Friday, October 13, 2017

Escape to Roman ruins and the Tyrrhenian Sea at La Posta Vecchia

Twilight at La Posta Vecchia, once the villa of John Paul Getty
LADISPOLI, iTALY  Tucked away on the outskirts of Rome, just a short drive from Fiumucino International Airport, sits a magnificent 17th century villa that was once part of the ancient port city of Alsium. Originally the port was Etruscan but later became Roman.
Overlooking the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, this grand seaside palace known as La Posta Vecchia (the old post house), was sold in 1693 and devastated by fire in 1918 before industrialist John Paul Getty renovated it into his private resort residence in the 1960s.
The main entrance beckons visitors to enter
(Leading Hotels of the World)
The former carriage house for mail stages traveling along the coast north of Rome, is much more than the contemporary, elegant 5-star hotel it has become since Getty's death, however.
J. Paul Getty
When the eccentric billionaire took ownership, he discovered beneath the floors of his new home, the ruins of two 2nd century Roman villas. 
Intrigued by his discovery, Getty began excavating the property under the supervision of the Archaeological Authority  only to unearth remains of colorful mosaics and a stunning array of African and Greek marble including a vast collection of plates and vases.
Artifacts abound beneath La Posta Vecchia  (Pelicano Hotels)
Further research showed that La Posta Vecchia had been built over the ruins of an ancient Roman City in the town of Palo Laziale. 
Rather than give his priceless discovery to a museum, Getty converted the basement of his villa into a private museum which is now an intricate feature to be enjoyed by guests and visitors to La Posta Vecchia.
Mosaics were part of the
discovery  (Pelicano Hotels)
Given the size of the ruins and the type of artifacts that were uncovered, it is believed that the original structure once belonged to a wealthy and influential Roman nobleman. As such, that part of La Posta Vecchia's legacy continues into the 21st century.
By the 17th century the outbuildings of Odescalchi Castle had been built over the original villa and the two Roman estates disappeared until Getty unearthed his buried treasure.
Entrance to the ruins at La Posta Vecchia  (wikipedia)
In essence, this story is uniquely Italian, for much like the country itself, La Posta Vecchia has undergone its own Renaissance.
Getty, along with art historian Federico Zeri, lovingly appointed the living spaces of the villa with a mixture of contemporary and classical furnishings. Each guest room is unique with a full compliment of 16th and 17th century furniture. Rooms are bright and spacious with magnificent views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Stunning indoor pool
(Pelicano Hotels)
Much of the charm of La Posta Vecchia however, lies in its lack of pretense. Though elegant and sophisticated with its state-of-the-art facilities, it is not ostentatious or pompous in its character. Here is a place where comfort is of the essence, amid a casual atmosphere that blends harmoniously with virtually every century of La Posta Vecchia's history.
Relaxing by the sea
The hotel today is essentially as Getty left it, with few of the trappings of the modern hotel industry other than the necessities required for comfortable contemporary living. La Posta Vecchia thrives within its own authenticity.
La Posta Vecchia specializes in dining and weddings
(Pelicano Hotels)
Amenities include a private beach, a stunning indoor pool where you can watch the sunrise if you like, horseback riding in the surf and boat services along the picturesque coastline.
Seaside luxury and elegance await at La Posta Vecchia
(Pelicano Hotels)
Tennis courts are available on the grounds and golf can be arranged at a nearby course. The spa is also a top-notch facility for those interested in participating in wellness as only Italy can offer it.
The underground treasure of two Roman villas (Pelicano Hotels) 
Rome is only 40 minutes away by car which makes La Posta Vecchia an ideal escape from the "madding crowds" yet accessible to all the sightseeing and artistic wonders of the "Eternal City."

Keep in mind that you are not isolated from culinary delights at the villa however. The Cesar Restaurant has a Michelin-rated kitchen that will satisfy the most discriminating of palates.
Manicured landscaping, Roman architecture and elegant
surroundings are hallmarks of La Posta Vecchia
(Pelicano Hotels)
Here's a tip, even if you prefer a closer proximity to Rome's vibrancy and amenities, consider treating yourself to a gala farewell adventure before departing for home the next day.
Traffic will probably be lighter and so will your heart because La Posta Vecchia is one of those lifetime memories you will never forget.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Grand Hotel Giessbach and its waterfall in central Switzerland

Grand Hotel Giessbach on Lake Brienz recalls a golden age of travel  (Taylor)
BRIENZ, SWITZERLAND  One of the most popular trends in travel these days is finding a central location as a base and doing day trips without having to change hotels. The town of Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland derives its name from being situated between two lakes; the Lake of Thun and the Lake of Brienz. Not only are the lakes beautiful destinations within themselves, they are also gateways to a multitude of things to see and do.
Giessbach Falls is part of the attraction  (Taylor)
Visitors to Switzerland can journey to Interlaken by train from Brienz or they can arrive and depart from Interlaken on regularly scheduled lake steamers that make circular routes around the lake.

Regardless of whether you opt to cruise from Interlaken or from Brienz, here's a little travel tip to put in your planning repertoire that is guaranteed to amaze and delight your traveling companions; take time to stop at the Grand Hotel Giessbach and the myriad of waterfalls that spill beside it into the Lake of Brienz.
Boats offer regular service
It's easy to do and well worth a night at the hotel if you can afford the time. At the very least, a brief hour or two stop for a snack and coffee is well worth the diversion. 
From Interlaken, Hotel Giessbach and its breathtaking waterfalls will sneak up on you if you are not prepared in advance. The Brienz side of the lake, though no less spectacular, does give an uninitiated traveler a bit more warning.
High above the Lake of Brienz  (Taylor)
Best of all is knowing about the falls and hotel ahead of time so you can be sure to be on deck when the boat docs at the landing.

Now nearly a century and a half old, Grand Hotel Giessbach was built by noted French architect Horace Edouard Davinet in 1873/74 for the Hauser family of Zurich, one of the great hotel dynasties of its day.
Grand Hotel Giessbach

Set among harmonious landscapes of architecture, parks and waterfalls, the Giessbach Hotel quickly became a favorite hideaway for high society. When World War I broke out in 1914, the hotel was a playground for emperors and kings, statesman and diplomats and celebrities from every discipline of the entertainment world.

Artists, poets and writers spent their summers amid the cool surroundings of forested greenery and plunging waters that spilled into the crystal clear Lake of Brienz.

Original funicular to Grand Hotel Geissbach
Though Switzerland was neutral through both world wars, the dynamics of the conflicts took their toll and the golden age of hotels quickly declined. Grand Hotel Giessbach closed its doors in 1979 with plans for demolition that would be replace it with a contemporary concrete structure in the style of a "jumbo" chalet.
The first split rail track
Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and Swiss ecologist Franz Weber was successful in purchasing the 54-acre property with the idea of renovating it and restoring it to its original splendor as a "gift" to the Swiss people.

By May of 1984, Grand Hotel Giessbach had been restored to its historic grandeur including the new Park Restaurant and a small number of unrenovated rooms. Each winter, for the next seven years, the hotel underwent restoration until it had, at long last, regained its proper place among the most beautiful and best known buildings in Switzerland.
Dinner is served at Hotel Geissbach  (Taylor)
Part of the fun of visiting the grand hotel is getting there. Arrive at the landing by boat and disembark to the oldest funicular in Europe that is used only by tourists. Established in 1879, the Giessbachbahn was the first railway in the world to have a passing loop in the middle, a feature that is now standard on almost every funicular.
Arriving is part of the fun

The train connects the lake with the hotel which is partially hidden approximately 110 yards above the lake. Though Europe itself has four other trains that are older, the Giessbachbahn remains the oldest funicular in Switzerland that is still in operation.

Surrounded by mountains, forests and alpine meadows with breathtaking views of the unspoiled Lake of Brienz, this rescued oasis is located far away from hustle and bustle of everyday life and traffic. Since the 19th century, a footpath has led to and under the waterfall featuring 14 steps of the falls themselves. Each step along the route has been named for a different hero in Bernese history.
The quaint woodcarvers village of Brienz  (wikipedia)
Spilling the waters of the Giessbach Brook more that 600 yards out of the high valleys of the Faulhorn area to the Lake of Brienz, Giessbach Falls is a superb place to use as a base to visit the woodcarver's village of Brienz, the Sherlock Holmes town of Meiringen and Reichenbach Falls, the Brienzer-Rothorn train that steams high above both lakes, the Schilthorn, the Jungfraujoch, the Lauterbrunnen Valley and to cruise along its sister Lake of Thun.
Giessbach Falls and its Grand Hotel capture your heart and your
imagination  (Taylor)
The Giessbach Falls and the Grand Hotel Giessbach are the sort of discoveries that make travelers return again and again.