In Gorizia, through an archway off a beautiful piazza, you pull up into a courtyard of luscious lawns and elegant palms. This 14th-century palazzo may have grand proportions, but the immediate feel is of an affectionately tended home. The amiable Contessa guides you past chandeliers and fresh flowers, broad stone staircases and miles of herringbone parquet to two light-filled bedrooms, each intended to delight. Wooden floors creak charmingly, sunlight floods in through soft white curtains, and bathrooms ooze thick fluffy towels and indulgent luxury: just bliss. ‘La dolce vita’ surrounds you here, with vineyards and good restaurants to visit, country walks to build up your appetite and operas and Roman history to quench cultural thirst. Do explore the palazzo’s Persian-style garden and ask the Contessa for a guided tour of the hand-drawn frescoes, the modern art and the memorabilia. Elegant, atmospheric Lantieri: Napoleon, Schiller and Casanova all stayed here – and wrote about it; but as you rest in the garden listening to birdsong, you will think yourself the only one to have discovered this Italian jewel.