If every holiday has to include drama and spectacle, then it should balance it out by tranquility, peace and restrained stylish luxury. Welcome to Villa Rosmarino.
The Cinque Terre have been getting their fair share of press this year. A rather exquisite area of the Italian riviera south of Genoa, these five little villages are linked by footpaths, train and by boat, each a stunning collection of faded pastel houses cascading down the cliffs to a turquoise sea. Whew. Such is their popularity, especially in Italian August holidays, that the “authorities” have decided to limit visitor numbers. We’ve no idea how. Spikes in the road? Apparently cruise ships are the real culprits. We’re not cruising fans (to say the least) – we once tried to get a taxi to the airport at Dubrovnic at the same time as a cruise ship disgorged 2,500 people off into the town. And that was apparently a small ship.
So, we found ourselves inexplicably visiting the northern Italian coast in the middle of August. Rather than throw ourselves into the midst of the thronging beach population (no, it was never going to happen) we opted for Camogli, and Villa Rosmarino.
Camogli is on the northern side of the little hill that overlooks Portofino. It’s a riot of beautifully painted houses, decorated with false columns, windows and decorative features. Camogli is a fishing village and tourist resort located on the west side of the peninsula of Portofino, on the Golfo Paradiso at the Riviera di Levante. Further round the coast is the bay of San Fruttuoso, site of the sunken statue of Christ. The most famous village, Portofino, is more elegant that we might have thought with a marked lack of sprawling beach umbrellas and some excellent restaurants. You can even put up with the extensive range of designer jewellery shops.
Rosmarino is a wonderful example of the decorated houses. Painted in 2006 by Raffaella Stracca, it took nearly a year to complete. And it’s still immaculate. It provides six rooms, simple and very stylish in a way the Italians have mastered. A beautiful mix of historic and contemporary design that blends seamlessly, with not a detail out of place, and simply exuberant contemporary artworks. No time warp here – National Trust take note – but the historic character of the building shines through loud and clear as a perfect backdrop to the restoration. No restaurant but heavenly breakfasts and, if you can’t face moving from alongside the pool, beautifully simple lunches. Honesty bar for drinks. It’s just like being at home, with a bit more sun.
Boutique Hotel Villa Rosmarino: Simply heavenly