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Piazza Mattei Palace, Rome, Italy on Vrbo: Let’s set the scene: It’s the last Christmas of the decade and you find yourself stuffed in the middle seat of a lumpy floral couch between two of your more colorful relatives. An ample amount of booze is being guzzled as a raging political debate blows between the opposing sides of your family tree, while the same Christmas carols you’ve heard a million times this season compete loudly in the background.
This vision from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come doesn’t quite put you in the mood to deck those halls with boughs of holly, does it? The nice thing about pulling a Scrooge and seeing your future is that you still have time to change it. This year, skip the weird uncles and store-bought eggnog and instead choose to welcome Santa in chic, Italian style at the Piazza Mattei Palace. The best part about this Roman palazzo is not its location or its luxurious comforts, it’s the six-night minimum required during the holidays, which gives you the perfect excuse to say, “Sorry, ma, can’t make the familial insanity this year.”
Built in the 16th-century, Piazza Mattei Palace manages to perfectly blend its Renaissance roots with a more modern sensibility. It’s an upstairs-downstairs situation that has nothing to do with the help. Rather, the lower reaches of the interior decor are all about channeling Jonathan Adler and Damien Hirst—modern art hangs on the walls and contemporary cool furnishings grace the large living room and the five bedrooms.
But one look towards the heavens and you’ll be transported back to the days of da Vinci. Who needs the Sistine Chapel when the upper walls and ceilings of your own living quarters have been frescoed by some of the most prominent Italian Mannerists of 16th-century Rome. In the living room, the tops of the walls are ringed by the original frescos painted by the Zuccari Brothers, pupils of Caravaggio. In the billiards room, the ceiling was a canvas for Cavaliere D’Arpino, a contemporary of Caravaggio’s, though one who didn’t quite achieve the same level of lasting fame as that mad painter.
A trip to Rome is all about the eating and drinking and soaking up the cultural sights, but getting a little R&R isn’t a bad idea either. (After all, there’s a reason you’re avoiding your family this year.) Not only are there plenty of places to lounge with a view (say “hello” to the charming and moderately famous Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei just outside your window), but the home also has a sauna and a room dedicated to leisurely battles of pool. (Ratchet those up to fierce at your own risk.)
Not only is Rome the ideal setting for a serene holiday this year, but the owners of Piazza Mattei Palace also share our view on cooking while on vacation—no, thank you! To that end, the house comes with a private chef as well as a concierge who can arrange special services like in-home wine and cheese tastings or massage treatments.
Sure, the holidays are all about spending time with the people you love. But Leonardo and Michelangelo and Raphael also have a piece of our hearts—surely they, too, deserve some quality time with us during the holidays. Or at least that’s what you can tell your nearest and dearest when they call you shouting over each other from the insane asylum formerly known as your family home.
Book Your Stay: Piazza Mattei Palace in Rome, Italy: $2,000/night via Vrbo