Palazzo Terranova Umbria
An enduring love affair with Italy led Sarah Townsend to spend six years restoring a crumbling 18th-century property to its former glory. Today, the honey-hued palazzo is a tranquil hilltop retreat, complete with swimming pool. The nine rooms and three suites are painted in rich renaissance colours and are named after operas. The cast-iron fourposter beds and views of the rolling countryside from every window add to the romance of the place.
Palazzo Terranova, Perugia, Umbria (00 39 075 857 0083' www.palazzoterranova.com) Doubles from EUR295 (pounds 211), including breakfast
Bauer Il Palazzo Venice
For a taste of aristocratic Venetian style, check into the Bauer Il Palazzo. A private dock allows visitors to arrive at the 19th- century, faux-gothic palace in style via the Grand Canal. The owner, Francesca Bortolotto Possatti, who inherited the hotel from her grandfather, has created a world of understated elegance: Murano chandeliers, silk wall-hangings, mosaic floors, wood panelling, rich fabrics, marble bathrooms and Venetian antiques set a refined tone. At the heart of Venice and just steps from St Mark's Square, many of the hotel's rooms have balconies with romantic views over the Grand Canal.
Bauer Il Palazzo, Venice (00 39 041 520 7022' www.ilpalazzovenezia.com) Doubles from EUR430 (pounds 306), including breakfast
Palazzo Sasso Ravello
Palazzo Sasso is a 12th-century palace perched on 1,000ft-high cliffs in Ravello, overlooking the Amalfi Coast. The former residence of the Sasso clan, the property has passed through a succession of hotel owners, with early guests including Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence and Andre Gide. Today, it is a luxury retreat with 32 rooms and 11 suites, brimming with Vietri tiles, antique furniture, Frette linen and Bulgari toiletries. …