Palazzo Margherita is a hotel of Italian luxury and familiar informality in equal measure, sumptuous and with exotic ambiance, but utterly comfortable and welcome to all. Designed in collaboration with French interior designer Jacques Grange and production designer Dean Tavoularis, the hotel is famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s latest production and something quite personal. Nestled in Coppola’s grandparents’ hometown of Basilicata in southern Italy the Palazzo Margherita is found in one of the grandest buildings in Bernalda.
Taking the ornate 19th-century palace that had largely fallen into disrepair, the Coppola-Tavoularis-Grange team turned the home into a hotel with – not surprisingly – a cinematic sense of grandeur, maintaining the elegant old world charm and adding new details to keep it current. On the walls are found centuries-old Italian frescoes, while the original marble floors have been restored to perfection. Neoclassical-inspired finishes and classical furnishings sit elegantly beside interior courtyard gardens which beam with lush plant-life. – roses and vegetables and vines.
In each of the nine bedrooms of the manor, the design is also nothing short of exquisite. Geometric terrazzo tiles, rich and romantic friezes, swaths of decorative fabrics, luxurious details, bountiful beds and generous ceilings, create boudoirs to rest and renew, nooks to nestle in, all with a sense of peaceful exoticism.
The suites are a family collaboration, there’s the ‘Sofia’ suite, for which Sofia Coppola gave Grange direction for, and one also for Roman and Gia. “They are all artists, and their ideas and taste are of benefit anytime we create something like this,” says Francis. For his own suite, it has a touch of Tunisian influence, his grandmother’s homeland. “I love the North African, Tunisian feel… and I found that it blended into the palazzo’s very sumptuous and exotic ambience to create a space that I would be happy to stay in.”
As well as rooms with tiled fireplaces and writing desks, terraces with views of the courtyard and gardens, and various bars to retreat to, the hotel has an open kitchen for cooking lessons, a screening room with an extensive Coppola film library, and, for those not staying, the open Cinecittà Bar – because Francis “wanted the people of Bernalda to feel welcome at Palazzo Margherita even though it was to be a luxury hotel.”
The magic of the Palazzo Margherita – a hand-painted palace that really is like something out of the movies – is its timeless elegance, romance and its ability to capture the essence of the Italian heart. It is where the vision, imagination and love of the Coppola family is truly felt.
Credits: Palazzo Margherita