Francis Ford Coppola: Pater Familias

The Legendary Director Shares Family Lore at His Palazzo Margherita Hideaway

Coppola history comes to life in this candid portrait of Francis Ford by Alison Chernick, filmed at the Hollywood don's newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita, while he was vacationing with his aunt Almerinda and his 95-year-old uncle Anton. Tucked in the arch of Italy's boot, the majestic boutique property is situated in the quiet hilltop town of Bernalda, or as the Coppolas call it, "Bernaldabella", which has held mythic intrigue for the celebrated director since his grandfather Agostino left the region for New York in 1904. The auteur behind the The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now and The Rainmaker, first made a pilgrimage to the Southern Italian spot at the age of 22, where he was welcomed by family members who were still residing there. He began to return regularly and, having already expanded his directorial vision to include a vineyard in the Napa Valley and several retreats in Central and South America, in 2005 he bought the virtually untouched 1892 Palazzo Margherita from a surviving descendant of the man who built it. Keeping the close-knit Coppola clan at the heart of the project, his cineaste children Sofia and Roman collaborated on personalized interiors for several of the building's nine suites with French interior designer Jacques Grange, whose clients have included Yves Saint Laurent and Princess Caroline of Monaco. The Palazzo boasts several bars as well as a lush courtyard and garden, and the only swimming pool in Bernalda-built in time for Sofia's wedding to Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars last August. The patriarch's own headquarters features a Moorish ceiling design, honoring the heritage of his Tunisian-born Grandmother, Maria Zasa. Guests may find themselves sitting next to Francis himself at the shared dining table, savoring regional cuisine such as lamb prepared with chicory, tomatoes and cheese, and Lampascioni fritti (a local variety of baby onion, deeply fried), before retiring to the salon to curl up with a Coppola-curated library of Italian films.