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Twenty km from Rome, on the Tusculum Hill, stands a 16th century villa and she’s a beauty. Villa Grazioli overwhelmingly embodies Italian culture; visually, it’s artistically stunning but even richer is the history.
Part of the international chain Small Luxury Hotels of the World, it exudes style of course but for me, the allure is hidden within the stories it has to tell. The main house is adorned with frescoes, a water based technique for mural painting. As a consequence though, sadly some of the murals have been tarnished by the effects of water damage throughout the years. Built up over the centuries, masters in Italian art were commissioned by the numerous villa owners to create the many exquisite artworks. The masterpiece for me, was the third floor gallery, exhibiting the work of Giovanni Paolo Panini. The walls and ceilings painted in their entirety and it’s possibly the most jaw dropping spectacle of the entire Italy trip (apologies for the lacklustre photo, there’s a brilliant one on the villa website).
Speaking to the receptionist one evening, we regaled in it’s history; prior to the current ownership, the building was abandoned for 40 years, before that, it had been occupied by the nazi’s during world war 2 (the graffiti of the soldier’s names still remain on part of Panini’s gallery) and the old tunnels beneath the ground, that centuries ago connected 12 of the local villas, are now only used for transporting towels to the guest houses and keeping the staff’ dry during rain showers.
The villa is made up of the main house containing numerous aristocratic reception rooms, the art gallery and a few guest suites. The majority of rooms (including ours) are based in the two guesthouses beside the villa.
We stayed in the Limonaia, an elite room which was wonderfully charming; large suite with wooden ceiling, en suite and walk-in wardrobe. The room overlooked the gorgeous grounds and villa but others look out over Rome.
Cost: 288 for two nights (6-8 June 2015)
Something to note: There is a train station, 10 minutes drive from the villa which takes around 30 minutes to reach Rome (the stop is near the Colosseum). The receptionist arranges a shuttle to the station each morning. A taxi to Rome costs around 50-70 euros, depending on how friendly the driver’s feeling that day.


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