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The Secret Garden

Anna Fendi's Villa Laetitia is a hidden gem in Rome.

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Anna Fendi’s Villa Laetitia is a hidden gem in Rome.


Laetitia stands for joy in Latin—which is what Anna Fendi hopes to pass on to the guests staying at her Villa Laetitia residence units in Rome.

“The rooms offer the intimacy of a home, and the garden is our big surprise….It muffles the sounds from the outside,” says Fendi.

 

Indeed, the villa overlooks the busy road that runs along the Tiber River, between Rome’s iconic Piazza del Popolo and the Vatican, but there’s no sign of the bustling city beyond the walls secluding Villa Laetitia.

Together with daughters Maria Teresa and Maria Ilaria, Fendi restored the 15 rooms of the former servants’ quarters and reopened Villa Laetitia last fall. She is currently restoring the main villa, which was built in 1911 by Armando Brasini, whose works blend touches of modernism, Roman Baroque, futurism and Liberty. “This villa is one of the few remaining jewels by that architect,” says Fendi, whose family owns the compound. The next 15 suites and a spa are also due to open soon. The rooms are all different from one another, although each is equipped with a kitchen and overlooks a private terrace.

Rates at Villa Laetitia range from 150 euros, or $198 at current exchange, to 350 euros, or $461, per night per room.

The interior design entirely reflects Fendi’s gusto for entertaining and her taste, as the rooms are decorated with furniture that the designer picked up at flea markets around the world; personal drawings by Karl Lagerfeld, the brand’s longtime creative director, and art pieces, including a framed Picasso scarf. The faithful restoration of the building was also pivotal for Fendi. “I had so much fun recovering the materials, which are all typical of this area and of the time the villa was built in,” says the petite and soft-spoken designer, who recovered beautiful Liberty-style windows, oak-tree boiserie and original tiles and grit floors.

Each apartment has a theme or is specially dedicated: There is a (Josef) Hoffmann room, a Karl (Lagerfeld) senior suite, a red-and-black Stendhal suite and a Garden suite, with furniture that is normally found outdoors. Her passion for 20th-century design shows in a Giò Colombo chair or an Ettore Sottsass table. Although the Fendi brand is not invasive, there are a number of Fendi Casa pieces, such as a padded, silver lizard-skin bed or shaved mink and pony armchairs.

The designer is the daughter of company founders Adele and Edoardo Fendi, and one of the five siblings who inherited the firm, and is the mother of Silvia Venturini Fendi, credited with the invention of the Baguette bag. She remains actively involved in the brand’s furniture line and already counts two bed-and-breakfast hotels on the island of Ponza, off the Neapolitan coast, one of which is also named Villa Laetitia.

“I need to keep busy all the time—it’s like a fever. I could just sit back and relax, but I can’t,” says Fendi with a chuckle.