Italy’s La Posta Vecchia: Italy’s luxury hotel wrapped in history

A visit to Italy must include a visit to La Posta Vecchia, “the Old Postal House", discvered by John Paul Getty’s, it is the perfect blend of the old and new filled with 17th century décor and the excavations of an ancient Roman villa.

Images courtesy of La Posta Vecchia

LADISPOLI, Italy, July 9, 2016 – Just exactly where is Ladispoli, you ask? Well, it is not as remote or unknown as you might think. In fact, it is situated on the Tyrrhenian Sea just 40 minutes outside of Rome.

It’s an ideal spot to end a visit to the “Eternal City,” thanks to its close proximity to Fiumicino Airport That said, it is not inexpensive, but if you can afford a deluxe five-star experience, then La Posta Vecchia is the place.

John Paul Getty
John Paul Getty

La Posta Vecchia translates to “the Old Postal House.” It is the perfect blend of the old and new, filled with 17th century décor and the excavations of an ancient Roman villa. La Posta Vecchia was also the former retirement home of J. Paul Getty, who bought the property in 1960 and restored it to its glorious past, including preserving the archaeological ruins.

Today, La Posta Vecchia is a luxurious five-star hotel with 19 uniquely decorated rooms and spectacular panoramic views. Each room is spacious and appointed with Renaissance furnishings, paintings, tapestries and antiques,

Spectacularly immaculate grounds border the historic building on one side with the gentle caress of sea winds on the other.

Reclusive industrial mogul John Paul Getty, who had unparalleled wealth, was a Europhile looking for a place to retire in the 1960s, when La Posta Vecchia beckoned and captured his imagination. The area, much like the Island of Capri three hours by car to the south off the coast of Naples, was beguiling to Roman emperors centuries ago.

During the time of Pompeius, Caesar and Marcus Aurelius, the area was known as Alsium. It was described as a “voluptuous seaside resort,” of which little remains other than the serenity of the surroundings and Getty’s former retirement residence.

So captivated was Getty by the history of his luxurious new-found retirement villa, he excavated the ruins beneath the floor of the building and turned it into a living museum of ancient Roman life.

A wealthy Italian prince built La Posta Vecchia around 1640 to serve as a refuge for visitors to his nearby castle. For nearly three centuries it remained a grand escape for the rich until it was almost destroyed by fire in 1918.

For the next four decades the property deteriorated until Getty discovered the ruins beneath the main floor and began excavations. A huge Roman villa was under the foundation, decorated with intricate mosaics and African and Greek marble.

With loving care, Getty converted the “basement” of his retirement villa into a first-century museum featuring pottery and other artifacts from the time and the ruins of the early villa.

The kitchen at La Posta Vecchia is every bit as elegant as the hotel itself. The Cesar Restaurant serves up dishes prepared with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs raised in the hotel’s organic garden. If you like, you can dine outdoors on the patio facing the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Getty lost interest in La Posta Vecchia in 1973, when he fled Italy to England following the kidnapping of his grandson. As a warning to the oil baron, the kidnappers sent Getty his grandson’s ear to let him know the consequences of failure to pay the ransom.

When Getty departed, he left his villa and grounds intact with its Flemish tapestries, antique furniture and artwork.

In tribute to Getty, La Posta Vecchia has been left without renovations to create a front reception desk, bar or gym. Rather it retains its character as a private home, which allows you to sense the presence of Getty himself while offering a welcoming atmosphere. You seem to be his personal guests.

There is also a huge indoor swimming pool and a spa to massage away any tension that remains, although it hardly seems likely that La Posta Vecchia could rub you the wrong way.

Some of Getty’s personal staff remain on the property and can offer fascinating stories about its history.

La Posta Vecchia is one of those places where everything old seems new again. From ancient ruins to 20th century entrepreneurship to the magic of Italy’s scenery and cuisine — La Posta Vecchia is an ideal place to say “Arrivederci, Roma.”

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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.

He is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (

His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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