luxe - Byblos, Verona
Written by Erica Firpo
Classic elegance and contemporary art meet in the redolent, green countryside of Verona
If the traditional Italian villa is a careful balance of sophistication and creativity, then Byblos Hotel Art Villa Amistà is the ideal. With striking 16th-century architecture and 21st-century interiors, the 60-room Villa Amistà revels in the playful combination of new baroque and avant-garde. With free artistic rein, architect and designer Alessandro Mendini curated each of the villas rooms as individual works of art.
Villa Amistàs original embellishments and decoration have been restored to create a backdrop to the Facchini familys collection of contemporary art and design. Displayed throughout the hotel, and incorporated into all of its rooms, are pieces by world-renowned artists and designers including Marina Abramovic, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Sol LeWitt, Gio Ponti, and Philippe Starck. Mendinis colourful imagination was also inspired by the familys collection of Peter Halley paintings. Peters Bar – open for lunch and aperitifs – is a celebration of Halleys bright colours and abstract shapes, which complement the artists painting hanging on its walls. Additional dining options include the Atelier restaurant and Giardino dinverno (winter garden).
In a hamlet just 20 km from Verona, Villa Amistà is in the heart of Valpolicella, a region of rolling green hills. If you prefer a taste of nature to the villas 400-plus labels in its 15th-century wine cellar, a walk through the five acres of Villa Amistàs park and garden will whet your appetite for inspiration. For those seeking a more hands-on tranquillity, the spa treatments at Espace Byblos are luxuriously relaxing.
The Valpolicella region is best known for its wines, including the potent Amarone and eponymous Valpolicella, and it is also steeped in architectural history ready for a days exploration. Within an hours drive is the prehistoric Bridge of Veja, in Lessina National Park. The enormous natural rock arch was Dantes inspiration for Malebolge in The Divine Comedy. Tiny medieval towns such as SantAmbrogio di Valpolicella and San Pietro in Cariano pepper the hills and are a few minutes drive from Villa Amistà.