Friday, July 15, 2016

John Paul Getty’s beguiling villa in Italy: La Posta Vecchia

Twilight at La Posta Vecchia overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea  (

LADISPOLI, ITALY Most people have never heard of Ladispoli, Italy, but once you visit Hohn Paul Getty’s former retirement villa, you will never forget it. Situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea, LaPosta Vecchia is just 40 minutes outside of Rome and light years from its hustle and bustle.

It’s an ideal spot to end a visit to the “Eternal City” thanks to its close proximity to Fiumicino Airport That said, it is not inexpensive but if you can afford a deluxe five-star experience, then La Posta Vecchia is the place.
Perfect place to finish an Italian adventure  (

La Posta Vecchia translates to mean “the Old Postal House.” It is the perfect blend of the old and new filled with 17th century décor and the excavations of an ancient Roman villa. La Posta Vecchia was also the former retirement home of J. Paul Getty who bought the property in 1960 and restored it to its glorious past, including  preserving the archaeological ruins.

Today, La Posta Vecchia is a luxurious five-star hotel with 19 uniquely decorated rooms and spectacular panoramic views. Each room is spacious and appointed with Renaissance furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques,

Spectacularly immaculate grounds border the historic building on one side with the gentle caress of sea winds on the other.

Reclusive industrial mogul John Paul Getty, who had unparalleled wealth, was a Europhile looking for a place to retire in the 1960s when La Posta Vecchia beckoned and captured his imagination. The area, much like the Island of Capri three hours by car to the south off the coast of Naples, was beguiling to Roman emperors centuries ago.

During the time of Pompeius, Caesar and Marcus Aurelius, the area was known as Alsium. It was described as a “voluptuous seaside resort” of which little remains other than the serenity of the surroundings and Getty’s former retirement residence.
Industrialist J. Paul Getty  (wikipedia)

So captivated was Getty by the history of his luxurious new-found retirement villa, he excavated the ruins beneath the floor of the building and turned it into a living museum of ancient Roman life.

A wealthy Italian prince built La Posta Vecchia around 1640 to serve as a refuge for visitors to his nearby castle. For nearly three centuries it remained a grand escape for the rich until it was almost destroyed by fire in 1918.

For the next four decades the property deteriorated until Getty discovered the ruins beneath the main floor and began excavations which uncovered a huge Roman villa under the foundations that were decorated with intricate mosaics and African and Greek marble.

With loving care, Getty converted the “basement” of his retirement villa into a 1st century museum featuring pottery and other artifacts from the time as well as the ruins of the early villa.
Entrance to the excavation of ancient Rome beneath La Posta Vecchia  (
The kitchen at La Posta Vecchia is every bit as elegant as the hotel itself. The Cesar Restaurant serves up dishes prepared with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs that are farmed at the hotel’s organic garden. If you like you can dine outdoors on the patio facing the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Getty lost interest in La Posta Vecchia in 1973 when he fled Italy to England following the kidnapping of his grandson. As a warning to the oil baron, the kidnappers sent Getty his grandson’s ear to let him know the consequences for failure to pay the ransom.

When Getty departed, he left his villa and grounds intact with its Flemish tapestries, antique furniture and artwork.
The interior pool is large and exquisite  (
In tribute to Getty, La Posta Vecchia has been left without renovations to create a front reception desk, bar or gym. Rather it retains its character as a private home that allows you to sense the presence of Getty himself while offering a welcoming atmosphere that you are his personal guests.

There is also a huge indoor swimming pool and a spa to massage away any tension that remains, although it hardly seems likely that La Posta Vecchia could rub you the wrong way.

Some of Getty’s personal staff remain on the property and can offer fascinating stories about its history.
La Posta Vecchia is where time stands still as it peers to the eternal rhythms of the sea  (

La Posta Vecchia is one of those places where everything old seems new again. From ancient ruins to 20th century entrepreneurship to the magic of Italy’s scenery and cuisine. La Posta Vecchia is an ideal place to say “Arrivederci Roma.”