Villa Zenyara | Coachella | Greater Palm Springs | California
Located in the center of Sorrento, among the Lands of the Syrens, this property stands on the top of a promontory with a sheer drop off, into the sea. The property faces out towards Naples and Mount Vesuvius. Centrally located, Villa Astor is just a few hundred meters from the historical center of Sorrento, where tiny shopping streets and the main, cozy family-run trattorie and restaurants are located. The port of Marina Grande, from where Jet and hydrofoil connections to Capri and to Naples lie, is situated close to the villa in an area reachable either by foot or by an elevator. There are also several nice public and private beach establishments within walking distance. Thanks to its marvelous position smack on the Mediterranean’s seafront, this unique villa enjoys stunning sea views out over the entire Gulf of Naples, with Mount Vesuvius, the Island of Procida, and the Sorrento Coast right in front of you.
Historical Outline – That villa was built entirely with precious marble from the farthest provinces of the Empire and with many Egyptian and Greek works of art.It was here that Ovid accompanied Giulia, Augustus’s granddaughter, for what was to prove a most disquieting encounter. The first floor of the original property was completely buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvious in 79 A.D. Forwarding to the 13th Century, the site was turned into a convent by a group of cloistered nuns. In 1888 the villa became private when it was sold to the a Count, a distinguished collector of antiquities and friend of Schliemann, the excavator of Troy, who bought the site and began to build its present house. He also created what is now one of the finest, private gardens in all of Italy. At the beginning of the twentieth century, William Waldorf Astor (the first Viscount Astor) came to Italy as an Ambassador, immediately fell in love with Sorrento, defining it as “the most beautiful place on earth”. The convent was destroyed and a wall along the property’s seaward side was raised, where various openings were made and decorated with medieval ruins and Greek-style temples. The garden was enriched by a precious collection of exotic plants, which soon acclimated to the mild Mediterranean air: Beaurcarneaue from Mexico; Cycas from Polynesia and Australia; Erythrineae from Brasil; Jacarandeae from Chile; Jubeaue from Egypt. After Lord Astor, the villa changed hands several times until, from 1943 – 1945, the property hosted Benedetto Croce, turning it into a political crossroads for the rising Republic of Italy. Today, a welcoming Italian family, who purchased the property in the 1970’s and have continued to uphold the historic significance of its history, gardens, and artefacts, owns the villa.
Description – The villa, with own private descent to the sea, is built in an elegant and luxurious neoclassical style on four levels and is adorned by tens of archaeological objects of inestimable value.The property enjoys 270-degree sea views, while the entire Western, Eastern, and Southern sides are surrounded by a large, private garden (considered Italy’s most impressive, private garden – see description below) with more than 700 species of plants, flowers, and trees up to 60 feet high. A walk through the property – its garden, open spaces, and internal rooms is a truly emotional experience: elegance and classicism, all with a very strong relationship to local southern Italian traditions, can be found through the property’s décor, paintings, and various artefacts. Marble columns and fragments complete its style, while it is difficult to verbalize what Villa Astor truly represents.Guests will surely be overwhelmed by its history, as well as its gardens, style, detail, and stunning sea views. At the end of your first trek & journey you will surely be filled with the desire to begin your tour all over again.
Ground floor – The entrance to the neo-classical residence is very soft. A private driveway leads through the garden right down to the entrance door. 8 steps down a paved area of the garden sit several benches, while two Carrara marble sculpted lions, crouched as if guarding the entryway, lead to the main door. The elegant hall, lined entirely in marble and white columns, is adorned with important marble fragments and Roman statues. This hall offers ½ bath with black floor tiles. Access into an elegant lounge facing the sea has 3 French doors, which lead out onto a terrace. The lounge has parquet floors, 4 sofas and 4 comfortable, white armchairs; glass topped table, with capitals from Roman villas; TV and DVD; antique statues and sculptures, wall paintings, and decorative small tables in mother pearl, as well as special lighting, adds to the elegance and intimacy of the property. Access from the lounge is into Study with parquet floors and French doors leading out onto a terrace. The study, with its antique chest of Ming and Byzantine vases, offers a desk and many antique pieces furniture. The terrace offers incredible views out over the Gulf of Naples with the majestic volcano, Mount Vesuvious, lying directly in front of you, on the opposite side of the Sea. Views are truly spectacular on days when the sun plays with the colours of the deep blue sea as the sky lines the top of the volcano. The marble floored terrace, adorned with beautiful potted cactus plants, has a glass-topped table with the capital Roman columns as a base. One table seats 8 people and the other two tables each seat 6-8 people. (In case of an event or important dinner, the terrace can be arranged to accommodate up to 50 people). The terrace also features an electronic canvas to balance the heat and shade. Along the other area of the first floor of the villa lies the kitchen and dining rooms. The spectacular and large kitchen is divided into two areas and with vaulted ceilings, is tiled entirely with black and white tiles.It features a large semi-round cooking station with 6 stovetops and a sink.The kitchen has several facilities, which allow for preparation of everything from snacks and light meals to full meals or gala dinners. It features a double sink, double ovens, large refrigerator with freezer, ice cream and sorbet maker, toaster, microwave oven and meat-slicer. A small marble table with 2 chairs serves as a spot to drink a morning cup of coffee. The kitchen leads to a terrace, which is an extension of the main kitchen, as it offers external cooking and dining facilities including a brick oven (ideal for pizzas, homemade bread, and meats) and a ceramic tile table with 4 iron chairs. The dining area consists of two, separate dining rooms (one formal, one informal). Both are elegant and portray the style found throughout – Waterford crystal chandeliers, antique furniture, and marble columns. The informal dining room leads directly into the kitchen, on one side, and to the external dining terrace, on the other.
First Floor – The first floor, up 23 steps from the main entrance hall, is where the first of 6 main bedrooms are found. The bedrooms are located on the first, second, and third floors, all up a large, majestic marble staircase decorated with lovely period paintings. Large windows face both the garden and the sea from the floors above. The first bedroom boasts a ceramic tile floor and double bed, large mirror, small fireplace, and 2 French windows facing the garden. Large, marble bathroom with double sink and French windows. The first floor also boasts a second living room with 5 large comfortable armchairs, a glass topped table, and 3 French doors which lead out onto a lovely balcony facing the sea.
Second Floor – Up 23 steps from the main entrance hall. The bedrooms are all located along a corridor. One double bedroom has a large antique wooden wardrobe with mirror and desk and window with sea views overlooking the Vesuvious. En-suite bathroom with bathtub. A second bedroom has twin beds, wardrobe and window with both sea and garden views Marble bathroom with small tub and tiled with mosaic mirror.
Third floor – Double bedroom with 2 French doors leading onto a terrace and a window looking out onto both the garden and the sea. Fireplace. Small table with 2 chairs and chandelier. Large marble bathroom with double sink. Second double bedroom with parquet floors. 2 windows with garden view. Bath with marble tub. Double bedroom with iron bed, 2 armchairs, 2 bedside tables, 2 windows with sea view. Wardrobe with mirror. Tiled bath with bathtub. Twin bedroom with small wardrobe, with garden view. Bath with Jacuzzi tub/shower and double sink. 23 steps lead up to an unfurnished panoramic roof top terrace.
Basement floor – Reachable by an external staircase of 21 steps off the main terrace. This floor enjoys one large relax lounge and serves as a passage way to the direct sea access.This room has large vaulted windows facing the sea, a sofa, football, and table tennis. The garden is lit by garden-candles and lights and it doted by stereo system playing Mozart’s witty and joyful music throughout. The garden features a marble topped table with 10 iron chairs, which can be used for enjoying a garden picnic, while nearby lounge chairs line the irregularly shaped swimming pool (2 – 4 meters wide x 8 meters long). A vegetable garden, also part of the property, lies on opposite side of the street from the villa, providing guests with fresh fruit and vegetables varying during the different seasons.
Boat dock – sea access – A path of approximately 100 plant lined steps leads down to the sea and the villas private boat dock.Once you’re down there, you’ll be surprised of what you see – a thermal pool with a circular vaulted ceiling, is partly a natural cave (grotto) excavated by the Romans and used a thermal pool. It is the original, functional remains of what was once were the thermal baths of the Roman villa belonging to Emperor Augustus’ grandson. A real wonder of nature and history. The grotto is still fed by the sea with fresh sea water and an ideal, sandy area to swim and relax.The East side of the grotto holds an ancient, Roman fish-breeding pool. A ½ bathroom is comfortably, located along the way down to the sea. 5 steps lead from the grotto to the private boat dock, where a set of stairs leads directly to the sea – ideal for sunbathing and swimming.
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