Travel + Leisure (USA)
No Place Like Home
Rome, Paris…Bellport, New York? Actor Isabella Rossellini grew up shuttling between some of Europe’s most glamorous cities, but the Long Island village is where she’s lived full-time for close to 20 years. She reveals what drew her there in the first place—and gives us a sneak preview of her soon-to-open B&B.
ISABELLA ROSSELLINI first visited Bellport in 1982, the year she signed a contract with Lancôme that made her the world’s highest-paid model. Her initial impression of the village—apart from the fact that it was less than two hours from Manhattan by train—was how much it reminded her of Europe. “It has a compact center that you can easily walk around,” she says. “And on Fridays, locals gather at the main café to see who’s come in on the train from the city.”
Rossellini grew so fond of Bellport that in 1997, after renting in the area for a few summers, she purchased a run-down red barn and partnered with Italian architect Pietro Cicognani to transform it into her main residence. The high-ceilinged space is rustic and warm, with bookshelves and exposed beams. Adorning the walls are framed black-and-white photographs of her mother, the Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, and her father, the neorealist Italian director Roberto Rossellini.
As a child, Rossellini fantasized about owning a farm. “I always loved agriculture and considered studying it at school,” she says. In 2013, her dream finally came true.
She purchased a 28-acre tract just outside Bellport and worked with her daughter, Elettra, and a few friends to plant seasonal organic crops (carrots, watermelon radishes, zucchini); breed chickens; and tend to her sheep and goats. She named it Mama Farm.
This year, she’ll debut a four-room B&B—also designed by Cicognani— inside an old house adjacent to the farm, with a large central kitchen where cooking and gardening lessons will be held. Dinner parties will be put on by notable chefs (at Mama, she’s hosted Gabrielle Hamilton of N.Y.C.’s Prune). Says Rossellini about the B&B: “When we bought it, it wasn’t beautiful. In fact, we gave it a nickname, Zozzona, which in the Roman dialect means ‘ugly one.’ But rather than tear it down, we’re working with what we have. Pietro and I are Italian—we live with the ruins.” mamafarm.us; rates not available at press time.