Who doesn’t have a renovation dream? I know I have. Since I was a teenager, I dreamt of re-establishing a historical villa somewhere in rural Italy. Then this dream was fuelled by movies such as Under the Tuscan Sun.., although until today I am still very far away from realising my restoration fantasy; however, it’s an honour to meet someone who makes this traveller’s dream – their dream too – come true.
Arriving Palazzo Albricci Peregrini
Only a 37-minute train ride from Milan, Kent and I found ourselves in this charming town, surrounded by medieval towers and Romanesque walls. ‘Here we are in Como!’ Our taxi driver took us and our luggage to Palazzo Albricci Peregrini – our temporary residence here, which is located in the heart of the old town; only steps away to Chiesa di San Fedele and a short walk to Cathedral of Como and that famous eponymous lake.
We received a very warm welcome from cheerful Paulina the minute we alighted our cab. Guided through the inner courtyard by Paulina, I was amazed at seeing a fresco on the arch; later found out it’s ‘La Madonna con san Pietro e san Matteo con nobildonne e gentiluomini‘, an original fresco of 1503, in great condition! Columns and capitals with carved heralds… ‘So much history here.’ I thought. ‘This is the oldest part of our courtyard.’ As we were told.
Leaving our bags we followed Paulina to the reception lounge off the second courtyard-and-garden for check in. Accompanied by glasses of a fresh homemade ginger brew and refreshing chocolate ice-cream bonbons. Just what we needed having travelled from Cinque Terre that very morning.
Paulina kindly went through the information about our accommodation and local area with us, and then Lidia appeared, our host – tanned, slim and stylish, an unmistakably Italian lady, who greeted us with the warmth which Italians are renowned. There was no rush for us to go to our room; instead, Lidia continued tour of the Palazzo: the kitchen, the Roman walls, the history…
We Found Roman Walls In This Kitchen
The accommodation wing of the Palazzo has been respectfully re-imagined into apartment-style rooms, an Urban Luxury House adjoined to the owner’s gorgeous villa. We were shown the flagstone outdoor dining area running alongside the accommodation. In the front courtyard are a number of high quality town bicycles with baskets for the house guests. Good news for Kent, who loved the bikes and especially Como’s bike friendly old town and lake front pathways. Behind reception in a what seems like an ancient grotto from the garden – watch your head – a drinks table, all the usual suspects and some native locals too; an open bar. Yes an open bar! Help yourself!
Lidia continued leading us on into the kitchen, saying: ‘We found evidence of Roman walls in this kitchen.’ We could see a set block of stone, in similar shape and size and were set in parallel courses; in which gave clues to the ancient Roman wall.’
Yes, Roman walls and Roman arches! This lower section which covers the kitchen and the indoor dining room has history of its own… ‘The entire area was covered by rubble; we removed one meter and a half of ground to bring the ancient Roman arches to light!’ Lidia informed us. We could only imagine the amount of work involved to bring the foregone past alive again. Whereas I personally just adore the look of those dark charcoal grey and orange stone walls.
There and then, I was intrigued and fascinated by this refurbishing story and couldn’t wait to discover more. Here’s our discovery of Palazzo Albricci Peregrini through the information we gathered during our 5-night stay.
A Brief History Of Palazzo Albricci Peregrini
Meet our host, lawyer Lidia and her engineer husband Maximiliano (‘call me Max’). The lovely couple have been living in this gorgeous villa for years…
‘Built with late-medieval architectural forms; renovated towards the end of the 15th-century, it continued to be embellished with decoration in the following centuries. Inherited by the Peregrini family. The high ranking church official, Bishop Albricci Peregrini who built the palazzo, was laid to rest in the Duomo di Milano when he passed away.’ While hearing this story about the background of their amazing house, Lidia opened the local history book ‘Como e la sua Storia‘, where their home is featured.
The left wing running at right angles to the main Palazzo overlooks the rear courtyard garden, this ‘was used as a commercial studio and private home until the owner decided to sell’, advised Lidia.
‘So instead of taking a risk of having conflict with our new neighbour… We decided to take it over, restore it and turn it into a guest house type of holiday accommodation.’ Explained Lidia and Max.
That’s how the idea of a Hotel, a Bed and Breakfast.., how it all started.
A Refurbishing Dream Becomes Reality
‘It took us two and a half years to complete.’ Max notified us. And that is including both restoration and redecoration. With Max as an engineer and daughter Ester an architect (and a son also studying architecture too), they certainly had a good start for a reconstruction assignment so rich in heritage.
‘Ester’s boyfriend Giovanni also contributed to the renovation project.’ Max added.
Ester having significant input with the interior decoration and the great jazzy tunes we would hear down in the breakfast areas.
‘A love for architecture and passion for renovating runs in our family!’ Max proudly said.
Judging by the selection of the art pieces such as beautiful paintings by artist Marco Solzi; fantastic decorating choices from linen window drapes to polished wooden floors and very stylish furnishings… ‘Unique, Cosy and Chic’ is how I’d like to put it. In my coming post, I will share my thoughts regarding the room we stayed, the facilities and service in detail.
Overall, Kent and I think the restoration project and re-imagining as a holiday accommodation a great success story!
The Difference Between A Hotel And A Bed & Breakfast
Is Palazzo Albricci Peregrini a Boutique Hotel or a luxury Bed and Breakfast? Simply due to there not being 24-hour concierge as you expect in a hotel; plus, considering each room is decorated with its own character and colour, and been given individual name such as La Verda, La Granda and so on, which again set a different tone from the uniform hotel rooms named mostly by numbers.
The service at the Palazzo Albricci Peregrini is outstanding. It has what a big hotels can often lack, which is a true personal relationship with its customers. The room in which we stayed – La Scrustada – is very elegant! The breakfast? It deserves a story of its own – fabulous!
Kent and I are very impressed with this boutique gem (and perhaps the best kept secret in Como) we found. I hope you enjoy exploring it through our journey.