It should come as no surprise that villas in Italy are among the most luxurious in the world. After all, Italians pretty much invented the concept of the villa, with the first villas being the vacation homes of Roman patricians in places like the Amalfi Coast, the ruins of which can still be visited today.
The concept of the villa as a country home grew further in the Renaissance era, starting first with the Medici villas in Tuscany and eventually expanding throughout the rest of the country.
By the 18th century, beautiful Baroque palazzos were being built across Italy, most notably in Lake Como. The style may have changed, but the intention remained the same – escape from city life into the beauty of the countryside, preferably in a self-sufficient home.
Today, many of Italy’s most luxurious villas harken back to this history. They’ve often been passed down and lovingly maintained across generations, bearing all the antiques and art that testify to this rich heritage, while still being equipped with enough modern amenities to allow for an exquisite stay.
So while the Italian aesthetic is inherently lavish, these 5 villas best reflect the delicate balance between history and modernity that constitutes true Italian luxury.
# 5: Aurora
Starting at: €9,086/night
Once the personal playground of Emperor Augustus, the island of Capri has long been associated with decadence. So much of that is due to Capri’s stunning landscapes, as well as the elaborately constructed villas that dot the island. One of the most famous is Villa Jovis, constructed by Augustus’s successor, Tiberius, and today one of the best-preserved villa ruins in Italy.
While tourism to Capri hit a lull in the Middle Ages, it resumed in the 17th Century, when Aurora was built. Since then, Aurora has remained a beautiful example of Caprian taste and distinction. It’s been lovingly maintained and restored throughout the generations, and it shows in every facet of the villa, from its art collection to its beautifully manicured gardens.
This includes a lush garden surrounding the pool, a winter garden encased in glass, and a secret garden designed for moments of quiet contemplation. Picture moving through each, the sound of the waves getting closer and closer, connecting ever deeper with the history of this villa and island. In these moments, Aurora becomes transcendent.
Starting at €12,700/night
Also from the 17th century, Galeazzo is a prime example of why Lake Como became such a villa hotspot in the 18th and 19th centuries, long before being rediscovered by the celebrities of today. It boasts the Baroque architecture that would sweep across the region, and its stately and elegant façade evokes a distinct sense of grandeur.
Step inside, and you’ll believe you’re staying in a museum. In fact, the top two floors of the main body have been designated as such in order to preserve the art, furniture, and other artifacts left by the original owner.
The opulence extends to the villa’s two lateral wings and to each of its bedrooms. Elaborate frescos, relief sculptures, parterre gardens…every detail is suitably ornate. And it’s all punctuated by its prized location at the top of the lake’s southwest corner, just across from the town of Bellagio, providing some of the best views anywhere.
Starting at €14,400/night
Tuscany is intimately associated with villas. That’s because the style of converted farmhouse made famous in this region of Italy came to represent so much of the villa ideal. Self-sufficient, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, and often adjacent to vineyards and olive fields, Tuscan villas were the pinnacle of the villa rustica.
The appeal of the Tuscan villa reached new heights in the Renaissance when Florentine nobles began constructing elaborate villas outside the city. One such example, rather infamously, is Niccolò Machiavelli, whose political treatises have become guidebooks on how to gain power.
Machiavelli’s insights allowed him to rise to prominence in Florence following the expulsion of the Medici family in the late 15th century, however, upon their return in 1512, Machiavelli was stripped of power and subsequently retired to his farm estate in Sant’Andrea in Percussina.
This villa is not that estate, but an even grander villa in the same town owned by the Machiavelli family – the aptly named Machiavelli. It is a testament to the abundance that has graced the Chianti region for centuries, especially when you consider that it was subsequently owned by the Mazzei family of winemakers.
It’s hard to find a villa with such a storied familial lineage. Parts of the villa date back to the 15th century, and its restored frescos evoke a deep appreciation for the beauty of that era. Rich tapestries combine with priceless art and more modern amenities like a Turkish bath and private gym to create a truly unique and luxurious experience that embodies Tuscan history.
Starting at €19,643
Lake Como suggests many strong associations, all of them luxurious: Baroque architecture, a blessed climate, George Clooney, and the stunning scenery of mountains emerging from a blue lake surrounded by Mediterranean flora, all seemingly carved by the hand of God.
Much of what makes Lake Como so great is also evident in Pliniana. On the southeastern corner of Lake Como, Pliniana is a lakefront villa that combines beautiful Rococo interiors, a refined, restored exterior, and plenty of modern additions to let you better enjoy the beauty of the lake – including, most notably, a glass-encased and climate-controlled indoor pool.
Beyond the stuccowork and giant French doors, you’ll find the lake itself. Sitting on its southeastern corner, Pliniana is just 5 minutes from the town of Como. Not that you really need to leave – the villa itself is entirely self-sufficient and fully staffed. It’s one of Lake Como’s most coveted villas, and one Clooney himself would envy.
Starting at €31,250/night
Starting in the 1st Century BCE, the Amalfi Coast emerged as the premiere vacation spot for Roman patricians and emperors looking for a little rest and relaxation. It’s here on the Bay of Naples that they constructed some of the world’s first, and most exquisite, vacation villas.
Syrene today continues this tradition. It is, simply put, one of the most magnificent properties you can rent, be it in Italy, Europe, or anywhere else. Walking in is an experience unto itself – you drive through a perfectly manicured garden and are greeted by an impressive, neo-classical façade. As you walk inside, you encounter countless works of art, a marble-lined dining hall, Roman statues, antique sculptures, and more. Every little detail of this villa has been thoughtfully considered and adorned with the finest materials, from the study to the library to the bathrooms.
And yet the best is still to come. Walk through the French doors out to the back and experience life-affirming views of the Bay of Naples and what is arguably Italy’s finest private garden. The garden leads to a series of 100 plant-lined steps, and as you descend them, you realize how historic this property is.
Here you’ll find a thermal pool and grotto that once belonged to Emperor Augustus’s grandson. Have a swim in the warm waters before going further east to find an ancient Roman fish-breeding pool, then continue on to the villa’s private dock. From there, the Amalfi Coast is yours to discover.
It’s one thing to visit historic sites in Sorrento. It’s another thing altogether to live history. Syrene lets you do just that.
Experience the Best Villas in Italy
For a country so closely associated with fine living, Italy’s most luxurious villas exemplify its rich history and that Italian sense of style and sophistication that you just can’t get anywhere else.
But the villas themselves are just part of the story – it’s the service that elevates an Italian villa vacation into a true luxury experience. From chef service to boat charters to private drivers, your Rental Escapes concierge transforms any Italian villa rental into a true luxury experience.
Contact Rental Escapes today to receive complimentary 5-star concierge service on these or any of our Italian villa rentals and start planning your next dream holiday.