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The Timeless Charm of Ivy-Covered Estates

These seven idyllic homes accoutered in greenery evoke tradition, longevity, and romance

Ivy, brilliant and evergreen, is a symbol of timelessness, of fidelity and the profound human connections of friendship and marital love. Romantic, picturesque and hardy, ivy on a home evokes tradition and a sense of permanence. Framing an archway or covering a wall, winding vines anchor a building to the ground on which it stands. The time-honored pairing of ivy tendrils with sturdy brick or stone which, as Milton wrote, “direct the clasping ivy where to climb” has long suggested wisdom and steadfastness combined with tenderness and love. As the following seven homes demonstrate, ivy effectively lends an air of elegance and historic significance to the structures it adorns.

The Ledges in Wenham, Massachusetts

Tudor beams and ivy-clad stone lend a timeless quality to this English-inspired manor house in Essex County, Massachusetts.

Ivy-covered stone walls enhance the charm of The Ledges, a grand country manor in Wenham, Massachusetts. A cobblestone driveway and motor court introduce the 14.5-acre property. Beyond the foyer is a great entry hall with bluestone floors. The reception rooms, many with wood-burning fireplaces, include the drawing room, wood-paneled library, and formal dining room, all executed in warm woodworks, finishes and accents on a neutral palette. Farther along are the chef’s kitchen and conservatory. Six bedrooms and seven bathrooms include the luxurious primary suite and a private in-law/au pair suite. Contemporary updates include custom leaded-glass windows, central air conditioning and heating, and electrical, fire-safety and security systems. The property is moments from the towns of Wenham, Hamilton, Beverly, and an easy commute to Boston.

Beaumont in Valbonne, France

This historic ivy-covered manor house occupies a spectacular elevated site with sweeping views of the Côte d'Azur.

Beaumont is one of the finest estates on the Côte d’Azur. Built in 1920, this magnificent hilltop manor, between the Provençal villages of Mougins and Valbonne, is set like a jewel within nearly 45 acres of private parkland overlooking the sea. Since its construction in 1920, Beaumont has hosted several notable guests, including a young JFK, who summered at the estate during his father’s tenure as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1938-1940. The stately ivy-clad main house was sensitively restored by noted French architect Jacques Couëlle. Its period details, including marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and wall tapestries, remain beautifully intact. The nine-bedroom main house offers 11,840 square feet of living space with several reception rooms, a contemporary kitchen, cinema, game room, wine cellar, and an observation tower with a roof deck. The ancillary structures include two gate lodges, a guest cottage, caretaker’s house, and farm buildings. The estate’s glorious gardens are graced with rare specimen plants, cypress trees, an olive grove, vegetable garden, and reflecting pool. The amenities include a tennis court and half-Olympic-sized marble swimming pool with pool house. A short walk away is the picturesque village of Valbonne. Cannes and Nice International Airport are both within 25 minutes’ drive.

Traditional Villa in Porto, Portugal

This home’s ivy-covered exterior blends into its verdant setting in Ermesinde, Portugal.

This charming villa, surrounded by lovely landscaped gardens, disguises its modern lines with a veil of ivy. Designed for the seamless integration of indoor-outdoor living, its warm, light-filled interiors, executed in a warm palette of creams and tans, are accented with exquisite woodwork. Inside spaces unfold across multiple levels and flow out to expansive terraces and parklike grounds. The main-floor reception rooms are adorned with wood floors and beamed ceilings with wrought-iron chandeliers. A wooden staircase rises to the second floor. There are five bedrooms and four bathrooms, many with garden views, and all of it just 15 minutes from the historic heart of Porto.

Snell Isle Retreat in St. Petersburg, Florida

This ivy-cloaked home blends into its lush, landscaped setting on Snell Isle, St. Petersburg.

Walls of ivy envelop this elegant residence on Snell Isle in St. Petersburg, Florida. The property sits within a landscaped lot near Vinoy Golf Club, downtown St Petersburg, and St. Pete Pier. A covered front porch clad in greenery opens to airy interiors with gleaming wood floors, high ceilings, and oversized windows to let in the Florida sunlight. The living room has a wood-burning fireplace for those few chilly Florida nights. Adjoining the living room is an updated kitchen with stainless appliances. Two bedrooms on the main level, situated at the front and rear of the house, have a shared bathroom. The second level is dedicated to the luxurious primary suite, complete with en suite bathroom and large walk-in closet. The property also includes an air-conditioned “Florida room” and a large garage.

Maison de Maître in Midi Pyrenees, France

This picture-postcard estate in southwest France comprises two beautiful dwellings: a 19th-century maison de maître and an 18th-century chartreuse, each covered in ivy.

This country manor in the picturesque region of Gers in southwest France is a fine example of a maison de maître—an elegant mansion of 18th- or 19th-century origins. Its symmetrical façade has tall sash-style, windows, shutters, a gently pitched roof with chimneys, and walls accoutered in ivy. That rustic exterior belies grandly proportioned, high-ceilinged interiors updated with 21st-century creature comforts. The light-filled main residence, its doors opening to patios overlooking the gardens, is complemented by a semi-detached, three-bedroom guest house—a chartreuse, or one-story stone house typical of the region. The shaded courtyard includes a pool and lounge with summer kitchen. The main house opens to a wide, tiled hall with a wooden stairway to the bedrooms. A lounge, with a large fireplace, leads to an open-plan dining room/family room, fully fitted kitchen, and library/study. Upstairs, three ample, en suite bedrooms overlook the gardens or courtyard. The chartreuse also features a full kitchen/dining room, lounge. It has three bedrooms, one en suite and a family bathroom serving the other two. At the far end of the chartreuse is a small apartment/studio with a full kitchen and a modern shower room. And there is an orchard with abundant fruit trees.

La Villa Gialla in Henderson, Nevada

Winding vines of ivy grace the aged-stone columns and arches of this Mediterranean-style mansion on the shores of Lake Las Vegas.

La Villa Gialla captures the essence of Italian-style grandeur. Situated in the private, gated Lake Las Vegas community of Marseilles South Shore, this opulent three-story Mediterranean-inspired estate is built on a cascading lot to optimize the golf course and lake views. The sunflower-yellow exterior is graced with dramatic aged-stone columns and arches complemented by ivy-covered stonework and a terra cotta-tile roof. The interiors, by Tony Grant of Las Vegas’s Grant Design Group, offer a variety of imported custom finishes. The main-level floor is crafted from three-quarter-inch-thick Jerusalem Gold stone imported from Italy. Many of the home’s appointments were handmade and custom-designed in Italy, including the hand-forged-iron entrance door, main staircase, and hand-blown Murano glass chandelier. The palatial living spaces include a library and office, a home theater, chef’s kitchen, and full-floor primary suite. The grounds front both the lake and the fairways and include an infinity pool, outdoor kitchen, car-collector’s garage, putting green, two lakeside docks, casita, and a deluxe boathouse—with humidor.

Vintage Villa in Perugia, Italy

This gorgeous 16th-century Italian villa has modern amenities and timeless beauty.
This 16th-century Italian villa is cloaked in greenery and steeped in history.

Once occupied by Napoleon’s niece, this luxurious Italian property has been restored and updated under the supervision of a prominent local architect. Surrounded by juniper and olive trees and with long views over rolling hills and fields, this nine-bedroom, nine-bathroom home’s vaulted brick entrance hall leads to a main room with an antique stone fireplace. A modern open-plan kitchen is separated from the breakfast room, which has its own fireplace, with a vaulted brick archway. Reach the upper levels via an elegant stone staircase; the master suite has a fireplace, frescoed bathroom, and private terrace. This level also has two separate but intercommunicating apartments, each with its own entrance and parking. The tower floor has a double bedroom and a sitting room with panoramic views. With frescoes throughout, fountains front and back, locally-made terracotta floors laid in unique patterns in every room, vaulted and beamed ceilings, and a semicircular swimming pool on the back terrace, this home is a historic beauty. Modern touches include in-floor heating, a centralized vacuum system, full insulation, and a security system.