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General Management: Roman Couldlie
Villa Rossalia is located on the high hills of Plaka town, in the Cycladic island of Milos, Greece. It is in the very heart of the old city center, with its bustling life, cozy restaurants, narrow romantic causeways and streets, filled with artisan shops and night life. And yet the grounds of the Villa itself, offer a welcoming refuge from the noise and lights. Hidden behind the castle-like walls, monastic corridors and surrounded by two churches on both sides—the private church of the Villa, the catholic church of St. Rossalia and the large orthodox cathedral of Panagia Korfiatissa (Our Lady) on the other side—it is a true paradise of peace and relaxation. Positioned at the very edge, it has no neighbors upfront, and overlooks the stunning vista of the endless sea, many shadowy islands and the breathtaking sunset. The original structure of the building was part of the Venetian Castle dating back to 1310, built by the Sanudo family of Venice. The Sanudo family was related to the great Doges of Venice and ruled Milos for generations. This particular structure of the Villa was originally a canon storage area for the castle up the hill. The underground passage connected it with the castle complex. This explains the Villa’s strategic location—right on the cliff, facing the sea and the port entrance. This also explains its massive structure—Villa’s walls are 180 cm thick and built of solid volcanic stone. Later on, during the Napoleonic period, the structure was used for storing wine for the monastery and the church of St. Rossalia. Later, it was part of the residence of the French counsel on the island—Luis Brest. It was during those years, that the famous statue of the Venus of Milo was found (on April 8, 1820), and brought to the counsel’s house. According to reports, the statue was placed in the storage are (the present Villa Rossalia), where it stood awaiting its voyage to France, to end up at the Louvre. It was here on the grounds of present Villa Rossalia, then a storage space of the counsel’s estate, that the statue of Venus of Milo was first put together from parts, then sketched and recorded. Both the French naval officer Olivier Voutier, who with the help of the local peasant Yorgos Kentrotas, uncovered the statue, as well as the French naval officer Jules Dumont d’Urville, who recognized statue’s value and arranged for its purchase for France—did stay and visited at the estate of the French counsel Luis Brest—the present grounds of the Villa Rossalia. Thus the place is riddled with ancient history of great significance. Later, a monastic order of King Luis XVI was taking care of the church, transformed the estate of Luis Brest into a catholic school and monastic living quarters. The church of St. Rossalia was built by Luis Brest, both he and his daughter are buried inside of the church, while his young wife’s marble-laced tomb is placed in the church’s court yard. There were many rumors about her tragic romantic affair with the young dashing naval officer Olivier Voutier, who was the friend of the family and the famous discoverer of the Venice of Milo. It seems the statue held within it not only the enigmatic beauty, but the very potion of love, which spread upon all of those involved in its discovery. We would like to think that now that at the grounds of Villa Rossalia one can feel the residue of the Venice’s presence and magic power, experiencing romance and love as never before. This special “Venus touch” is omnipresent here, since long before the Venetians or French ever came to the island, a 5th century BC small shrine to Aphrodite (Venus, the goddess of love) stood here, on the very grounds of the present day Villa Rossalia. The scattered parts of the marble columns, which once adorned the shrine of the love goddess, can still be found around the courtyard, where now they were lovingly placed and put together by the present owner, who takes care of each historical element found in the area, restoring and preserving it. Some parts of the shrine, such as inscribed marble blocks were reused by the French in the construction of the St. Rossalia church, they could still be easily spotted, since some were used to create the church’s entrance steps. The present owner of the Villa Rossalia takes great and loving care of every element of the estate, keeping the courtyard clean and beautiful, planting and taking care of the garden, taking care and cleaning the historic tomb and the church inside, which is still open to the visitors from 9am to 9pm daily. Special ceremonies, weddings and mass are still held there, on certain days and by appointment. The church holds one of the true treasures of Italian renaissance art—a painting of “Madonna with a Child”—most likely brought to the island by the past Venetian landlords of the Villa the Sanudo family of the fabled Doge descent. The painting was identified as part of Leonardo’s school, most likely executed by one of his students. It is the virgin of the roses—hence the name of the church St. Rossalia and subsequently the Villa itself. The present owner has a certain sentimental attachment to this place, since Rossalia was one of the names of her own great-great grandmother (Countess Rossalia Hanska Mniszek), thus finding the property and purchasing it was ominous and symbolic in many ways. The Villa was acquired by the present owner together with her previous spouse, and was divided further into two, as a result of a divorce. The existing half of the Villa, which was remodeled by the present owner and is in her possession, comprises of two floors with two separate studio apartments located on each of the floors, each with its own lovely garden area and terrace.

Villa Rossalia’s First Floor (Ground Floor) studio apartment is currently under reconstruction, and comprises a lovely living room area with arched doors and old arched window, facing the lush garden upfront and the sea. Next to the window stand two chairs and a marble writing desk with an antique bronze mirror, an ideal location for inspirational writing. All doors and windows are of double glass and finished with a build in mosquito net. Further on, there is a fully equipped kitchen (oven, microwave, refrigerator, ventilation, lights, stone tile and counters, closets, cabinets, and kitchen supplies) and spacious bedroom with another large window, with a view to the sea and islands, king size bed with a romantic mosquito-net canopy over it, build in closets, in tables, reading lights, large mirrors reflecting the sea view on the walls. There is an extra large bathroom with the hydro-massage Jacuzzi tub (placed against open cave wall with its natural rock surface), mosaic and stone tiles, sink, toilet, cabinets, ample light features and the washer/drier laundry space. The studio is equipped with all the latest amenities, such as the high speed wireless Internet, landline telephone, satellite TV with over 250 international channels, air conditioning, remote control operated ceiling fan, ample light fixtures, full kitchen with electric oven, microwave, refrigerator, sink, electric exhaust and ventilation, cabinets, closets, etc. And yet the studio preserves its old traditional charm and historic character, with every part lovingly restored and preserved, stone walls and floor, original antique furniture and personal decor touches. The entrance door of the studio is facing a lovely garden, filled with blossoms of pink oleander and bright bougainvillea. The garden area was also split into two during the property division process, and now it is separated by the natural fence of white reeds and flowers, offering additional privacy and seclusion. A garden in front of the studio offers a lovely space for dinner and breakfast, set outside with a breathtaking view to the sea and amidst the blossoms of the orchard. It is also an ideal space for taking in the sun and tanning next to the outdoor mirror pool Jacuzzi, which seems to blend into the sea itself, allowing one to take in the full romance of the sunset. The outdoor area is further fully equipped with ample light features, including subtle floor light and shady pergola space, perfect for breakfast. Also the ground floor studio has a unique benefit of having two small garden areas, located on each of the studio’s sides. The small garden area on the other side of the Villa is concealed within the orchard and the trees; it offers a cool shady relaxation area, complete with a large double hammock under a fig tree and a small inn table with chairs, perfect for the afternoon frappé (famous ice-coffee). You can’t miss this little isle of shade and comfort, as it is located right on the way to the ground floor studio entrance, it is the first thing you see as you go down the steep street, from the main Plaka Cathedral of Panagia Korfiatissa (Our Lady)—famous grounds for the sunset watchers pilgrimage. The whole courtyard and the garden area, are inlayed with evening solar lights, lighting up the passage and the space around the studio, right after the sunset.

Villa Rossalia’s Second Floor (First Floor) studio apartment has a separate entrance and is located directly above the ground floor studio. It can be entered through the massive, old iron-laced gate that faces the main touristic street of the town, and then through a lovely old corridor, once part of the French monastery complex. Once the visitors step inside of the first floor courtyard they will truly be in unique world. Surrounded on one side by a 300-year old catholic church of St. Rossalia (from which the Villa takes its name), on the other side—by the stone Venetian archways and red hibiscus blossoms, opposite—by the lovely garden with a huge rosemary tree, two varieties of jasmine, honey-suckle, gardenia, oleanders and bougainvillea, and yet on the other side is the resting ground of the French marble tomb, with carved canopy and columns, belonging to the beautiful young wife of a French council Luis Brest—Catherine. Right in front of the Villa, opens the breathtaking vista of the endless sea and many shadowy islands, a perfect spot to view the sunset, while breathing in a heavily perfumed with blossoms, and herbs garden air. Next to the rosemary tree stands a comfortable outdoor sitting set, perfect for relaxation and contemplation while looking at the sea. There’s also a large double hammock and an inn table for the afternoon coffee. The whole courtyard and the garden area are inlayed with evening solar lights, lighting up the passage and the space around the studio, right after the sunset. A large outdoor lamp positioned right over the entrance door to the studio, also offers additional light. Next to a mirrored door of the first floor studio, stands a lovely round table with a chair and a lantern, perfect area for the breakfast or afternoon reading, surrounded by bright blossoms of geraniums from both sides. Right above the table, on the wall hangs an old hand painted mirror. When entering the studio apartment, the visitor is right away confronted by a stunning vista of the endless sea, as it is seen from the large glass door to the balcony-terrace. The space itself is divided into a small sitting area, large bedroom space with a Queen size bed, draped built-in closet space for clothing and linens, inn table and the reading lights, two mirrors on the walls reflecting the view of the sea, and visually expending the studio space. On the opposite wall, there are two long bar-table-like shelves made of the parts on an old fishing boat, and topped with old family memorabilia, antique globe (once a property of a famous writer Constantine Cavafy), and ample international books for reading. Exotic ethnic elements adorn the walls, from the hand carved Native American masks, brought by the present owner all the way from the Amazon, to primitive paintings, eclectic little treasures and old family photos. The space is filled with light, coming both, through the glass door of the balcony, and through the window of the entrance door. Even the traditional door window-shutters are finished with the mirror inlays, to further reflect the light and the view, giving an appearance of visual space expansion. The studio is equipped with the latest technology and amenities: high speed wireless Internet, satellite flat-screen TV with over 250 international channels, air conditioning, remote-control operated transparent ceiling fan, ample light fixtures. By the entrance there’s a kitchenette area, with a small refrigerator, coffee-maker, small gas stove and microwave—perfect for preparing or warming up your lunch, breakfast or dinner. All major shops and restaurants are right next door, delivery is also available directly to the studio. The studio has a lovely bathroom, designed in the Moroccan style, with original elements and carved bronze lamps brought from Casablanca. The walls of the bathroom are washed with deep blue color and covered in mosaic-like matching blue tiles, giving an overall feeling of a middle-eastern hammam. The bathroom has a shower area, sink with an oversized old mirror, ample hooks and towel holders, antique cabinet, the toilet and a small window facing the sea. All original elements of the studio such as the solid stone walls and the stone floor have been perfectly preserved and lovingly restored. A large glass door (equipped with the mosquito door as well) leads onto the spacious balcony-terrace area, furnished with a large sofa, topped with comfortable cushions, large dining table (filled with rare local archeological finds and topped with a thick glass for protection), table chairs and a soft reclining chair in the corner, with a small in table for relaxation and reading. The terrace is equipped with gentle floor light, allowing the visitor to see the stars and enjoy the romantic ambiance. It also has a large dining light and an ample supply of romantic candles and lanterns. This terrace offers the best view on the entire island to the sunset. The vista will truly take your breath away.
English Editing: Umur Celikyay