Neoclassical villas restored to echo their stunning setting

Two villas set either side of a lake in the forests of Piedmont have been sensitively restored to make the most of the breathtaking surroundings

In Italy, we call them boccalone,” explains Gemma Richards. “I’m going to have to look up the English…” The phone goes silent for some time before she picks up the receiver again. “Largemouth bass!” she exclaims.

These ugly fish are crucial to life at La Foleia – the retreat Richards, 27, and her partner, Niccolò, 30, have created in Piedmont in northwest Italy. Without them, languorous meals on the veranda overlooking the lake would be blighted by mosquitoes. “The boccalone eat all the mosquito larvae,” Richards explains. “It was one of the first questions I asked the previous owners. To start with, I didn’t believe her, but now we’ve been here for two summers, I know she was telling the truth.”

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