T he fabulous beaches of the Riviera, the rolling hills of Tuscany. Some European vacation destinations are so alluring that you never want to leave. So why not stay? Or at least make yourself truly at home when you are traveling on holiday to France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere. Imagine waking up in Capri to the sound of crashing Mediterranean waves or taking in the incredible Catalonian designs of Gaudí over lunch, or seeing paintings by Vermeer and Rembrandt in Holland. With spectacular settings and gorgeous interiors, these six European villas have timeless allure.
Italy: Villa Bismark, Capri
Situated on the ruins of a Roman palace, Villa Bismarck has been home to generations of painters, musicians and composers as far back as the 18th century. Look out onto the Bay of Naples and the Sorrento peninsula from pristine gardens that extend all the way to the sea below. Take a dip in the pool on the outdoor terrace, or lounge on your own private dock with its beachside Jacuzzi. Inside, six-meter vaulted ceilings frame panoramic views. The historic circular library and adjacent lounge provide an ideal place to read, or you may prefer to gaze out the vast windows while relaxing in the master suite.
France: “La Favorite,” Côte d’Azur
This exclusive French villa, built in 1880, is true to its Belle Époque era. The original pristine white exterior has been expertly persevered since its construction, and speaks to a lavish, old-world opulence; yet through the stately entranceway, the airy living space is as comfortable as it is contemporary. With two large terraces, two swimming pools and landscaped parklands with all-encompassing views of the bay and Lérins Islands, this home exemplifies villa living on the Côte d’Azur. The property also comes with two additional houses, one for guests, and the other for your own gym and studio.
Holland: Villa Prunushoeve, Loosdrecht
Architect Menno Ongering’s secluded villa on the “Silent Lake” in Loosdrecht combines a classic cottage style with a tasteful minimalist aesthetic. With four hectares and two small islands, there is plenty of open space for leisurely biking. In fact, with its air-conditioned gym, indoor swimming pool, private boathouse and two underground garages that can accommodate twenty cars, this home was made for an active lifestyle. The modern-classical interior is characteristic of designer Piet Boon, whose style perfectly integrates warm woods, natural stone and stainless steel.
Italy: Camigliano, Capannori, Lucca
This historic Italian estate in tranquil, verdant Lucca may be the quintessential European villa. With Romanesque architecture and magnificent framed paintings, this majestic home includes five fully renovated apartments on four hectares of land with 2,000 olive trees. A charming limonaia adds an authentic touch to this incomparably beautiful country estate.
Croatia: Palazzo Residence, Zagreb
Tucked just far enough away from it all, this exclusive villa offers a location unlike any other. Easily accessible from the Croatian capital of Zagreb as well as the town of Samobor and the Adriatic Sea, it is also not far from the borders with Slovenia, Italy, and Austria. The home is a food-lover’s dream – the 35,000 square meter property includes vineyards, orchards and seasonal vegetable gardens as well as staff to tend them. There is an apiary where homemade honeys and marmalades are made, a free-range hen house, a chef’s kitchen equipped with cheese and prosciutto drying spaces, and a 300 square meter wine cellar. After dinner, catch a movie in the home theater, enjoy a Turkish bath or head out to the two-hole driving range.
Italy: Via di Bellosguardo, Florence
Set in a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its fascinating history and unique landscape, this hilltop villa overlooks the city of Florence and the surrounding Arno Valley. Altogether, the property encompasses seven hectares of rich parklands and six buildings that epitomize the area’s rustic beauty. The main house is a masterpiece, with three storeys, nine living rooms, and ten bedrooms across 1,400 square meters. The wooden beams of the sky-high ceilings are complemented by the warmly-colored floors and the charming traditional design of the doors and windows throughout.
One of the main perks of having a European home base is your proximity to so many natural and cultural wonders – yet villas like these are destinations all on their own. Discover more incredible villa-style homes around the world from Sotheby’s International Realty.