Arriving at Villa Arnica, which is quite well-hidden in the town of Lana, located near Merano in Northern Italy, feels like entering a planet apart. Indeed a planet filled with Gatsby grandeur, art nouveau interior, and a unique pool house, embedded in a genuine garden with mediterranean palms and all kinds of fruit trees.
Villa Arnica’s surrounding surely brought me back to my childhood days, arousing many memories of playing hide and seek in the garden I grew up, together with my neighbours. Staying in the garden from early in the morning till late at night meant everything to us, and we valued every single day, spent in nature, together with some lovely cats too. As of today, I keep dreaming of owning a huge garden (possibly next to a villa) one day, which I would fill with flowers and trees.
Just that dream seemed to get true during my stay at Villa Arnica. Staying at the villa as well as walking through the picturesque garden, felt like a journey back to my roots. The historical villa is surrounded by vineyards, apple and palm trees, hills and mountains. Just like the place I grew up and used to spend my summers at.
By comparison, Villa Arnica seems to subsist yet a bit longer.
Built in 1925, Villa Arnica served as a guesthouse until the 1980s, though you may not imagine this former lodging not just as a simple Bed & Breakfast place. It would rather be a house of high-quality, offering la crème de la crème to many distinguished guests, including writers, poets, actors and artists of that era, coming from all areas of Europe to spend their summer at Villa Arnica. In the 1920s the pool house used to be a meeting point for stylish guests at all kinds of Arnica’s festivities. One can only imagine too well artists and intellectuals gather up in the beautiful house and stroll through the gardens, holding a fancy cocktail glass. Almost like a countryside version of The Great Gatsby.
Serendipitously, the creative 20s spirit and allover artistic atmosphere never seemed to have died but rather to have survived until today, thanks to the owner’s wish of preserving bygone aesthetics, inspired by Slim Aarons’ nostalgia, which can be seen especially at the poolside with its characteristic yellow-striped parasols.
When in 2019, the family Dissertori took over the heritage, they were aware of the historical value and therefore devoted equal attention to keeping the house’s retro spirit, while restoring some essentials, such as bathrooms, beds etc., while terrazzo floors and stucco-ceilings were to be preserved, underlining the uniqueness of its ten suites at Villa Arnica. While some of the original furnishings could be saved, even more antique details have been found at various flea markets, adding a few contemporary design pieces to each suite, as well as to the peculiar Salotto, where you may sip an aperitivo or afternoon tea, while listening to some dusty melodies, deriving from a retro record player.
During summer, you may not wish to do anything but stay at the serene poolside all day, while playing bocce in the late afternoon, set in the midst of greens. After a good swim, you may desire to have local lunch at the pool house, which exists since the late 1960s. Anyhow, the garden area marks the perfect spot for reading hours, diving into a very Slim Aarons aesthetic of living.
Are you ready for a Gatsby-stay, playing hide and seek like in your childhood?
Find out more about Villa Arnica’s unique hospitality here.
Special thanks to Family Dissertori (in collaboration with Villa Arnica).
Claudia Paone (photographer)
Atelier Rilí, Rizzolli Manufaktur 1870 (accessories)
Oberrauch Zitt, Tory Burch, Missoni, Red Valentino (costumes)