Tucked away in an unspoilt corner of southern Italy, Palazzo Belmonte was and still is the home of the noble Belmonte family who originally built the palazzo as a hunting lodge for the King of Italy. The family’s outstanding good taste permeates throughout the property and grounds; from the Smythson stationary in the bedrooms to the endless antiques and artworks that have been collected by the family since the 17th century when the estate was built. This is still very much a family home and guests can regularly expect to share breakfast with the charming Prince and other generations of his family who still live in part of the palace.
Bedrooms vary between those in the main building and others nearby. All are individual but share the same fresh feel with whitewashed walls, terracotta floors, wrought iron beds and colourful tiled bathrooms. Many have private terraces or gardens, the perfect place to watch the jaw-dropping sunsets, glass of prosecco in hand. Our favourite room is the Jacaranda suite in Edoardo's house, known as the jewel in the Belmonte crown with its very private terrace looking one way to the medieval town of Castellabate and down towards the sweeping coastline in the other direction.
Palazzo Belmonte offers something that is hard to find elsewhere in Italy: direct access to a sandy beach, which makes it a haven for young children. The leafy grounds cover nearly 400 acres, perfect for little people to explore, along with a large pool area that can get quite busy during school holidays.
Recently UNESCO picked out the Cilento region as one of the four regions of Italy where the traditional Mediterranean way of life and diet still flourishes. As well as backing onto a national park, the Cilento coastline is a foodie heaven and as most visitors to the area flock to the Amalfi Coast in remains unspoilt in most areas and relatively free of tourists. Every fishing village serves spectacularly fresh fish from humble trattorias and being in the heart of mozzarella farming at Palazzo Belmonte you can expect vast plates of tomato and milkiest buffalo mozzarella salad drizzled with the estate’s own olive oil and figs picked fresh from the trees in the garden that morning.
For a taste of real Italy, walk the short distance to the town of Castellabate where fishing boats nudge the harbour walls, old ladies gossip in the shade of brightly painted cottages and children of all ages play football on pitches scratched out in the sand. In the evenings the trattorias that line the piazza produce pizzas straight from the wood oven and a dazzling array of gelato including the current favourite nutella.
Palazzo Belmonte and the surrounding area take you back in time to an Italy under whose spell everyone from the Ancient Greeks to Hemingway fell. Go now to be enchanted before the secret is out.