Reader's Choice: Lasting Impressions By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth

Name: Villa Rospigliosi

Location: Pistoia, Italy

Year Built: 1667

Architect: Lorenzo Bernini

Why it's relevant: Villa epitomizes the ideas that majesty can be inviting and beauty comfortable.

Lorenzo Bernini designed what guidebooks call "the outstandingly beautiful Villa Rospigliosi" for Giulio Rospigliosi who became Pope Clemente IX.

The villa is builder Vincent Bellipani's favorite and inspires his work. Bellipani finds this and other Italian villas "soulful." "Often houses are technically correct but are missing a hard-to-define something that you recognize when you see it."

Located 30 kilometers west of Florence in Pistoia, builder Matteo de 'Rossi constructed the four-story, ocher-colored Villa Rospigliosi on Tuscan lands that have been in the Rospigliosi family since the 15th century. The villa includes an Italian garden replete with grapes, pears, apples, zucchini flowers, and figs, and there is a wonderful pond with stone fountain. Woodlands surround the estate, complete with its chapel and superb panoramic views. Today art students live in the villa three weeks at a time as part of their studies.

"Villa Rospigliosi is majestic but inviting," Bellipani says, beautiful yet practical and comfortable in its formality. And it very much recalls the sentiments expressed in Frances Mayes' book Under the Tuscan Sun. Bellipani, partnered with his twin brother Frank in the Baton Rouge, La.-based Old World Development, telephoned from Italy to be interviewed. He and Frank were roaming Tuscany, as they often do, to refresh themselves and search for more custom home ideas. The duo builds five or so homes each year based on their tours of the Old World.

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