For His Next Hotel, Francis Ford Coppola Goes Home

Article excerpt

Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, Italy, is the fifth of the filmmaker's hotels.

Besides being a filmmaker and a winemaker, Francis Ford Coppola has owned hotels and resorts since the 1980s. With his latest, Palazzo Margherita (palazzomargherita.com), in Bernalda, Italy, he now owns five properties. His first, the Blancaneaux Lodge in Belize, was a result of his developing an affinity for the jungle, "as people do," he said, while filming "Apocalypse Now" in the Philippines 35 years ago.

The latest, in the Basilicata region of Italy near the boot's arch, was inspired by family. "This is where my father's father, Agostino, came from before he immigrated to America," he said. "So when I was about 21, working for Roger Corman, I came to Europe for the first time and took the ferry over the Adriatic to see what had become like a mythical place to me."

The reality lived up to the myth.Bernalda's local feel, its food and wine and the countryside have kept him coming back. Below are excerpts from a conversation about why he finds this region of Italy so enchanting.

Q. Why Bernalda?

People have been visiting Italy as tourists for probably thousands of years, and there are parts that are hardened to that. But when you walk outside the gate here, you're right in the middle of a real town, with real Italians who will invite you to their house for dinner.

Q. What's it like?

A.It's a little medieval hilltop city with a castle right there near the Ionian Sea. It was always very poor, so the people have, over the years, provided their own entertainment. There's always a street being blocked off for music or dancing. …