From the moment we arrived, I knew our time at Galleria Arnaboldi would be a stay to remember. And it wasn’t just small details like the fresh lilies on the table, expansive fruit platter or friendly staff that indicated this would be the case. After all, it’s not every day that your Italian accommodation is located in the heart of an ancient palace in old town Pavia…
Galleria Arnaboldi: A Maison d’Hôtes in the Heart of Pavia
Galleria Arnaboldi is located in the north-east wing of a palace constructed for Count Bernardo Arnaboldi Gazzaniga and was built during the 19th-Century. As a result, sumptuous details such as mouldings, high ceilings, and a hint of history still remain in all the rooms, meaning that this is where you should stay in Pavia if you love history.
Based on the French ‘Maison d’Hôtes’ formula, the idea of the accommodation is that you live the experience of staying in a secret spot that only locals know about, with all of the trimmings of a luxury hotel. The luxury B&B/ Guest-house style is such that it is perfect for those who want to be left alone for the most part but would love dinner recommendations from locals, as well as room service if they so desire.
But the real draw of Galleria Arnaboldi, and its sister accommodation, Le Stanze del Cardinale, is the sheer attention to detail that the owners have placed in decorating each and every room in a way that feels authentic to the property while remaining lavish. Paintings dating back hundreds of years adorn the walls, and the furniture is all hand selected.
The Duplex Suite
The luxury of a four or five-star hotel complete with the feel of a French-style Maison d’Hôtes, Galleria Arnaboldi is home to two expansive suites, as well as an apartment for those wishing to stay in Pavia for a little while longer. During our stay, we slept in the accommodation’s second suite, which comes equipped with a fireplace, mezzanine, and an extensive list of amenities.
The duplex suite is home to a double bed on the top floor, while a spiralling staircase will take you down to the main part of the room. In it, you’ll find a further single bed, writing desk, ample sofa space and the room’s bathroom (which comes fully stocked with soap, shampoo and other goodies). Fresh lilies, vintage paintings, speedy wifi: there was all this and more.
In the corner, there was a coffee machine fully stocked with various hot drinks, and plenty of books were left for our perusal. The room even had floor-to-ceiling length windows which opened out straight onto the balcony/ terrace that runs the lengths of the Maison d’Hôtes. I definitely took advantage of the good weather we were enjoying and opted to have my first coffee of the morning sat in the sun, admiring the secluded view onto Piazza del Lino.
The buffet breakfast was presented in the lounge area of the accommodation, which is shared with the other suite. This full-length room offers views onto the interior of the covered courtyard of the Arnaboldi Palace, as well as views onto the nearby Piazza del Lindo.
Breakfast can be enjoyed in your room, on the terrace (though it was a little chilly to do this in January!) or in the beautiful breakfast suite. I ate my croissant, fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals amongst centuries-old paintings and under a glitzy chandelier- perfect for starting a day of adventurous exploration in Pavia!
Pavia is an ancient university town just half an hour by train from the Lombardy region capital of Milan. It may be a short distance away in terms of kilometres, but the ambience of the city ensures that a wander through Pavia is akin to stepping back in time.
See the Medieval Towers: Once dubbed ‘the city of a hundred towers’ during medieval times thanks to its sheer number of medieval towers, today just a handful survive. However, a medieval painting depicting the towers in the middle ages can be found at the back of the San Teodoro church.
Wander around the Old Town: Like many Italian settlements, Pavia is best explored on foot, and indeed much of the old town is largely pedestrianised. Stroll around and admire (or even wander into) many of the chapels, churches, and ancient college buildings that dot the city. You can even walk across a perfect reconstruction of a medieval covered bridge that was sadly destroyed during WWII.
Take a trip to Certosa di Pavia: One of the most beautiful Italian Renaissance buildings and most stunning monasteries in Europe is located just 8 km North of Pavia. Take a day trip to the Certosa di Pavia for incredible architecture and a trip back in time that spans over seven centuries.
Admire the Duomo: Like many towns in the North of Italy, Pavia is home to an impressive Duomo, though this one is the second largest in Italy! (Second only to the Duomo of Milano- Saint Peter’s is technically in Vatican City!). Famous artist da Vinci himself had a hand in designing the Duomo here, and it’s well worth a wander around if you love architecture and history.
Take a self-guided walking tour of the city: If you truly want to make the most of your time in the pretty university city, then I highly recommend exploring the small town via foot. Best seen in the spring or the summer so as to avoid the crowds, here’s your ultimate free and self-guided Pavia walking tour.
We stayed in Galleria Arnaboldi on a complimentary basis. However, all photos and opinions are my own (as always!) Thank you so much to Paolo and the rest of the team for making our stay so special and one to remember!