New Year's resolutions come in all varieties. If yours involves the (probably outlandish) goal of living like European nobility, here are five stunning Continental residences, each once inhabited by one of Europe's many countesses. Some are for sale, a few for exorbitant sums, while others, like this pink palace on the exclusive Italian island of Capri,
are up for rent. The nine-bedroom, nine-bath mansion sits
on a prime, perfectly landscaped lot high on the island's cliffs, with views of the surrounding sea and across to Mount Vesuvius. The countess in this case was the American-born clotheshorse Mona von Bismarck, a Kentucky native who emigrated to Europe and married Count Albrecht Edzard Heinrich Karl, Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, the grandson of German chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Dating to the 18th century, the villa is also said to be the place that inspired Georges Bizet to compose his most famous opera, Carmen.
↑ One of Capri's less trafficked nearby neighbors, Ischia,
plays host to this sprawling, 11-bedroom compound, known as Villa Contessa. The mansion's namesake isn't named
in the brokerbabble, but she apparently "was in a romantic relationship with the brother of the King of England and lived here until the end of the '70s." With space for up to 21 guests, the Villa Contessa rents for a heady $40K per week and includes expansive water-view patio space and a large swimming pool. Unfortunately, the washed-out listing photos probably won't have the "$40K-per-week" set taking a chance on this Ischian paradise any time soon.
↑ Completed in 1960 on a sandy spit of land south of Rome, the Villa Volpi
was commissioned by Countess Nathalie Volpi di Misurata, the wife of the founder of the Venice Film Festival. It was designed by the noted Milanese architect Tomaso Buzzi and occupies 26 acres of wild seafront landscape, with 1,300-feet of beach at the end of a dramatic set of stairs. Despite the midcentury build date, the villa reads much older, with detailed brickwork and craftsmanship that belie its youth. As of last February, the epic seaside residence was listed
for $26.4M, but has since disappeared from listings, suggesting that it may have finally sold, after many years on the market.
↑ Despite being located in the French Riviera town of Vence, this stucco villa was actually built by an Italian countess, who completed the "Florentine-style" home in the 1950s. Well kept and thoroughly updated, the house boasts six bedrooms—including two master suites—nine total bathrooms, a library, a solarium, and a gourmet kitchen complete with a pricey La Cornue stove. Listed for $8.45M,
the estate can be added onto with the additional purchase of a separate guest house and vacant lot.
—the Quinta da Princesa
was remodeled in grand style by King Fernando II of Portugal for his mistress and later wife Countess d'Edla, a popular opera singer previously known by the name Elisa Hensler. Located in Sintra, a tony suburb of Lisbon, the pink mansion included
a "a secret lover's passage connecting the palace with [the] royal palace." Today the sprawling palace is nearly overgrown, but perhaps even more charming than ever because of it. It still has nearly 15,000-square-feet of well-proportioned interiors, 13 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, "a ballroom-sized drawing room", and over an acre of unkempt gardens.
↑ Beautifully dilapidated—and still hideously expensive at
· Villa YPI CAM [Wimco]
· Villa YPI CON [Wimco]
· A Roman Palace With Labyrinths Is Listed at $26.4 Million [Business Insider]
· An Incredible Italian Style Villa With Panoramic V [Sotheby's International Realty]
· Quinta da Princesa [Sotheby's International Realty]
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