Host Story: Villa Crespi


Villa Crespi is a historic home on the shores of Lake Orta, Italy, with picturesque views in each season of the year. A dream villa with unique architecture reminiscent of princely times and places in the quiet of a centuries-old park with a glimpse of the lake. The Villa offers an experience of Italian values: warmth, hospitality, passion for good food, well-being and love for beauty. You just can’t miss one of the Ayurvedic massages offered in the peace of the Wellness Suites; enjoy one of the dishes coming from the Southern and Northern cuisine; stay for a relaxing night in one of the Villa’s suites with its rich Moorish decorations or visit the village of Orta San Giulio, one of the most beautiful in Italy, and experience the many local activities of craftsmanship and culture.

Cinzia Primatesta Cannavacciuolo and her husband Antonino started this adventure together in 1999. Antonino, with his passion for cooking and Cinzia’s passion for hospitality, inherited from her hotelier parents, are the perfect match when it comes to creating an exceptional and unique boutique hotel and guest experience.

Opening and running a hotel was a challenge that Antonino and I accepted together. We were young and enterprising and we threw ourselves into this adventure, aware that it wouldn’t be easy. Over the years, we’ve worked with commitment and passion to achieve our results. Even today, we’ve got that same determination and love for our work that has always distinguished us. We’ve put it into the new projects we’re developing in the world of catering and hospitality.

The history of the hotel started In 1879, when Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, a pioneer in the cotton industry, commissioned the construction of this magnificent Moorish-style villa and surrounded it with a lovely green park where it would overlook his beloved Lake Orta. Dating back to the late 19th-century, this Moorish style, historic residence was a private home and over the centuries became an exclusive place of hospitality for poets, nobles and rulers. Its name resonated in some of the most illustrious houses in Northern Europe. Construction was entrusted to the architect Cavalier Angelo Colla, known as the best Lombard decorator.

The inspiration for the interiors comes from far away in time and place, directly from the fascinating Middle Eastern architecture of cities like Baghdad. The Villa’s first owner and founder, Cristoforo Benigno Crespi fell in love with these magical places and wanted to build them on Lake Orta. Architect Angelo Colla, was given a “blank check” to create an absolute masterpiece. The real unicum of this kind of Moorish-eclectic style where the incredibly detailed and intricate inlays and stuccos still take our breath away, even today.

The food is one of the highlights of your stay at Villa Crespi.
The food is one of the highlights of your stay at Villa Crespi


The kitchen has been Antonino’s kingdom here at Villa Crespi for the last twenty years. Before that, he travelled around Italy and Europe, in search of gastronomic innovation. He’s always paid great attention to the quality of his raw materials and the seasonality of his ingredients and he has never forgotten the products of his native land, Campania, and his adopted home, Piedmont. He offers contemporary Italian cuisine. He uses what science and technology have produced over time; modern dish presentations, looking for chromatic effects yet without wanting to create unnecessary structures or schemes, just as the dishes should be without nonsense or unnecessary words.

The same care is given to the specific needs of our guests, coming from all over the world and from different cultures as well as having intolerances or allergies. We currently have 1,800 different labels, which can be skillfully paired with the Chef’s creations with the help of his brigade and “explained” in the restaurant by the voice of the Maitre and his team.

We asked Cinzia if she had a favourite spot in the hotel: ‘Each corner of the Villa has its own charm; every room and suite in the house is different from the other. The Lounge bar with its new modern furniture and natural light, the veranda with its enchanting view of the lake, the garden with its lush greenery characterizing this oasis and the Wellness Suite with its peaceful atmosphere, the hall with the starry celino. As well as this the restaurant and kitchen all reflect the energy of the people who work here and the Minaret that stands towards heaven. This year it’ll have a whole new purpose and appearance.

Villa Crespi is an experience that begins as soon as you enter and will last forever as a memory. Moments of pleasure and well-being, along with the warm welcome of our staff who ‘live it’ and who passionately offer each and every day a service tailored to the wishes of our guests. Our guests are travellers passionate about good food and are looking for relaxation and wellness, for a break from the frenzy of every day, for a romantic weekend or even an experience involving all five senses. They come from all over the world, especially from the United States, England, Switzerland and from Italy. Many of them come back to celebrate special occasions, try seasonal menus, enjoy the beauty of the landscape, or even for a bit of pampering in winter and some relaxation in summer. Famous people, famous faces, travellers staying just for the night; a variety of people all important for us.’


Villa Crespi is creating new special experiences around Lake Orta, still relatively unknown, but close to Milan, Turin, Como and Switzerland.

Ayurvedic treatments in Villa Crespi

From hot air ballooning for the most daring, to hiking for mountain lovers to see the ibex climbing up the rock face, an event immortalized by the photographers of the famous National Geographic, to a helicopter flight to reach the highest mountain refuge in Europe on Monte Rosa. Or for the more leisurely a walk amongst the evocative vineyards south of the lake, where vines are grown with an ancient technique called the maggiorina.

For sports lovers, there are many activities including horseback riding, waterskiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing, as well as climbing or diving in one of the cleanest lakes in Europe.

We asked Cinzia why she decided to partner with Chic Retreats and what’s different about us?

With Chic Retreats we share the same passion for the world of travel; we offer unique experiences with particular attention to detail. Authentic places all over the world to discover and experience. Letting yourself be guided by an experienced and internal team who will leave you full of emotions.’

Book Villa Crespi now

Andrew is a firm believer that travelling like a local inevitably leads to the best off-the-beaten-path finds which truly make a destination remarkably more memorable. From traditional Indian festivals in humid Hyderabad to fresh seafood pasta by the Sorrentine Peninsula, he appreciates variety when travelling. He hasn't been everywhere, but it’s on the list.