Villa Astor Sorrento: A Naples Italy Holiday Home for the Ultra Rich
Entertaining the likes of Princess Margaret and Gianni Agnelli, Villa Astor Sorrento wasn’t the most palatial of William Waldorf Astor’s home but it was his most storied.
Situated on the Gulf of Naples, lies Villa Astor in the town of Sorrento, 50km south of Naples, Italy. Towering above the Archipelago Campano, the Villa Astor is a Naples holiday home for the ultra rich. A magnificent private residence built on the ruins of a first century Roman villa (how debauched!), Villa Astor Sorrento is set on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula, thus, the ultra luxurious holiday home with a beautiful botanical garden (a top 10 in Italy, one might add) provides some of the most breathtaking views of Marina Grande and Marina Piccola.
Provenance of a Naples Italy Holiday Home for the Ultra Rich
Acquired by then U.S Ambassador to Italy, William Waldorf Astor in 1905, he was the world’s synonym for money and power in the early 20th century right up there with names like Rockefeller. William Waldorf Astor’s great grandfather had made a fortune in fur before pivoting into a real estate empire, from there, the Astor family eventually built a business empire on the foundations of real estate, adding import and export trade, newspaper publishing and of course, forays into being hoteliers with the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York (then as in now, still the gold standard for luxury stays for the ultra rich).
Compared to Astor’s other holiday homes, the US$1.25 million Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire, England and the GBP10 million Hever Castle in Kent originally built for Anne Boleyn’s family (yes, the Anne Boleyn from the Tudors); the 110,210 lira Villa Astor Sorrento in Naples Italy was not the most palatial of his other luxury properties including the 67,000 square foot 18 Carlton House Terrace overlooking St. James Park in London; BUT, the Villa Astor Sorrento was his most indulgent.
Astor had spent the next 3 years quietly adding to the surrounding lands and grooming one of Italy’s top 10 botanical gardens. A neighbouring monastery and medieval church were acquired, torn down and subsequently added to the villa’s verdant lushness where he was able to recreate grand Roman style by adding a Pompeiian villa on the outskirts, decorated by Roman artist Mario Spinetti who added the villa’s signature Ionic columns. Dubbed Villa Florus, Astor then turned the Pompei-style villa into a private museum for antiquities. At the Villa proper, Astor added hand painted frescoes, wood flooring and even a glass dining room with unobstructed views so that his guests could enjoy views of the Naples and the archipelago in the gulf.
When Astor passed in 1919, the antiquities and its surrounding gardens were designated as part of the country’s heritage and they remain untouched, that is to say, not maintained. The Villa Astor Sorrento was eventually purchased by shipping magnate Mario Pane in the 70s. Rita Pane, the shipping tycoon’s wife threw incredible soirees and receptions, entertaining the likes of Princess Margaret and stylish man about town Gianni Agnelli, a meticulous record of provenance kept within the pages of Rita’s guest book. After three decades, the Panes eventually sold Villa Astor in 2012.
The new owners then hired French architect and interior designer Jacques Garcia to restore and update the luxurious holiday home. Garcia’s generous use of marble columns, Greek and Roman statues and many other archaeological pieces in the renovations adds serious Italian patrimony and provenance to the luxury real estate towering above the gulf of Naples. Indeed, it’s the no-expense-spared, full scale renovation, restoration and decoration, no half-measures were taken in bringing back the grandeur that William Waldorf Astor had intended.
Inside Villa Astor Sorrento
Sleeps 12 with 6 bedrooms. Prices range from EUR 9,450 TO 17,500 per night
A classically elegant main entrance hall opens the ground floor of the Villa Astor Sorrento into two luxuriously furnished sitting rooms and a library, all with marble floors and feature fireplaces over which ornate gilt edged mirrors hang.
Proceed downstairs and you get to see a splendorous sitting area and dining room the way an ultra rich property tycoon intends. Naturally, your guests are served with by a large country-style kitchen with traditional black and white tiling. A music room for entertainment in the grand old style also exists with a grand piano along with the requisite large terrace facing the sea – the place venue for sundown cocktails overlooking the gulf of Naples or for romantic al fresco dining. Meanwhile, a basement with comfortable seating set in front of huge arched windows offers a beautiful view of the sea and Mount Vesuvius.
The first floor is home to two gorgeously appointed master bedrooms with walk-room wardrobes and en-suite bathrooms. On the second floor, four lavishly appointed but humbler double bedrooms are there to serve your guests. Obviously each room may carry old world aesthetics but they have not only been decadently designed but also equipped with modern integrated audio/visual systems.
Overlooking the gulf of Naples, it is easy to see why the 20,000m2 garden is among the top 10 finest botanical gardens in Italy, that said, with 180 degree sea views, one might be hard pressed to decide where to cast your focus. The icing of this piece of luxury real estate is this Italian holiday home’s amazing internal pool in a natural grotto, directly leading out to the sea. A roof-top terrace of the Villa Astor Sorrento also offers uninterrupted views of Sorrento and the Gulf of Naples.
Finally, a wellness suite in the basement with a gym equipped with the latest Precor equipment, a massage room and shower exist for short-stay pampering in true luxurious fashion. Villa Astor has an elevator serving all floors and secure parking for three cars.
[Book your stay at the Villa Astor Sorrento here.] Sleeps 12 with 6 bedrooms. Prices range from EUR 9,450 TO 17,500 per night
Guests can enjoy many activities in the local area from cooking lessons to hiking and visits to historical sites such as Pompeii and Herculanum.