Laura. Home of Stars. October 26th , 2017.
It was the King of Belgium, Leopold II, who was the first to discover Cap Ferrat near Nice in France. He bought it in order to build a palace worthy of his wealth, one of the most expensive also largest in the world, for he was the private owner of the Congo. After him came Russian Grand‐dukes, Italian princes, English lords, and French aristocrats married to ultra–rich Americans. The Riviera became fashionable, and high society appreciated this peninsula, covered with pine trees and almost unpopulated, in such a magnificent position between the casinos of Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo.
At present, three sumptuous villas from the Belle Epoque remain in this eternal golden triangle. The Ephrussi de Rothschild Foundation, which already has become the museum of the Fine Arts Academy. The former palace of King Leopold, at present the residence of the Marnier‐Lapostolle family. And Villa Maryland, recently restored by decorator Alberto Pinto and architect Olivier Clement Cacoub.
Built at a time when the “Promenade des Anglais“ was frequented by the subjects of the British Empire. This house has been commissioned by an Englishman to one of his compatriots. An architect residing in Florence, from whence he had 250 columns, capitals, and sculptures brought to the villa, dating from the late 18th–century.
Its patio, with its fountain and its delicate arches, through which one gets glimpses of the sea like a series of paintings. It’s red marmoreal columns. Its ochre and yellow colors, like those of Siena. Its mosaic, and imitation marble floors, all are a pastiche of Florentine palazzi, then so popular on the Conte d′Azur.
Villa Maryland was built on part of the hill which Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild had leveled at great cost in 1905. In order to be able to view the sea from Villefranche as well as from Beaulieu. Its garden, planted with cypresses and giant wistaria, clinging to centuries–old olive trees, go down by terraces to the little village of Saint Jean Cap Ferrat. It contains a large swimming pool surrounded by statues, a little bandstand reflected in a pool, Italian‐style, straight paths, French‐style, clipped hedges, rose bushes. And a lawn worthy of an English park, and also rare plants and Japanese–style miniature trees.
A Light, Lively Decor. Before being restored, the house itself was rather austere, in the manner of many Quattrocento palaces. It was stuffed with dark hangings. Alberto and Olivier decided to preserve the exterior and interior architecture intact, as a reminder of a large mansion in the south, but to make the interiors lighter, more alive, simpler.
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