Italy’s most exclusive holiday and cookery school Villa Lucia
May 2004 will see the final completion of Villa Lucia, one of Italy’s most stunning restorations of a stately home. An estate that dates back to medieval times, as early as the year 500, has been restored and landscaped to stunning effect by utilising it’s buildings, grounds, wells and extensive water rights. In the history of the property several families have developed the existing structure, which dates back to the 16th century, when the Sbara family acquired the property, but never to such detail and splendour.
Villa Lucia located in the picture postcard village of Vorno, Tuscany will open in May after three years of extensive renovations. Three separate buildings, the main Villa, Casa Cameron and Casa Joshua are all set within a private four-acre walled garden. As with the Rhode family’s other projects their Tuscan estate will be available as an ultimate exclusive rental property, where 42 guests can enjoy five star surroundings with staff including a chef on hand at all times. Continuing the success of Terri and Mike Rhode’s luxury property portfolio of Le Mas Des Oliviers in France and Dar Liqama of Marrakech, Villa Lucia is destined to become the flagship property for the Rhode School of Cuisine.
Michelin starred chef Angela Hartnett (MENU restaurant, The Connaught, London) will be the guest chef at the Rhode School of Cuisine in Villa Lucia for a few selected weeks of 2004. Angela will also design and plan special advanced cookery school weeks for the Rhode School of Cuisine’s holidays, hosted by resident chef Giancarlo Talerico. Two fantastic new teaching areas have been created, one located in Villa Lucia’s ‘cantina’, which held the medieval kitchens and the other in the limonaia of Casa Cameron. The two kitchens can accommodate up to thirty students divided into two groups to preserve the intimate experience of the Rhode School of Cuisine. The kitchens have been restored with many traditional features such as the wood fired bread ovens, open fire rotisserie and a centuries old wine press with its wooden equipment still intact.
Uniquely, a small stream runs under Villa Lucia and can be seen through a glass slab in the stone floor of Villa Lucia’s Wine Cellar. The original medieval kitchen used this access to the stream for the ‘pescaria’, where fresh water fish were kept for dinners and banquets long ago and has been restored for further use. A small frescoed room, separating the medieval kitchen and the vaulted wine cellar, also holds an antique stone tub, which in the olden days provided the owners of the house with the exceptional luxury of a hot bath and has been restored for it’s character but no longer it’s use.
The restoration has been painstakingly slow due to the care and attention of installing modern plumbing, electricity and air conditioning while maintaining and restoring the glorious scenic frescoes in each room of the Villa to their original splendour. Third generation members of the local artist’s family that created the original paintings in the 18th century restored several of the rooms. In a fitting tribute, all the en suite bedrooms are named after some of Italy’s most famous renaissance artists with Caravaggio being the deluxe three-room master suite and Bronzino, Raphael, Michelangelo, Fra Angelico, Da Vinci, Botticelli, Giotto and Donatello designed to the highest specification. Terri Rhode has utilised her ten years of interior design expertise and sourced antiques, Tuscan silk fabrics and objects such as chandeliers, marble washbasins and carved Italian mahogany furniture from houses across Italy, giving each room it’s own unique grand design.
Each of the three properties in the estate has their own swimming pool surrounded by Tuscan stone and beautiful al fresco dining areas. In the corners of the walled garden, hidden in groves of laurel and boxwood, you can find secluded treasures such as an ancient grotto housing a stone hot tub and cheeky 18th century fountains, dedicated to the pagan god Pan. For the energetic, or to work off chef Giancarlo’s Tuscan food, there is a new synthetic grass tennis court located next to the main swimming pool.
A written description of Villa Lucia will never do it justice and it will be listed for years to come as one of Tuscany’s most beautifully restored projects. The cookery school enables everyone to sample it’s splendour and the few lucky ones quick off the mark will have the chance to live like Royals and be waited on hand and foot by booking the whole property as an exclusive rental. Villa Lucia is perfect for weddings, parties or relaxation with friends and family.
Telephone 020 7751 1000
c/o Rhode School of Cuisine
3 The Street
Surrey GU10 3DZ