B&B and Beyond: Le Nuvole, Italy

This 16th-century palazzo, converted into a guesthouse by a Genoese family, allows Holly Williams to stay in style

Don't we all secretly feel like we deserve to live in a palace? Well, in Genoa, you can now rest your head in grand, historic style. The fourth floor of the Lamba Doria Palace, in the heart of the city's medieval old town, has just been transformed into Le Nuvole, a B&B that combines careful restoration of the palazzo's historical features – including original frescos – with chic, contemporary Italian style.

It is one of Genoa's "Rolli Palaces", 42 of which are protected by Unesco. These noble residences, with high ceilings, grand staircases and elaborate stucco ornamentation, were on an official list (the rolli) of palaces where visiting dignitaries could stay during Genoa's Golden Age, between 1575 and 1664, when its wealthy merchants became the bankers for much of Europe.

THE BED

Le Nuvole's 12 rooms marry a rich history with mid-century modern and contemporary styling. With bathrooms newly built within each room, the restoration involved reconfiguring the space – mezzanine levels were added above the bathrooms, taking advantage of the enormously high ceilings. These open-plan upper levels may house your bed, or just extra living space. Our junior suite featured an over-sized floor lamp arcing over two wing-shaped walnut and leather chairs, contrasting with pale stucco flower garlands twirling up the wall. A large bathroom, with an enormous tub and monsoon shower, was clad in slate-grey tiles.

There's no in-room refreshment, but you can help yourself to drinks and snacks from the breakfast room at any time. Rooms are spacious, with marble floors, tall windows and classic pieces such as Arne Jacobsen Egg-style chairs and Eames-esque loungers.

'A rich history with mid-century modern and contemporary styling' 'A rich history with mid-century modern and contemporary styling' THE BREAKFAST

A buffet of fruit salad, yoghurt, cereal and toast is given a decadent touch with a homemade, daily-changing delicacy: apple pie, melting almond biscuits or apple fritters. Best of all is the fresh, salty focaccia – a Genoese speciality – which the host recommends dunking in cappuccino. It works a treat.

THE HOSTS

Matteo Paini was brought up in Genoa, but left the city for an international career as a photographer. He was drawn back by the project, taken on with his retired father, to restore the palace. Paini now runs the B&B; his dad helps out by baking those delicious treats for guests.

The renovation took two years. Restoring the pretty plaster-work was a major undertaking in itself: "there were fifty layers of paint that had to be cleaned off", he explains. With a photographer's eye, Paini had fun decorating, trawling Italian furniture factories to give Le Nuvole its smart, modern feel.

THE WEEKEND

Genoa is less on the tourist map than rivals such as Venice, but there's plenty to entice. Its medieval centre is a warren of tall buildings and tiny winding streets, known as caruggi. The Old Town is home to lively bars – try the buzzing Piazza delle Erbe for a taste of nightime café culture. The Porto Antico harbour area was re-designed by Shard architect, Renzo Piano, in 1992, and is home to a world-class aquarium (00 39 010 23451; acquariodigenova.it).

Via Garibaldi is the main street for Rolli Palaces – some are in private hands, but you can venture in others. Historic sights include Palazzo Ducale (www.palazzoducale.genova.it) – the Doge's palace – and the splendidly humbug-striped San Lorenzo Cathedral (00 39 010 557 2903; turis mo.provincia.genova.it). See www.visitgenoa.it or www.turismoinliguria.it for more information.

THE PIT STOP

Embrace the carbs: as well as the fantastic focaccia – try it with different toppings for an on-the-go lunch, Genoa is also the home of pesto. Verdant trofie al pesto is a menu staple. Rosmarino, on Salita del Fondaco 30, is the place to try it, with pasta dishes from €9 (00 39 010 251 0475; www.trattoriarosmarino.it).

Around the corner from Le Nuvole, in Piazza Campetto, is new cocktail bar Les Rouges, run by red-headed Italian brothers (00 39 32 9349 0644; lesrouges.it). Another old palazzo, its beautiful, if flaking, ceiling fresco draws you in, but you'll stay for their mixing skills and negronis (€6.50).

THE ESSENTIALS

Le Nuvole, Piazza delle Vigne, Genoa, Italy (00 39 010 2510018; hotellenuvole.it). B&B doubles from €85.

Holly Williams was a guest of British Airways, which offers return flights from Gatwick from £89 (0844 493 0787; ba.com).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
News
people
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Rock to play DC character in superhero film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor