A Home of Italian Splendor: Experience 15th Century Florence Without Jet Lag

The Ultimate O.C. Home Tour
Villa di Sogni
Italian Splendor
The glass-encased cabana as seen from the pool grotto.

FOR SALE asking $39 million

Laguna Beach

BedroomsBaths 11

Amenities Swimming pool with grotto and glass-encased cabana

Postscript There’s a fully contained and separate caretaker’s apartment.

Groin vaulted ceilings and formal columns create elegance and openness.

Villa di Sogni—“House of Dreams”—lives up to its name. A classical estate evoking the 15th century, it looks as if it were transplanted from a hillside in Florence. Architect John O’Neill designed it with astute attention to period authenticity, such as groin-vaulted ceilings. The 18,000-square-foot palazzo was completed in 2002 following six years of construction, much of it by Italian artisans. The elegance unfolds just inside the front door: a grand double symmetrical staircase, travertine floors, a magnificent wood-paneled library, Florentine and Venetian chandeliers and sconces strategically placed to create maximum ambience, and 14 fireplaces (yes, 14). The home is on 2.8 sumptuous acres in Mystic Hills, the premier inland neighborhood south of Laguna Canyon Road. Venture onto the travertine veranda to take in the full spectacle of Laguna and the Pacific, and the manicured garden of hedges, roses, a formal fountain, and nearly 100 olive trees (80 to 100 years old).

DP6V0388 DREAM HOSTS: Extravagant houses make choice settings for charitable events. Villa di Sogni owners Karen and Bruce Cahill—he’s CEO of Centaur Corp.—have hosted more than their share of celebrity-studded fundraisers, including Oceana’s. Karen Cahill, pictured with actor Ted Danson, talks about the palazzo.

Favorite room?

“The library. It’s a rich and beautiful space, and it’s so peaceful to sit and read with either the fireplace or the fountain, which is just outside.”

The feature that most dazzles visitors?

“The first thing that takes my guests’ breath away is the view and huge size of the property, especially since we’re in Laguna.”

Fondest memories?

“The many special Christmases and the wonderful family time that goes along with the holidays … the children and I do it all ourselves. No decorators allowed! There are four trees in total, all live, of course. The formal tree that goes in the living room is adorned with my 32-year-old collection of baroque cherubs. The entire staircase and second-floor balustrades are swathed in garlands, with a sprinkling of red winter berries. In the living room we create a nutcracker tree with a tri-platform stand draped in red velvet that houses a selection of the massive nutcracker collection I started in 1972.

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