Invitation to J P’s Villa
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
La Posta Vecchia used to be the home of J. Paul Getty, he bought in the 1960’s when it was pretty much a ruin from an old friend; Prince Odescalchi of Roman Black nobility and his socialite wife, between them there were innumerable castles and villas from all over Italy to Croatia and Hungary. Thus one less. The villa overlooks the Tyrrenean Sea and is surrounded by acres of Italianate gardens. Getty spent five years and a true fortune on its restoration to make it a proper work of art. Even the stables got a two million dollar revamp. During the work it was discovered the house was sitting atop a 2nd century Roman villa. Foundations beneath, plus full of magnificent mosaics floors and unusual array of ancient cooking utensils, plates, amphorae, ampules, and relics.
Thus Getty created his own in house museum of artefacts, because at every turn there was more uncovered. But besides the Roman antiquities, he was inspired to classically decorate with antiques, paintings and tapestries of the highest caliber. He even had art critics find pieces from Royal Houses around Europe. He called it "A serene and heavenly home”. But spent very few nights there. After his death, the family ended up selling and it was converted to one of the most elegant hotels. Yet you still feel like you are in a private historical house of noble ownership.
All 19 bedrooms have an atmosphere of grandeur with wonderful views of the sea or gardens. My teal blue imperial style bed was heavenly, laying there you were luxuriating in a living museum. Inlaid marble floors and tables, polished terra cotta, alcoves with busts of Roman emperors Flavio Vespasiano and Agrippa all underscored your setting. There was always something that you needed to step forward and take a closer look to appreciate.
Dinner on the terrace seaside is magical – the waves, the starlight and outstanding food. Service is not pompous but pure class. A perfect place to decompress.
Most of the time that I’ve stayed here was due to its convenience to Civitavecchia, the Roman cruise ship port about 20 minutes away. But you can explore a little further afield here and with a little research; there is the Ferretti Ranch for a horseback ride into Braccio di Mare for a picnic or discover the Etruscan necropolis with 400 tombs and structures. I of course, chose the vineyards around Lazio.
We went out to Casale Cento Corvi just 15 minutes from Posta Vecchia, the vineyards are located in the territory of Cerveteri in a hilly landscape that protects the vineyards and soils of volcanic origins. The cellar takes name from an old farmhouse built by the Orsini Family around the year 1400 upon an ancient Etruscan temple located on the way between Cerveteri and Pyrgi. The farmhouse was originally a granary, which attracted black crows, Corvi in the Italian language, and this is why the granary and the area around are called “Cento Corvi”, hundreds of crows.
Our hostess, Giorgia was the most charming and passionate about the family’s wines. Along with a tour we had a tasting of wines with local artisanal products and cheese. A very pleasant interlude with tasting of the old varietals. They are going back to the old indigenous varieties from their grandfathers. We fell for Giacchè, a traditional red lush grape variety of winemakers in Cerveteri. The Collacciani family for three generations were making this wine, and when it fell out of favor for international varietals they knew how good it was and took a stand to continue forward. The variety in DNA analysis confirmed that it is an old varietal known as Lambrusco Maestri and because Casale Cento Corvi registered the name for a wine it has produced since 2013, thereby securing its exclusive right to use the “Giacchè” appellative. Thus a few bottles were secured as my own “art” treasures for the trip home.