Country villa rental review of Il Rifugio at The Pinelli Estate, Agropoli, Italy

Il Rifugio at The Pinelli Estate in Agropoli, Italy

Steps away from Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, located in the undiscovered area of Cilento is Il Rifigio, a perfect getaway for privacy and intimacy. My husband and I were guests at The Pinelli Estate in July during our visit to get to know Cilento and Campania. Il Rifugio at The Pinelli Estate is a luxuriously refurbished farmhouse overlooking the hills of Cilento wine country in the Italian countryside of the Campania region. A private villa rental with your choice of full butler service or self-catering. And guess what- it comes with a yacht!

Il Rifugio is part of The Pinelli Estate, a privately owned property development; a luxury villa with an infinity pool and complete amenities, a second villa undergoing renovations, an olive tree grove, a personal vineyard and The Pinelli Motor Yacht. All available as a private villa rental or fractional ownership.

Does it look like the photos on the website?

Yes, it’s absolutely gorgeous. Here is my video walkthrough:

The Hosts

Nigle& Dawn Carely /photo

Nigel and Dawn Carley welcomed us with warm greetings, a house tour and a lovely lunch on the veranda. As we got to know them, I found their story intriguing.  Nigel, a business developer and Dawn a retail executive and property investor, both planned to retire from their fast-paced lives in the U.K. The original idea was to spend lazy days in the Italian countryside, but they just couldn’t keep their ideas contained.  They are now fully committed to offering the highest quality of hospitality at The Pinelli Estate.

They were not only our hosts but gave us a full tour of Agropoli and the surrounding areas Santa Maria di Castellabate, Capaccio and the ancient ruins of Paestum. They offered excellent recommendations for restaurants and activities and superbly prepared meals for us to eat “at home” at the villa.

For visitors who wish to have the villa as a private rental, they will give guests complete privacy for the entire stay.

Their hospitality and services were five-star quality and their genuine affection of their adopted town was expressed with love and admiration.

The House

Nigel and Dawn found the farmhouse and land quite by accident; Nigel went to the wrong address when meeting the realtor! After falling in love with the property, they made an offer to the two sisters who had kept the house in the family for five generations. The house had been castoff as an “old house” but Nigel saw a diamond in the rough and took the chance.

They fully renovated, refurbished and refurnished everything with style and elegant detail. It is clear that no expense had been spared. Designer furniture and lighting fixtures are found throughout the house (I spotted pieces by Roberto Cavalli and Aldo Bernardi and noticed that the linens and bath accessories were from White Company.) The original stonewall and wood ceiling rafting have been carefully preserved.

The house has 4 bedrooms, each with an ensuite wetroom, a living room with wide leather couches and cinema tv, a dining room with original antique furniture, a fully equipped country kitchen, a terrace and a 32 ft. infinity pool overlooking the Cilento landscape.

The Bedrooms

We had a large, cozy room with tall windows offering a view of the pool and vineyards below. Antique furniture with modern décor accessories echoed the country chic atmosphere found throughout the house. A wardrobe, night tables and vanity table were very useful during our stay. The bed was desirously comfortable. It was quiet, and we both got a good night’s sleep, waking up refreshed.

The Bathrooms

Each bedroom has an ensuite wetroom. Renovated with vintage style fixtures, and rustic stone, the bathroom was spacious and the shower had excellent water pressure. (see video)

The Veranda

Although it was comfortable and welcoming, we didn’t use much of the indoor space. The weather was so pleasant; we ate all our meals and spent most of our time outside enjoying the simple pleasure of being in the countryside. Set under a wooden rafter portico, a large antique table sits proudly in the center of a stone paved terrace looking out to the olive groves and vineyards below.


Guests can choose full service or use the fully equipped kitchen to cook for themselves.  (Ah, I think I should mention that Nigel was a professional chef before going into business development.)

The day we arrived, we were served a lunch of locally grown vegetables, cold cuts, fresh bread and local wine.  The following day, a breakfast of fresh pastries, yogurt and fruit was waiting for us. The last evening, Nigel fired up the grill and cooked us fresh meat and vegetables while Dawn prepared a pasta salad and a plate of Caprese made with local buffalo mozzarella and Cilento tomatoes. All of course, accompanied by wine from the Campania region.

The Pinelli had their first wine harvest last year and made nearly 80 bottles for their debut vintage. Their private reserve was much like a dessert wine or a port; a deep ruby color with the distinct sweetness of Italy’s southern sun.

The Pool

The pool is the most spectacular feature of the house. A heated, 32 ft. length infinity pool overlooking the olive grove and vineyard.

I sat memorized at the pool edge watching the trees blowing in the breeze. The rolling hills of Cilento wine country undulate towards the sea. Medieval castles and farmhouses dot the hilltops.

At night, the lights of the small villages form clusters like small constellations.

The Pinelli Yacht

A Rizzardi 50 Top Line motor yacht, The Pinelli yacht can hold up to 12 passengers and use of the yacht for 15 nautical miles is included in your stay at The Pinelli Estate. There are overnight cabins, a kitchen and of course a captain. This trip, we didn’t go out for a ride but we did visit the harbour and board the yacht. We’ll have to go back again for cocktails and a sunset cruise!

Guests can plan a happy hour cruise and or a day trip to Capri or Amalfi.

Visitors to Cilento can also rent the yacht at the Agropoli, Marina.


The only thing I would advise visitors to keep in mind is the multi-level layout. There are staircases which may present difficulty for anyone with limited mobility.  When I spoke to Nigel about this, he certainly appreciated the feedback and said he’d look into solutions.

Is it on my “Yes List”?


We were both so pleased to stay at The Pinelli Estate. I would certainly recommend Il Rifugio. It was delightful getting to know Nigel and Dawn and visiting the Cilento region of Campania, Italy.

Would you like more information? Feel free to contact me for inquiries and information.