by Luisa Taliento

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A hilltop residence in one of the most spectacular landscapes of the region of Emilia-Romagna. Known, for obvious reasons, as the “Belvedere” (viewpoint) of Cesena, it is only a kilometre from that historic town centre yet it seems miles away from it all. Perhaps that was indeed the intention of Mario Bianchi, a native of Cesena, who had the villa built, a character whose longing for adventure led him to leave this place at the beginning of the 20th Century to seek fame and fortune in the USA and Great Britain, where, as Monty Banks, he made a name as an actor, dancer and film director. On returning home between the two World Wars with his wife, the British Actress Gracie Fields, he commissioned the architect Gualtiero Pontoni to build a villa as his holiday home. This house, its design reminiscent of a British stately home, has been meticulously renovated by Michele Manuzzi and Erika Galbucci and transformed into a delightful hotel, ideal for anyone who, just like Monty Banks, loves being surrounded by architectural and natural beauty.

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 A COUNTRY ESTATE

The villa is reached by way of a charming tree-lined drive.
The villa is surrounded by ample parkland and an agricultural estate producing olive oil and wine. A mere weekend break spent here delivers all the benefits of a longer holiday because these natural surroundings bring peace to the senses.

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The spacious rooms are furnished in elegant style, featuring marble and wood fittings and decorated in relaxing pale shades. After breakfast, you can plan a lovely day out, perhaps a bike ride among those hills that were so dear to Marco Pantani, or a few minutes’ drive will take you to those beaches whose charm draws you to them at any time of the year. Alternatively, you can explore the towns and villages around Cesena, little jewels just waiting to be discovered.

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On returning from your day out, you can relax in the spa or in the privacy of your room which has its own sauna.

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In the warmer months you can swim in the pool and enjoy a pre-dinner drink outdoors, gazing at the lovely sunset. Your day comes to a close in the restaurant run by chef Nicolas Cacchi who uses mainly local produce from the coast and the hillsides, from oily fish to the pork products of the Mora Romagnola. After dinner you can take a lovely rest in the garden, enjoying stunning views of the night sky, made possible by the villa’s elevated position and lack of air and light pollution. You might also give a thought to the genius of Monty Banks who, with such foresight, created this oasis of relaxation and delight.

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