A word meaning "gift of God" in Italian. It is a fairly common surname in Italy. Also, a very special hotel on the Côte d'Azur in France is named Hotel Diodato.

A charmed Russian

In the 19th century a Russian aristocrat chose "Diodato" as the name for his holiday palace on the French Riviera, apparently enchanted by the extraordinary charm of the place. His palace was later converted into a small (32 rooms) hotel, Hotel Diodato in Roquebrune-Cap Martin (quite close to Monaco).

I discovered Hotel Diodato a few years back by chance, having gotten lost among the several "corniches" above the Mediterranean coastline, between Nice and the Italian border. The hotel is not easy to find, as it is completely hidden from view when driving along the winding corniche roads.

Princely fireworks

It turned out to be one of the most delightful hotel discoveries I have ever made. The hotel and its beautiful lush garden are situated on a rock promontory (Pointe de Cabbé) jutting into the Mediterranean, below the medieval mountaintop village of Roquebrune. Looking westward you can clearly see Monaco a couple of kilometers away. On certain nights, when the Prince of Monaco and his family are entertaining guests on board their yacht, the sky will be aglow with fireworks.

No Sheratonic vulgarity

However, the charm of Hotel Diodato is hardly loud parties and disco-dancing. Diodato is as little Hiltonesque or Sheratonic as you can get. It does actually not impress you as a hotel at all. Rather, you might feel as the tsarist Russian aristocrat (who built the place) may have felt a hundred years ago - enjoying the refined esthetics of the setting, the spacious lounges and the paradisic garden, while being attended by a discreet staff of servants. The pool for example - in itself very nice and with a marvelous view of the Mediterranean - is built out of sight of the main garden, so as not to cloud the general impression of refinement. No guest at Diodato should be disturbed by the vulgarity of swimming pools, while reading the classics in the garden.

Eating out on a mountaintop

Hotel Diodato has three stars, so it is not ridiculously expensive. The rooms have complete modern amenities, but are rather small. On the other hand, you will hardly remain in your room when staying at Diodato. There is no restaurant in the hotel, nor are there any restaurants or bars within walking distance. But the train station of the Nice-Ventimiglia railway line is only 100 meters from the hotel. Monaco is just one stop - 7 minutes - away. Also, a decent restaurant in the village of Roquebrune (which has a wonderful view from a mountaintop) will come for you by car and drive you back to Diodato after your meal - for free.

A paradise, yes. But beware: a paradise forever is a paradise lost. If you stay at Diodato for much longer than a week, you might very well be bored to death.

Reference: The Hotel Diodato website has a "dynamic version", presenting 360-degree Java-panoramas from various vantage points. Of course, it is very far from actually being there:


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