What to do when you tire of your high-stress life as a Milanese ad exec? You buy a dilapidated turn-of-the-century villa on a scenic vista along the Riviera di Levante and transform it into an idyllic midcentury-modern haven where you and your partner can live and welcome sophisticated guests also looking to relax, of course.
Tucked away on less-trafficked slopes of Mount Portofino, above the picturesque waterfront town of Camogli, Villa Rosmarino is that Italian friend’s vacation house you’ve been dreaming of. Owners and hosts Mario and Fulvio created the kind of place where they would want to stay and then moved in permanently, opening their doors to anyone who wants to spend a few days living there, too. Because they do want it to feel like living, the living room and well-stocked library are made for curling up with a good book, while the kitchen’s well-stocked honesty bar is available for raiding at all hours. Rooms aren’t numbered, and the sprawling gardens are easy to get lost in. Hosts and guests alike lounge by the pool and sip espresso on the balcony, and Mario and Fulvio are founts of knowledge about the area and also the kind of people you’d like to stay friends with after you depart. After a few days here, leaving everything to restore your own villa starts to sound like an excellent idea.
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Half an hour’s drive or train ride south of Genoa, Camogli is just one of many picturesque fishing villages that line the Italian Riviera, but it’s less overrun with big hotels and tourists than many around Portofino. Known for its architecture—tall, colorful, traditional houses—and its excellent local cuisine, Camogli is the kind of idyllic Italian town best explored by wandering (and consulting the expertise of locals like Mario and Fulvio). Villa Rosmarino is located a 15-minute walk above the town center, on the protected slopes of Mount Portofino, itself home to numerous hiking trails, which can take adventurous day-trippers all the way to Portofino, Paraggi, and other scenic towns. The hosts can also arrange day trips on the water, such as boat excursions to hidden beaches and sights like the Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte.
Need to Know
Rooms: Six rooms. From $177. Check-in: 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; check-out: 11 a.m. Dining options: As a B&B, Villa Rosmarino doesn’t have a restaurant, but a decadent breakfast spread with everything from baked treats to yogurt and fresh fruit is included in all rates, and set out in the kitchen for guests to enjoy at the long communal table or on the sun-soaked terrace. House-made espresso is available at all hours—best enjoyed on the patio or in the library, especially when paired with a chat with one of the Milanese owners—and a well-stocked honor bar can be found in the kitchen. Spa and gym details: While the hotel lacks a full gym and spa, it does have an outdoor pool barely big enough for laps, and in-room spa treatments can be arranged.
Who it's best for: Independent travelers and romancing couples who prefer boutique elegance over traditional luxury. Our favorite rooms: Each of Villa Rosmarino’s six rooms is distinctive and luxurious in its own way. The top-floor Terrace Room affords postcard-worthy sea views from its private balcony. The admittedly spacious Large Room features foliage-flanked windows that give it a treehouse feel. Explore by boat: The Italian Riviera is all about the water, and, even though Villa Rosmarino doesn’t have all the offerings of a full-service hotel, it does have a gozzo, or traditional Ligurian teak boat, on which the owners will take guests out for cruises around the bay and to neighboring towns.