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“Villeggiatura is a layering of rhythms and rituals that are elegant, sometimes lazy, a mosaic of references to times gone by.”

Everyone dreams of living like the Italians: delicious cuisine, breathtaking landscapes, cultural treasures all at your fingertips.

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However, la dolce vita requires an immersion into the destination, time spent leisurely understanding the local rhythms. Belmond’s Italian properties are perfectly situated and outfitted for this exact purpose, the villeggiatura.

The panoramic living room of the Dogaressa Suite overlooks the famed St Mark’s district / Photo by Helen Cathcart, courtesy of Assouline

This term is defined as a prolonged stay in a single place, however, the concept has a deeper meaning, encompassing the ability to feel a sense of belonging in a foreign city and a platform for mental and physical regeneration.

“Above all, villeggiatura means taking your time, a luxury in today’s hectic world,” writes Cesare Cunaccia in the new Assouline book Villeggiatura: Italian Summer Vacation. “It means immersing yourself in a calm, slow-paced environment without the constraint of time—spending days or weeks in a state of reverie, letting your mind wander, allowing yourself moments of pure contemplation. It means a platform for mental and physical regeneration, a beautiful catharsis.”

Verdant Portofino coastline / Photo by Marco Valmarana, courtesy of Assouline

A writer, lecturer, curator and journalist, Cunaccia was editor at large for Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue and the antiques consultant for Architectural Digest Italy. He has also contributed to the divisions of Architectural Digest in Germany, China and Russia, as well as Connaissance des ArtsOpera magazine and L’Oeil.

Cunaccia has published a variety of books, particularly on the Italian artistic heritage, which have been translated into twelve languages. He is also the best-selling author of Capri Dolce Vita (2019) and Tuscany Marvel (2021).

Soaking up the Sicilian rays on a private terrace / Photo by Gianmarco Amico, courtesy of Assouline

Villeggiatura means meditating in a place of your choice, a place that is an extension of yourself, a reflection of your inner being,” Cunaccia continues. “It means a sense of belonging that can come only from an extended stay. It requires an intense communion with the place, the discovery of its customs and behaviors, and an understanding of its unique rhythms.”

In the book, the reader escapes with the hospitality group Belmont to some of the most-beloved Italian destinations, from Portofino to Florence, from Venice to Sicily. Experience some of the best in hospitality at Cipriani, Splendido, Splendido Mare, Villa San Michele, Castello di Casole, Caruso, Grand Hotel Timeo, and Villa Sant’ Andrea.

Essere Spa, housed in the estate’s former wine cellar, offers treatments inspired by local ingredients in a timeless setting / Photo by Helen Cathcart, courtesy of Assouline

Belmond joined LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in April 2019, reinforcing their place among the international leaders in luxury. For over 40 years, Belmond has followed their pioneering spirit and passion for authenticity to create and uncover some of the world’s greatest travel adventures.

Today, the collection includes one-of-a-kind hotels, trains, river cruises, and safari lodges in stunning destinations across the globe.

Ravello’s rugged coastline framed by the windows of Bar Caruso / Photo by Mattia Aquila, courtesy of Assouline

These are aligned with today’s ethos of villeggiatura, which Cunnacia says still involves “taking an unusually long break so you can slow down and focus on the self. It is the exact opposite of the quick getaway or the ‘all-inclusive’ tourism of consumption, cliches, and fleeting excursions.”

He continues: “Villeggiatura is a layering of rhythms and rituals that are elegant, sometimes lazy, a mosaic of references to times gone by but mixed with contemporary comfort. It encourages you to explore your relationship with nature and connect deeply with the spirit of the place, which in turn provides the inspiration to look inward and enrich your experience of life and culture in the most elevated sense.”

Exploring the unparalleled Tuscan countryside in a vintage car / Tyson Sadle, courtesy of Assouline

Banner: Moments of relaxation spent on the terrace of the Ava Gardner Suite at Splendido Mare / Photo by Mattia Aquila, courtesy of Assouline