Merlano Relais is chosen by Julia Roberts, “Because it is a magical place among century-old olive trees and a fragrance reminiscent of Provence.” It is an inspiring place, an estate with beautiful gardens and the fragrances of lavender, sage, rosemary, and lemon wafting about in the air.
Hidden in the shadows of tall pine and lime trees, the new Merlano Relais is striking due to its enchanting architectural design. It is a country house with farming origins but which has been restored with class and elegance, still keeping in line with the original structure and materials such as its terracotta tiles, splendid marble, and wrought-iron fittings with elegant personal touches in the choicest of colors, materials, and furnishings. It is an elegant welcoming house, which became the home of the famous American actress Julia Roberts for a month this summer, who chose it as the base for her family while she was filming in Rome for her latest film “Eat, pray, love” produced by her friend Brad Pitt.
The Merlano was opened in May of this year and is an elegant period house, which lies in the heart of the Viterbo countryside, an hour’s drive from Rome and close to some important Etruscan archaeological sites, the splendid Villa Lante, Bomarzo Park, and the delightful town of Montefiascone. It has been in the Catalano Rossi Danielli family for many generations and dates back to the 1600s together with the main villa, which also stands on the large estate.
The skilful restoration of the house has created 5 bedrooms, 2 of which are suites. It is an intimate environment with not too many rooms for those people who enjoy their privacy, peace, and quiet along with a personalized service with every little detail being catered for. All of the rooms are unique and offer every comfort with prestigious fittings, antique furniture, and furnishings and ornaments personally selected by the owner, mainly from Paris.
It is this passion for the lands beyond the Alps, for the hues of the Earth from mahogany to glacè with grey and some lilac, sky-blue, and the deep scarlet of wild flowers and the passion for choosing the fittings, which are mostly in wrought-iron, that gives this country house its Provençal atmosphere. Everything has been carefully thought out, right down to the last detail. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the garden, country style. During the winter, the cozy living room welcomes the guests with its large fireplace – the place to enjoy an aperitif, listen to some music by the fireside, or for a relaxing read while breakfast is served in the adjoining dining room. The predominant color of the ground floor is a gentle aquamarine and boasts large French windows that overlook the garden.
The bedrooms are all on the upper floor and also have private access to the garden thanks to a rise in the land on which the house stands. Each room is characterized by one color, from grey and the lavender of the walls and furnishings in the master suite, with its four-poster bed, the living room with its fireplace and bathrooms in prestigious marbles, to the sandy colors and sugar paper of the suite, which is characterized by a wrought-iron couch. Burgandy and marron glacé, beige and grey, and olive green are the tones that have been chosen for the other rooms, each with their own identity with their lamp-shades, books, and ornaments on the bedside tables, desks, and bookshelves, which all add to the homey atmosphere. The rooms also have modern comforts such as satellite television, DVD and video machines, landline phones, and ADSL Internet.
A splendid open-air swimming pool can be found in the garden, while there is also a chef at the guests’ disposal for romantic dinners and special occasions. When it is time to relax or for a “remise en forme,” there are yoga courses, personal training sessions, and also the opportunity of booking ayurvedici massages and personalized health treatments.
The owner of the house, Mrs. Maria Renata Catalano, is from Siciliy and is a great gourmet. She organizes cookery courses for a minimum of 6 people using the produce from the estate, among which is the excellent extra-virgin Merlano DOP olive oil. It is possible to organize and book personalized naturalistic, archaeological, and wine and food itineraries in the nearby touristic locations. The Merlano has a transfer service for those guests coming from Rome who do not have their own transport. It is also possible to book days in Rome for shopping, sight-seeing, or evening shows.