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Many Ferrari owners take their cars on driving trips through Italy. These trips normally include a visit to the factory in Maranello, some high speed jaunts on the in the hills and on the motorways, plus a visit to Rome. For the Ferrari owner, it is the last of these that provides the greatest challenge. The Romans did not design Rome for Ferraris and Enzo did not design Ferraris for the streets of Rome. The combination of a low, wide, high powered super car and narrow slick cobblestone streets (with the not exactly tame local drivers thrown into the mix), is one that only the most brave (or mad) attempt. For the rest of us, the quandary is how to take the Ferrari to Rome, without having to take the Ferrari into Rome. We think we have found the solution care of a gentleman whose fortune came from the very stuff that you are constantly feeding into the tank. On the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, 40 km north-west of Rome sits John Paul Getty’s former Italian residence, now an exceptional luxury hotel. It is the perfect place to park yourself and the Ferrari while enjoying both this amazing estate and the sites of Rome (courtesy of the hotel shuttle to the Spanish Steps, the heart of Rome).
As you down shift and exit the high-speed highway at Ladispoli, you find yourself quickly on a slow, well kept dirt road leading to the hotel. Trees overhead, bicyclists weaving around you, families on a stroll together, you wonder if you took the wrong turn. Then you find the large, imposing wrought-iron gates at which you must announce your arrival; the gate swings open slowly. As you drive through, you notice expansive vegetable and fruit gardens – a sure sign that the food will be fresh. No sign of a hotel yet, you continue along the long, curving drive through more gardens. Then finally a reassuring arrowed-sign ‘Reception’ at about the time you think you must have entered the wrong estate. As you turn the corner you approach a significant, sun cast, soft, orange coloured imposing classical building – with manicured gardens on each side of the cobble-stone drive. You even feel you’ve arrived. A warm welcome ushers you in while your bags & your car are discretely taken care of.
You enter into a vast hall with floor to ceiling tapestries. To the left, an antique wooden table cornered by high back wooden chairs with a large floral display discreetly hides the reception. To the right, a mosaic table topped with intriguing hard covered books and against the wall hang newspapers tucked into wooden spines. Ahead is an impressive marble water fountain sided by soft white sheers swaying in the gentle wind across doors to a terrace. The lounges contain specially acquired antiques selected for Jean Paul Getty’s mansion with the assist of Professor Federico Zeri, curator of the Getty Museum in California. Soft, classical music discreetly fills the air.
As you are escorted to your room, the images in the intricately framed mirrors reflect the elegance of the lounges and stairwells. The massive doorway to each of the rooms is welcoming. You enter an exquisitely furnished room (or suite) furnished with various antiques complemented with high tech amenities, natural touches (fresh peaches, fresh flowers, local wines). To ensure you rest and rejuvenate well, you are given the choice of sheets of linen, silk or cotton; pillows of feather, down or foam; temperature controlled by air conditioning or sea breezes.
When its time to sleep, you can choose to leave the shutters and windows open, awaking to the sunrise casting rays over your pillows, or you can choose to close the shutters and turn-on the air conditioning – but beware – if you don’t wake up until its light – you may find yourself sleeping late as the shutters keep the room pitch black.
If you prefer an early start, enjoy a fresh pot of coffee/tea watching the sun rise over the sea while lounging on the plush black and white awning striped cushions which dress the terraces. A dip in the sea before breakfast is divine as are a dip in the indoor pool or a walk around the gardens.
Just take a few steps away down from the Terrace and grab a thick, plush beach towel from the wicker basket, open the door and there you discover the first rather rough beach. You will be accompanied by the local fisherman securing their first catch of the day. If you prefer a sandy beach which dips into deep water rather quickly (no rough rocks to manoeuvre) – brace yourself for a clinging walk across the sea wall which wraps around the front of the mansion to the black sandy beach. (The Manager apologised for this ‘inconvenience’ but Italianbureaucracyand historical landmarks don’t make for expedient decisions which also explains why there is no outdoor swimming pool (yet) – as every time they dug they were met with Roman ruins and been prevented from digging further!)
The black beach and large plot of forrest behind are what separates the Posta Vecchia from the Prince Odescalchi’s castle (The Posta Vecchia was originally built as the Prince’s hostel to accommodate visitors and tradesmen who journeyed to his castle.) If the tide is out – you are quickly swimming in water over your head. It is positively refreshing. You swim out a few yards and admire the property and the Odescalchi Castle from the sea. Eyeing the lounge chairs, small bar and kayaks resting on the private beach – and the day’s plans are instantly changed – Rome can wait another day. Walking back thinking about breakfast, you are thankful you awoke early.
Back inside the gate, you can sit down for breakfast on the terrace under the massive umbrellas providing shade from the sun or on the uncovered portion of the terrace if you prefer the morning sun. Alternatively, you can go back to the room and change, but it is not required.
Breakfast is served at your leisure from the expansive hot and cold buffet inside. Whether you prefer freshly squeezed blood-orange juice or champagne, fresh cheese or hard Parma ham or spicy sausage, fresh pineapple or home-made yogurt, scrambled eggs or boiled, bacon or sausage, tarts or croissants……they have it all. If you don’t see it, ask.
If you decided to stay and leave Rome for another day; you can lounge on the beach or by the indoor pool flanked by French windows overlooking the sea; but be sure you have plenty of sunscreen as the summer sun is intense. Even the lounge chairs are brilliantly designed – their canvas roofs can be adjusted to keep the sun from your face to facilitate your enjoyment of that novel that you’ve been trying for months to find some time to read. If you are thirsty, just ring and cold drinks are served to your side-table by smart polo-shirt and Bermuda shorted staff.
Time seems to escape at La Posta Vecchia , and lunch comes upon shortly. You can stay put and have lunch brought to your lounge or wrap-up and journey back to the terraced dining area. One other alternative is a picnic on the grounds. If you’ve been lying at the beach how luch will be delivered is a bit of a mystery. As the large wicker basket is lowered over the sea wall, it becomes clear how they cleverly manoeuvre around obstacles and have tought things though well.
As the sun moves off the beach in the late afternoon, its a good time to tour the expansive grounds either on foot or if you are feeling slightly energetic – on one of the complementary mountain bikes. If that sounds like work, as an alternative you can stroll over to the double hammock shaded by the massive trees from which it is slung. Fluff up its pillow and gently push yourselves, it is low enough to touch the grass with your finger tips, high enough for a good swing. A great location for a quiet conversation or a relaxing read.
Back in the room, draw a bubble bath in the long, wide clawed bath or if you prefer to refresh in the shower. Afterwards there are plenty of soft towels and warming robes to lounge in while you think about what to wear this evening. Anything goes, dress-up or go casual, it is up to you.
Dusk is a perfect time for a tour of the Museum which can be entered via a staircase just off the main hall. When Jean Paul Getty bought the mansion in the early 1960’s he devoted 5 years and a fortune to restore the villa. During the restoration, the remains of the 2ndcentury BC Roman villas were discovered beneath the foundations. The magnificent mosaics and array of ancient cooking utensils found in the subterranean chambers were carefully restored to create the small, private museum. Ask for private tour to fully appreciate the museum’s significance.
Enjoy an aperitif on the candle lit terrace or inside in one of the many antiqued lounges. The appetizers are a sure sign of a great meal ahead. Dinner is a delight on the candle lit terrace or in the Cesare dining room if you prefer, or if more adventurous you can arrange a private butlered dinner on the beach or in the garden gazebo. Posta Vecchia’s chef is first rate as are the restaurant staff who are both charming and efficient. The food is fresh and outstanding. The fresh seafood is grilled to perfection.
Posta Vecchia is truly a ‘Serene and heavenly home’ as described by Jean Paul Getty. The ‘feeling of peace, calm, and well being are particular to this place and are both tangible and unique’. To capture the hidden qualities, this state of mind ‘is only with the heart that one see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye’.
La Posta Vecchia Hotel
Palo Laziale – 00055 Palo Laziale (Roma) – Italy
Tel. +39 06 9949501 – Fax +39 06 9949507
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