Hotel Villa Cipriani

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Discover Hotel Villa Cipriani, which was once owned by the English poet Robert Browning in 1889.

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Hotel Villa Cipriani, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2016, dates back to the 1550s.

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Located in the rustic town of Asolo, this magnificent historic hotel first opened as a beautiful Italian villa during the Renaissance. Its gorgeous Palladian-inspired architecture made it one of the most iconic structures in the area for generations. But in the late 19th century, the manor’s stunning historical architecture was in need of a thorough renovation. Thankfully, an English poet named Robert Browning purchased the site in 1889, with the intent on restoring it back to its former glory. Browning had specifically discovered Asolo in the 1880s and entitled his last volume of poetry, Asolando, out of his “love of the place.” The villa was then inherited by his son, Robert Wiedemann Barrett Browning, widely known as “Pen” Browning. Pen Browning subsequently sold the villa in 1902 to “Mr. Zennaro,” an engineer from nearby Treviso. Mr. Zennaro specifically desired to present the manor as a wedding gift for his daughter’s marriage to Sebastian Galanti. Renamed as the Villa Galanti, the building existed as a luxurious country estate for many years thereafter. The Galanti family mainly used the building for summer holidays and for general hospitality. On the death of the patriarch of the family, however, the Galantis ceded the villa to the Cimetta brothers, who were managers of the “Rifugio Monte Grappa” mountain resort. The brothers transformed the destination into a country hostelry that they called “Hotel Belvedere.”

In 1962, Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness, the Lord Iveagh, acquired the hotel and preserved it as a country getaway. (Guinness himself was a prominent businessman, politician, philanthropist, who also happened to be a part of the renowned Guinness family.) A part-time resident of Asolo, Guinness yearned to own the stunning Hotel Belvedere for himself. Giuseppe Cipriani—who managed the Cipriani Hotel in Venice—was tasked to rebuild and manage the country hotel. Cipriani was also well-known for his famous “Harry's Bar” in Venice, where the Bellini cocktail was invented. Renamed as the “Hotel Villa Cipriani,” the hotel was transformed into a refined jewel in the countryside. Then, in 1974, Hotel Villa Cipriani joined Ciga Hotels and was subsequently added to the Starwood Hotels and Resorts portfolio. After operating as part of the collection for several years, a group of private investors acquired the site some five decades later. They subsequently sold the structure to Massimo Zanetti in 2012, who was the owner of the group, “Segafredo.” He quickly initiated his own renovation that gave it a touch of family charm. A member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2016, the Hotel Villa Cipriani has since continued to be one of the most famous hotels in Italy. Few holiday destinations in the region can claim such a rich heritage than the Hotel Villa Cipriani.

  • About the Location +

    Nestled within the rolling hills of northern Italy, the quaint pastoral village of Asolo has existed for generations. The settlement specifically emerged at the height of the Roman Empire, with its earliest residents—the Veneti—specifically calling it “Acelum.” The name Acelum endured for generations, although the locals gradually adopted the new title of “Asolo” around the onset of the Middle Ages. By that point, the community had fallen under the jurisdiction of House Ezzelini, who controlled a large stretch of land extending from Romano d’Ezzelino to Onara. But the Republic of Venice absorbed their lands upon the extinction of the Ezzelini family line, including the town of Asolo. Its leaders subsequently made Asolo its own fiefdom on behalf of Caterina Cornaro, a former queen from Cyprus that the Venetians had dethroned upon the death of her husband, King James II. (The Republic of Venice specifically hoped to use the island as a waypoint to reach markets in the eastern Mediterranean.) The erstwhile monarch was well received throughout Asolo, though, which Cornaro operated as a reflection of her former royal court on Cyprus. She specifically recruited some of the most interesting characters from across the Italian Peninsula, including artists, musicians, and other kinds of fascinating intellectuals. Among the most important figures to frequent Cornaro’s new court included Pietro Bembo, Tuzzio Costanzo, and Gentille Bellini. Asolo quicky established itself as one of the area’s cultural capitals and even became a refuge for Venetian nobles interesting in escaping the bedlam of city life. In fact, the great architect Andrea Palladio designed a few regal villas in both the town and throughout the surrounding countryside.

    Asolo fell into obscurity amid chaos wrought from the War of the League of Cambrai. The town became an unfortunate casualty of the conflict, in which soldiers aligned with the Papal States ransacked the region as part of a campaign to blunt the Republic of Venice’s rising influence. (The war had initially pitted Venice and its allies against a fluid coalition of European states referred to as the “League of Cambrai.”) Caterina Cornaro subsequently fled to Venice after the destruction of Asolo and died there in 1510. While Asolo gradually rebuilt itself over the following decades, it never truly recovered until the end of the 18th century. A wealth of new beautiful buildings quickly emerged throughout town, with the most notable being the gorgeous Asolo Theatre. Designed by Antonio Locatelli in 1798, the theater was regarded by many as a masterpiece in Italian design. Over the course of the following century, many prominent Europeans “discovered” Asolo and grew enchanted with its wonderful atmosphere. Some of the continent’s most celebrated figures even moved into the town, such as British poet Robert Browning and Italian actress Eleonora Duse. Today, Asolo remains one of Italy’s most exquisite holiday destinations. Cultural heritage travelers in particular have enjoyed visiting Asolo and experiencing its rich history. They have been especially ecstatic about the town’s variety of historical landmarks, such as the Piazza Garibaldi, the Palazzo della Ragione, Queen Caterina Cornaro’s former castle, and its medieval fortifications.


  • About the Architecture +

    When the Hotel Villa Cipriani first debuted as a quaint country villa centuries ago, it featured the popular design aesthetics of a prominent Italian architect named Andrea Palladio. Palladio himself was born in the city of Padua at the beginning of the 16th century. A stonemason by trade, he had actually spent the first few years of his career creating sculptures for wealthy noblemen. One of his clients—the intellectual Gian Giorgio Trissino—eventually introduced Palladio to the Humanist ideas of the ongoing Renaissance, which inspired the young architect to further expand upon his education. He specifically became fascinated with ancient Roman culture and started studying surviving examples of its architecture throughout the Italian Peninsula. He also studied the rich architectural writings of numerous Roman scholars, including the great thinker Vitruvius. But Palladio was equally inspired by the new architectural philosophies of the Renaissance as well, specifically paying close attention to the work of Donato Bramante and Sebastiano Serlio. Palladio, thus, created his own unique style that combined elements of contemporary European design with the grand architecture of Roman civilization.

    In 1546, he first acted upon his special architectural approach through his work on the Basilica Palladiana in the city of Vicenza. Like many other architects of the same era, he covered the building’s preexisting medieval exterior with his own design preferences. Palladio specifically installed a series of classically-themed architectural finishes, such as arches, columns, and porticos. Perhaps the most iconic feature that he created was a series of windows that bore an ornate arched section flanked by two rectangular columns. (This design element is known today as the “Palladian window.”) Palladio’s renovation of the Basilica Palladiana earned him immense praise with people throughout northern Italy. He was soon hired to design dozens of magnificent villas throughout the region over the next several decades, and even crafted the appearance for a few churches in Venice. Palladio also authored a series of architectural books that sought to guide future generations of architects in regard to Roman design aesthetics. But his most enduring publication was the “quattro libri dell'Architettura” or “The Four Books of Architecture.” This scholastic publication masterfully examined the composition of classical architecture and its use in a variety of municipal settings.

    At the time of Andrea Palladio’s death in 1580, he had earned a reputation as one of the most preeminent architects of his age. History has since remembered Palladio as one of Europe’s most influential architects in the world. Palladio’s quattro libri dell'Architettura has also been republished numerous time in many languages over the years. It has even influenced countless other architects, including future U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. Indeed, the book subsequently gave Jefferson the vision to craft his two magnificent estates, Popular Forest and Monticello. (Both buildings are listed today as U.S. National Historic Landmarks.) Palladio’s legacy even helped spawn a revival movement in the 18th century, with many architects using it to create their own architectural style known as “Palladianism.” Even today, Palladian-themed architecture still enchants the minds of countless people across the globe. His architectural concepts are still incredibly popular throughout the West and can even be seen in places like India and China. In fact, the United Nations has even protected his work as part of a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site referred to as the “City of Vincenza and the Palladian Villas of Veneto.”


  • Famous Historic Guests +

    Marcello Mastroianni, renowned actor who appeared in such films as La Dolce Vita and Divorce Italian Style.

    Vittorio de Sica, who directed the likes of Sciuscià (Shoeshine) and Bicycle Thieves.

    Orson Welles, film director known for such movies as Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

    Peter O’Toole, actor known for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, and The Ruling Class.

    Catherine Deneuve, model and actress best known for her roles in Indochine and Belle de Jour.

    Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1952 – 2021)

    Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (1948 – 1980)

    Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (1936 – 1952)


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