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Whether in the worlds of food, fast cars or fashion the Italians are a pretty stylish bunch so it comes as no surprise that San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge (also known as White Deer) in the Dolomites is utterly immaculate.
And speaking of fashion, the owners of the lodge are a pair of fashionistas who have turned their attention from the catwalks of Milan to the dramatic landscapes of the Dolomites.
Originally a 16th century hunting lodge and set in 42 acres of woodland and meadows, the lodge has dramatic views across the confluence of three valleys and is an equally blissful haunt in summer or winter.
There are just four bedrooms including three en suite doubles and a great fun bunk room that's perfect for children. The look throughout is all wood and stone and feels both extremely authentic but also deeply stylish. This clever combo is also to the fore in the large spa room, the four (yup, four) sitting rooms, the boot room, outdoor hot tub and immaculate wine cellar. Open fires and complimentary cosy house slippers add to general feel of snugness.
Best of all, however, are the owners, the perfect double act of husband Stefano - every inch the thoughtful host - and wife Georgia verging on Michelin-starred brilliance in the kitchen. Meals are served in the wine cellar where Stefano will show his passion for regional wines. One highlight is a local sparkling wine made by a farmer at 3,600ft and not marketed or sold beyond the Tirol, but which recently came in the top ten of a blind tasting in Champagne itself. There are also endless local grappas to drink - in the name of research, naturally.
To counteract the over-indulgence, the extensive Dolomiti Superski Area is accessible a 15 minute drive away in winter, while in summer there are extensive trekking trails around the lodge. Stefano, with the zeal of a rural convert, leads guests on adventurous walks to pick mushrooms (in season) and climb trees (suitable for kids of all ages). Riding, zip-lining, and mountain biking are also available, but you just want to recline in the hot tub admiring the view with a glass of Tyrolean fizz in hand.
And so to the name. The Barbinis just happen to own the most immaculate charter catamaran in the Mediterranean, called Blue Deer; hence the name White Deer for their mountain property.
Why we love it
The lodge oozes sophistication, but with added touches of bling. Exhibit A: the helipad. Exhibit B: the new golf hole - modelled on the 18th at the Old Course, St Andrews.
Lucy G, Original Traveller