I’m very excited about Francis Ford Coppola’s latest addition to his expanding stable of award-winning resorts. Opening this week, Palazzo Margherita, situated in the beautiful town of Bernalda in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy, looks set to be another superbly stylish, tranquil and eco-friendly getaway, and one which characteristically reflects the director’s rather fine eye for detail.
Whenever I visit one of Francis’s resorts, I am always hugely impressed by his obsessive attention to detail, humour (think conch phones at Blancaneaux, his resort in Belize for instance) and his imaginative displays of work from local artists which creates such a unique ambience. Many times I’ve stayed in the most oppulent, and yet over stylized hotel, with no sense of character that could be literally anywhere in the world. With Francis’s resorts, you always know exactly where you are. Take for example La Lancha in the Guatemalan jungle. The casitas are painted in plain white, providing a perfect background for the riot of colour supplied by the native art furnishings and lashings of glossy natural wood. It would be easy for Francis to leave the decor to a team of designers, but he never does. Together with his wife Elena, they’re very much a hands on team and regularly visit local markets and artisan studios to personally select art and fabrics. The result is more home than hotel.
Here, the 19th century palazzo, built in 1892 has been completely renovated in partnership with acclaimed French designer Jacques Grange and as one can expect, offers a luxurious yet authentic Italian experience just steps away from the charming town of Bernalda (birthplace of Francis’s grandfather Agostino Coppola). The interior is styled with tiled floors and hand-painted fresco ceilings with a taste of Moroccan and Baroque flair. All the floors have been restored from the original marble with additional craftsmanship provided by painters and artisans in the region. The rooms are sequestered around an inner courtyard that opens into a world of private gardens and a secluded swimming pool. The intimate resort has just seven large suites and two garden rooms, all with fresco ceilings, palatial bathrooms and many feature a large terrace or juliette balcony. Francis describes it as his “painted palace.”
Food is always a big deal at a Coppola resort and Palazzo Margherita is no different. Inspired by the regional Italian cuisine, and prepared by chefs versed in the traditions of home cooking: hand-made pasta, local game and fish from the nearby coast. For foodies and cooks, there’s even an opportunity to sit around the large farmhouse table and participate in a daily class given by the chefs, demonstrating how to prepare typical regional dishes.
Spa services are also available for those in need of a little pampering and in the evenings, the Palazzo’s salon becomes a private screening theatre where guests can enjoy one of Francis’s personally curated collection of 300 classic Italian films and documentaries.
I can’t wait to visit!
For further information please visit: www.palazzomargherita.com
For further information on the other Coppola resorts please visit: www.coppolaresorts.com
All images by Palazzo Margherita.