The lady of the lake: Ultra luxury at Villa Cortine


Like the jeweled hand of a lady in the generous waters of Lake Garda, the Sirmione peninsula has long been an enclave of respite and serenity. Since Roman times the stunning location has been home to villas for the privileged who found it a place of quiet and unsurpassed beauty.

Today the brightest gem is the Villa Cortine Palace Hotel, an exclusive retreat set amid five hectares of pristine park and panoramic views of three provinces along Italy’s largest Lake. The 54-room, five-star hotel and its surroundings take up fully one-eighth of the entire peninsula, creating the epitome of Sirmione chic. The five-star luxury here is heartfelt.
Villa Cortine, Italy
Built by a count at the turn of the 20th century, the villa is a blend of Neoclassical, Liberty and Palladian architecture that now offers refinement and Sirmione chic to discerning guests.

Built by Count Kurt Von Koseritz at the turn of the 20th century in a blend of Neoclassical, Liberty and Palladian architecture, Villa Cortine now hosts the crème of tourism’s clientele, 80 percent of them from English-speaking countries.

Roberto Cappelletto, general director of the sprawling ultra-luxury property, has helped cater to their requirements for 38 years, ensuring they find the refinement they seek. His decades of effort have proven successful – fully 50 percent of guests return year after year.

“Though we are in the heart of Sirmione, guest can stay here in complete quiet and comfort, and read or play tennis or of course enjoy the fine cuisine,” says Cappelletto. “It is an ‘island’ of its own, really, full of nature along with fountains and small temples.”

As would be expected for a luxurious lakeside hotel, the Villa Cortine has its own boats for excursions and a personal concierge for each guest to make sure it all goes as planned. After a day on the lake or in quiet repose away from the bustle of the outside world, guest can selected from a range of restaurants, each offering its own form of escape. Several restaurants serve exceptional cuisine in a peaceful lakefront setting.
Lake Garda, Italy English news
The villa is filled with antiques, objets d’art, timeless Murano lamps, precious carpets and beautiful fabrics.

Guests who have gloried in such gustatory delight can then learn how to create it themselves with cooking classes by the hotel’s chefs. The Cortine also offers personalized meals cooked onsite at one of the many small temples that dot the property.

In season, the hotel takes guests to the opera in Verona complete with private drivers and select seating. It also offers its own performances by virtuosos from Verona or Milan’s famed La Scala Opera House every Monday at the property’s Jardin d’ Etoiles.

Rooms range from suites to deluxe prestige and standard accommodations, all decorated in a refined style fitting the hotel’s pedigree and magnificence. Some rooms are in the historic villa, while others are in a nearby elegant property built in the ’50s. All rooms strike a note of chic luxury: Wood flooring and filled with antiques, objets d’art, timeless Murano lamps, precious carpets and beautiful fabrics.

Each room or suite has an Italian marble bathroom with claw-footed bath and walk-in shower. From your window, you can gaze out to the huge park of Villa Cortine and sublime Lake Garda. The colors of the lake change with the light that imbues the lush Mediterranean vegetation of this enviable lakeside location. Already in February the garden is covered with jasmine flowers, while unexpected corners in the rock give way to a path for lovers and a meditation bench that offers vistas of water fringed by mountains. The park also features several fountains designed by a Vicenza sculptor. One is dedicated to the god Neptune, another represents Mount Baldo protecting Sirmione and others depict Narcissus with sea horses and Leda with a swan.
Latin poet Catullus
Its 54 rooms range from suites to deluxe prestige and standard accommodations, all decorated in a style fitting the hotel’s pedigree and magnificence.

The Villa Cortine is in walking distance of another legendary villa, one truly great age. The Grotto of Catullo, named for the Latin poet Catullus, was built under Emperors Augustus and Tiberius on the tip of Sirmione. When it was rediscovered by the Venetians, it had been so reclaimed by nature they thought the ruins were a natural grotto, hence the misnomer in its name. Today is among the top tourist attractions and historic sites on Lake Garda.

Catullus, the very first great love poet in Latin literature, lived and wrote here, singing his tormented love for Lesbia while also celebrating the beauty of Sirmione with its sublime lake: “Lapping ripples of my lake, shake/With all the laughter lurking in your water!” he wrote. Sirmione was to him “among the islands and peninsulas the best jewel,” and was on the map of his heart as both a real and ideal place where feelings of rest and joy coexisted.

Just 300 meters from the grotto, the hotel’s site on the hill Cortine also dates back to the Roman era when a garrison was stationed there to protect the southern reaches of Lake Garda. In fact the name Cortine comes from the Latin “cortes”, which means garrison.
 Sirmione, Lake Garda, Italy
The hotel’s surrounding park has several fountains including one dedicated to the god Neptune.

During World War II, the villa was seized and used as a military headquarters first by the Germans and then by the Americans. After the war the Galletti family sold the property to Franco Signori. In 1952, architects Cassi and Remella built big building at the back of the villa that makes up the main body of the luxurious hotel. The Ghidini family, art lovers and industrialists in the copper business, currently own the property.

The town of Sirmione, famed for its striking 13th century castle called Rocca Scaligera, boasts a maze of cobbled alleyways.

At the heart of the peninsula, the hotel offers easy access to the many mineral water spas for which the area is also renowned. Tourists who choose Villa Cortine feel that they are part of an ancestral beauty and calm provided by a special magic in Sirmione’s sulfurous waters. The Roman thermal baths and the secret of the lake’s green mud provide skin-enhancing properties.

The villa is also the home base and starting point for Italy’s famed Mille Miglia car rally, today a re-enactment of the legendary race to Rome and back that was held 24 times from 1927 to 1957. The original race was finally banned due to its high speeds and dangerous curves. The modern rendition is held with classic and vintage cars that begin and end their rally of Italy in Sirmione. In addition to his other duties and overseeing a hotel staff of 72, Cappelletto is also a director of the Mille Miglia.

Drivers from 11 countries have signed up for the rally and will stay at the hotel as the colorful journey gets underway on May 19.