He’s not just one of the world’s most famous directors, with movies like Apocalypse Now and the Godfather trilogy on his resume, he’s also a luxury resort magnate. Francis Ford Coppola’s new Italian resort, Palazzo Margherita, opened its doors last month in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy. Luxuriously chic yet rooted in tradition, the resort is set in a quaint town where you’ll feel more like a visiting relative or friend than a tourist.
The palazzo was built in 1892 in Bernalda, the birthplace and home to Agostino Coppola, Francis’ grandfather, who always affectionately referred to it as “Bernalda bella.” Francis bought the property in 2005 as a family holiday home, before deciding to turn it into a boutique resort.
“When I purchased and designed the now Palazzo Margherita for friends and family to call home in Italy, I knew I needed to extend the property and surrounding village of Bernalda to my guests as well,” he says.
Completely restored in collaboration with French designer Jacques Grange (who even designed some bespoke pieces of furniture for the hotel), the Palazzo offers a luxurious yet authentic Italian experience, with big, ornate rooms and an inner courtyard that opens onto private gardens and a swimming pool.
The interior embodies Italian elegance and is styled with tiled floors and hand-painted frescoed ceilings with a taste of Moroccan and baroque flair.
Francis hoped to create an environment his family would keep coming back to, so he included them in the design process, each one contributing personal touches to every room.
Film buffs can watch classic Italian movies (chosen by Francis himself) in an opulent salon, which by day is a sitting room but at night is transformed into a cinema with professional quality sound and projection.
The salon also hosts occasional concerts or other live performances!
It’s an intimate resort, with just seven individually decorated suites and two garden rooms. Many of the rooms feature a large terrace as well as a Juliet balcony. Our personal favourite, suite five, features classic Italian décor. A secret back staircase leads to an upstairs loft, which has a single bed and sitting room, perfect for a little one, or a private reading room for adults. The story goes that it was the room of the Palazzo’s young maid, Palmetta, who had given her heart to Francis’ dashing grandfather Agostino Coppola. The room also features a majestic ceiling with a hand-painted fresco.
Food at Palazzo Margherita is inspired by the region’s Italian cuisine and is prepared in a home-cooked style. You can dine on handmade pastas, local game, fish from nearby coasts or local breads and cheeses in either the gardens, at a table in the lively Cinecittà Bar, or at the farmhouse table in the kitchen itself. The eat-in kitchen is designed to allow guests to enjoy, observe and even participate in the cooking.
Burn off some of the delish food by exploring the quaint town of Bernalda that surrounds the Palazzo, or venture into the historic province of Matera. You can visit ancient cave dwellings, historic houses and museums, as well as sampling the local fare and vino at the region’s vineyards – you are on holiday, after all!
Location: Bernalda, a small hilltop town in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy.
Likely guests: Francis has no shortage of A-List friends, and we’re sure more than a few of them will pop into the palazzo for a break. His daughter (and fellow director) Sophia Coppola has already holidayed there and his old buddy, Star Wars creator George Lucas, might drop in. Kate Hudson, who struck up a friendship with Francis during the filming of Skeleton Key and has stayed at his house in New Orleans, is sure to be a guest as well!
Getting there: Fly into Bari Airport, which has connections to Italy’s main cities and is about a one hour and twenty minute drive away from Palazzo Margherita. Private transport is available on request.
Cost: Rates start from €360 per night, including in-room drinks, breakfast and cooking lessons.
Contact: +39 0835 549060, www.palazzomargherita.com.