Palazzo Margherita, built in 1892 in Bernalda by the Margherita family, is a true 19th century palazzo. The town was the birthplace and home to Agostino Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather, who always referred to it affectionately as “Bernalda bella.” Francis purchased the Palazzo in 2004 with the desire to transform it into a small, luxurious Italian boutique hotel, believing it was time to introduce visitors to this stunning and still undiscovered region.
The surrounding countryside, which was settled by the Greeks before the Roman era, is part of the Hellenic Magna Graecia—the coastal areas of Southern Italy—where the thriving local agriculture produces sumptuous fruits and vegetables, as well as the Aglianico grapes used to make wines of the same name. Nestled between the ancient cities of Metapontum and Matera, the area is rich with history, including haunting primordial cave dwellings called Sassi di Matera (meaning “stones of Matera”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Matera has been declared a European Capital of Culture for 2019.
The Palazzo boutique hotel in Italy has been completely restored by Francis Ford Coppola and acclaimed French designer Jacques Grange, creating a luxurious, authentically Italian experience that ushers guests into a private world of palatial comfort, surrounded by gardens, a courtyard, and a swimming pool, all just steps from a small, bustling town in which the visitor is a friend and neighbor rather than a tourist.
Francis wanted the Palazzo to become a place that his children would want to visit again and again, and therefore invited the whole family to contribute ideas to the design. It is this very sense of family that distinguishes Palazzo Margherita as one of the most charming small luxury hotels in Italy. The interior décor of Palazzo Margherita is styled with tiled floors as well as hand-painted fresco ceilings. Grange designed some of the exotic tiles and furniture, including one of the most beautiful suites, which is in a North African style to honor Francis’s Tunisian-born grandmother. All of the floors in the Palazzo have been restored from the original marble.