” The Palazzo Margerita for me is a dream come true ”
Francis Ford Coppola
American film director, producer and screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola has been widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood’s most innovative and influential film directors who emerged in the early 1970s with unconventional ideas that challenged contemporary film-making.
His directorial fame escalated with the release of The Godfather (1972), a film which revolutionized movie-making in the gangster genre, earning praise from critics and public alike. It won three Academy Awards, including his second, for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was instrumental in cementing his position as a prominent American film director. Follows with critically successful sequel the highly praised film, The Godfather Part II in 1974) that won him three Academy Awards—for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.
And last week just on time for the 2012 Accademy Award Francis Coppola has finished directing another type of project ; this one my friends not only you will be able to watch , but also touch and taste in real life.
This coming August in Bernalda, a small hilltop town near the Ionian Sea in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy famous for its ancient cave dwellings, historic houses and unspoiled villages, just twenty minutes from numerous pristine, white-sand beaches Coppola’s transformed Opera Prima, Palazzo Margerita will open his doors to a 9 room Belle -Epoque Style Boutique -Hotel grandiosely designed by French interior designer Jaques Grange.
The true 19th century Palazzo was originally owned by the Margherita family. The town was the birthplace and home to Agostino Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather, who always referred to it affectionately as “Bernalda bella.” Francis purchased the Palazzo in 2004 with the desire to transform it into a small, luxurious hotel, believing it was time to introduce visitors to this stunning and still undiscovered region.
Goes without saying that like in a movie, the director presence is found in every single details from the selection of china, linen , flower vases and the reinvention of local to’ Mafia Style “ cuisine .
The surrounding countryside, which was settled by the Greeks before the Roman era, is part of the Hellenic Magna Graecia—the coastal areas of Southern Italy—where the thriving local agriculture produces sumptuous fruits and vegetables, as well as the Aglianico grapes used to make wines of the same name. Nestled between the ancient cities of Metapontum and Matera, the area is rich with history, including haunting primordial cave dwellings called Sassi di Matera (meaning “stones of Matera”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palazzo has been completely restored by Francis Coppola and acclaimed French designer Jacques Grange, creating a luxurious, authentically Italian experience that ushers guests into a private world of palatial comfort, surrounded by gardens, courtyard and swimming pool, all just steps from a small, bustling town in which the visitor is a friend and neighbor rather than a tourist.
Francis wanted the Palazzo to become a place that his children would want to visit again and again, and therefore invited the whole family to contribute ideas to the design. The interior is styled with tiled floors as well as Moroccan and Baroque-inspired hand-painted fresco ceilings. Grange designed some of the exotic tiles and furniture, including one of the most beautiful suites, which is in a Tunisian style to honor Francis Coppola’s Tunisian-born grandmother. All of the floors in the Palazzo have been restored from the original marble.
Among the beautiful suites I have picked two as are my favorite suites: Suite 4 ,” Sofia ” ( my second name) has inspiration from Sofia Coppola; its mood is delicate and feminine, with hand-painted frescos evoking a misty summer garden at dawn. A Juliette balcony off the bedroom overlooks the courtyard and the palatial bathroom has a steam shower with a clawfoot bathtub. French doors from the bathroom and bedroom lead to a fully-furnished private terrace that offers a magical view of the garden and fountain. King-sized bed. the size is 670 square feet .
The second is suite 9, ” Francis” Integrates subtle elements of Tunisian design—a historical influence in Southern Italy—this picturesque suite has a fully-furnished shared terrace overlooking the garden and courtyard. The style is intended to honor Francis’s Tunisian-born grandmother, Maria Zasa. A striking tiled fireplace and an anteroom with a large writing desk add to the regal splendor of this suite. A luxurious bathroom includes a clawfoot bathtub and separate shower.
Walls and high ceilings feature beautifully restored painting and frescos. the size is 800 square feet.
Obviously amenities are everything Italy can offer and more, and with Mr coppola in the house film screening and appropriate technology is a must! State-of-the-art Loewe High Definition 3D television, Blu-Ray/DVD player/Apple T, Vast digital movie collection specializing in Italian Cinema, Loewe iPod docking music station Complimentary high speed Wi-F, Bath products by Santa Maria Novella, Bicycles and bike tours are also available to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The dining experience at the Palazzo is quite unique but most of all authentic. The In kitchen is always open and meals are tailored to your preference. Guests can enjoy traditional Southern Italian cooking or a delicious casual meal served in our eat-in kitchen prepared by Filomena and Enza, the Cinecittà Bar, the Salon, or beside the swimming pool. Romantic courtyard and garden dining as well as in-room service are also available throughout the day. Guests who dine with us are invited to join a cooking class during the day, in which our cooks will show how to make that evening’s dinner.
Tonight I am busy watching the Oscars in New York, but tomorrow by bags will be packed. I am going for a long stay in Italy, who knows I might find the movie director offering me a drink?
The Hotel : Palazzo Margerita
Other Coppola’s Hotels: Coppola’s Resorts
Photos Courtesy: Palazzo Margherita