simply magical tower was painstakingly restored by it's owners to be a modern day rental retreat while they continue the even more arduous and lengthy renovation of the Villa Rocca Matilde (also known as Villa Lauro) Estate.
The tower set directly within the gates of the property's estate is perched on top of the cliffs of the Gulf of Naples with views of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento, and Capri. As a guest you have the entire building to yourself. It's three floors of history spiraling up an octagonal tower. On the top floor, 3 of the 8 sides have large windows that open up to give you a almost a full 360 degree view of the surrounding property. The best and most spectacular part of the your stay is waking up to the southern view overlooking the sea just beyond the foot of your bed. Words cannot describe how amazing it is! Two mornings in a row I made a point to wake up early enough to watch the sunrise over Mount Vesuvius and to watch the fisherman as they worked at dawn.
The property comes with a storied history representing some of the greatest wealth in Italy - surprisingly mostly from English families. From wikipedia:
The villa stands on the ruins of the 17th century palace of Orazio d'Acunto. The first owner was the English Luisa Dillon who acquired the ownership of the land in 1842 and named the villa after her first daughter: "Rocca Matilde". The villa was passed down to another Englishman, George Wightwick Rendel, who carried out the important restoration work on the complex, giving it its current appearance. In March 1882 he was a guest of the illustrious "Giuseppe Garibaldi" and his family.
In the 20th century, the villa passed to another Anglo-Saxon: the owner Willialm Peirce, of Irish descent, who had further embellishments done in the furnishings and decorations. The last owner was the owner Achille Lauro, whom at one point was the mayor of Naples, from whom derives the name with which the building is popularly known (Villa Lauro). Later abandoned, the current owners were the last to acquire it.
Another fun part of the experience is the ability to wander the grounds that have been left to their own since the 1990s, according to the property manager. While the historical landmark permitting process delays renovations, the grounds are literally deteriorating. It's a little sad to see such a wonderful place fall to ruin of what seems to be because of politics and red-tape. On the other hand it's quite special to be able to experience such a real world, Beauty and the Beast meets Secret Garden Castle. With so many decorative details in this amazing setting it's hard not to dream a little. We really wished we could go in side the main villa, but someday we plan to return to the estate when it has finished renovations and is the luxury hotel and resort that they're hoping it will become. Rental details at the end of this post.
A few small details to note about this incredible place. 1) the floor tiles throughout the tower were pulled from the main villa and re-purposed. 2) the staircase in the other tower flanked with dragons at the entrance is one of the original entrances and is certified as a structure of significance dating from the original building of the estate. 3) The property has changed hands many times, to some of the wealthiest families of Naples and Italy. One of the last owners, the Pierce family in the 20th century added all the decorative details. See below for corresponding images.
1 . Floor Tiles by Room
2. Preserved Staircase
3. Decorative Details
In Part 2 I will post more images of the interiors of this property.
This property can be found on multiple sites. We booked it through Airbnb.com. The host Antonio, is extremely friendly and knowledgable about the area. I wouldn't say it's expensive. However during the high season the rates to tick up to about $300/night, but for the property and the experience it's worth it. Also through doing research for this post, I stumbled upon an instagram image of the interior of the villa in October of 2017, from Caroline de Maigret's blog. Apparently, Chanel rented the large villa to use for a launch party for the latest Spring/Summer 2018 beauty collection conceived by Lucia Pica. I've included a few snaps from the event that I found through the hashtag #villalauro and #chanelneapolis
I will admit, I wish we had stayed in town for at least one more night to have a chance to experience Posillipo better. I would compare it to the Hamptons of Naples. Naples wasn't my favorite, as many people agree. We went downtown for a day to visit the city, eat the famous pizza of Michel's, and ate dinner along the water with friends we had met on our trip. We did use this place as our home-base for exploring Amalfi and I wouldn't recommend doing that to people who are not brave with driving overseas. Jack and I would contend that Naples is the most dangerous and scary city to drive in. However, if you have a strong stomach for anxiety ridden driving, Amalfi is only about an hour's drive. Or you could take the ferries to Pompei, Sorrento and Capri from the center of Naples.
I would love to hear if any of you ever stay here!