Inside Montecito’s Villa Bencistà

Most dreams of living “la dolce vita” involve an escape to the Italian countryside, but this magnificent 12,247-square-foot villa in Southern California affords a more approachable stateside version of the sweet life. The centerpiece of the 4.18-acre property, ensconced in the rolling hills of Montecito, is a home of majestic proportions and style, enveloped by stately cypress and native trees and dramatic, colorful grounds.

Montecito, California | Dusty BakerSotheby’s International Realty – Montecito – Coast Village Road Brokerage

The residence at the heart of the estate is a feat of architectural trompe l’oeil, replicating the ambience and every element of a quintessential Italian villa: vine-draped exterior walls, a cobblestone courtyard, earthy barrel roof tiles, regal columns, glass-and-wrought-iron entry doors, arched windows and doorways, towering ceilings with stalwart beams, French doors at every turn, floors of marble and polished wide-plank hardwood, richly hued wood paneling, hand-carved stone fireplaces, a grand staircase with an ornate iron railing, antique crystal chandeliers, and iconic balustrades. Among the alluring, classically appointed public spaces are a welcoming entry gallery, formal living and dining rooms opening to a glorious loggia with vaulted ceilings, a library, and a family room that adjoins the kitchen.

Each of the five bedrooms in the home is a serene, luxurious refuge, every bath replete with elegant touches. The main-level owner’s suite features an antique mantel and chandelier, French doors to a private terrace and loggia, and two lavish marble baths offering a shower, a soaking tub, custom walk-in closets, and access to the balcony. Secluded on the lower level, the four guest suites boast distinctive design motifs and palettes.

The villa’s reverence for Old World classicism does not preclude a dedication to modern conveniences and amenities. The impeccably transformed kitchen is outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances, designer fixtures, custom cabinetry and countertops, and a butler’s pantry. The anchor of the home’s lower level is a theater equipped with a professional-grade Crestron sound system and a Stewart CineCurve screen. Nearby are a thoughtfully appointed wine cellar and a bar perfect for entertaining. Classical touches still make appearances—in the ornate carving of the kitchen’s hood, in the vintage crest inlaid in the backsplash, and in the rugged stone fireplace that warms the home theater.

The villa’s numerous loggias, terraces, and balconies offer opportunities to appreciate the idyllic surroundings and views. Amid lusciously colorful landscaping, twin 1,000-square-foot guesthouses flank the refreshing swimming pool, offering an additional bedroom suite, a secluded spa courtyard, a spacious private gym, and—of course—stylish space for accommodating poolside festivities. Beyond lie an expansive lawn, a sports court, a gazebo, and a detached two-car garage, which augments the garage space offered by the main residence. The impressive thriving orchards—including olive, avocado, citrus, and stone fruit trees—and its rose garden are easily maintained by a private 9,000-gallon freshwater well.

Crowning the main residence is a rooftop terrace with a fireplace and a stunning 360-degree panorama that stretches across Montecito and Santa Barbara, encompassing the Santa Ynez Mountains, nearby beaches, the majestic the Pacific Ocean. This is a perfect vantage point for appreciating all the attractions and conveniences that are mere moments away—not that there would ever be a need to leave home.

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