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Cloistral Calm: Monastero Arx Vivendi Arco, Italy

Written by:
The Aficionados
Alex Filz

Monastero Arx Vivendi –a member of THE AFICIONADOS– is a new style refuge of luxury hotel and spa set within thick sacral walls dating back to the 17th-century. Located in scenic Arco -Trentino, sandwiched between the peaks of the mountain and the palms of Italy’s Lake Garda, which is just 4km away.

Once the home of devout Sisters, the aged cloistral heritage of the Monastery Serve di Maria Addolorata has been recast following an exacting narrative of preservation, reframing the monastic aesthetics for the modern nomad without corrupting the patina of austere beauty and timeworn touchpoints.

Holding true to Arx Vivendi’s ecclesiastical vernacular of vaulted architecture and sanctum of the walled convent gardens was charged to architectural studio noa* from Bolzano, aka Lukas Rungger and Stefan Rier. The duo are acclaimed hotel designers known for their innate tenet of spatial structure, strong sense of place and exacting purpose.

This style refuge was the perfect project for noa*, who effortlessly strive to ‘build stories, not just houses’. The old monastery allowed them to tease out the character of its ancestry – the vaulted cloistered entrance hall is quite the wow-factor reception - whilst letting the minimalist wellness construction shine with their brand of sleek, holistic design.

The former and the new conjunction are in distinct contrast; yet share a familiar DNA of puritan whites, simple linear forms, bare timbers, and polished cement. The wellness resort, set within the original seven-metre high boundary walls of the herb-scented monastery garden, sings from the minimalist hymn sheet with clean lines, glass frontages and pillared facades covered in Vicenza stone, while interiors build on the existing patina; bedrooms are a soothing palette of raincloud greys and creamy-whites, Terrazzo floorings, with those creature comforts of life, freestanding tubs and private saunas.

By looking at the project as a whole, the result is a hushed reverence that melds the two spaces in harmony, offering quiet yet sophisticated solace. But despite its monastic charm, Arx Vivendi – translating as ‘the art of living well’ - is not a place of devoutness, luckily succumbing to pleasure here is all too easy, with the Monastero bar dispensing cocktails and vino and chilled spa time in the ‘secret garden’ with its hammam, Finnish sauna and outdoor heated pool.

Monastero Arx Vivendi is a sanctum created for the modern pilgrims seeking solace in style, we think our 17th century Sisters would be thoroughly content.

The domestic quarters of Monastero Arx Vivendi have been refreshed with a light touch restoration, where the 38 rooms and two suites, spread out over three floors, are the perfect melange of a monastic austere aestheticism and refined simplicity with a functionality of furnishings, again with the help of noa* architectural studio. Using the original features as a starting point, the high ceilings give bedrooms a soaring airiness; while glazed loggias, robust wooden beams and original walls give character in droves. Bathrooms are spacious and luxe, many with free-standing marble tubs.

Although the rooms on the first floor are in fact the former residences of the nuns, fear not, you won’t find space or luxury compromised. By merging two cells into one, you lose the economical interior and gain a spacious bedroom with a large bathroom and dressing area. The ‘Lux’ rooms on the second floor are aptly named from Latin – meaning ‘light’ as they are flooded with brightness from a vast 35-metre skylight that covers the length of the building. The Loggia Suite comes with its balcony partially closed, making the curved windows part of the design. On the ground floor, the Hortus Suite is rather special with its own sauna and private garden.


Founded by Iain Ainsworth, THE AFICIONADOS is a travel resource for those seeking fabulous recommendations and accommodation that effortlessly fuses luxury, design and authenticity. It comprises over 90 hotels, designer homes for private hire and guesthouses, from all across Europe and a fabulous outpost in New York, the United States, together with a selection of over 100 creatives who round out the offer of this culture and lifestyle emporium for travel and good living. The Aficionados also publishes five printed magazines: Blueprint Beauts, Farmhouse Fabulous, Casa Gorgeous, Neu Heritage, and Alchemists of Italy.

By Liliana Alvarez

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