A touch of old Italy in Santa Barbara

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

AT first glance, the setting of this house may conjure up the Italian countryside. It was designed to capture the feeling of Villa d’Este, a fine old hotel near Lake Como.

The hotel was built as a private residence in 1568. This house, Terra Bella, was built four years ago, yet much of it -- with its many handcrafted details -- looks as if it was built more than four centuries ago. Interiors were completed by Lory Johansson of Ergo Design Works. The grounds, behind gates, complement the interiors. There is a larger-than-life chessboard garden, a Versace-inspired blue-tile pool and Zen, herb and rose gardens. There are also some stables and riding trails.

About this house: If there is one thing that stands out and justifies the nearly $40-million price tag, it is the location. The Mediterranean-style house is on 3 oceanfront acres in Santa Barbara’s Hope Ranch area. The community, known for its hilltop views, equestrian trails and La Cumbre Country Club, sits between U.S. 101 and the ocean.

Asking price: $39.5 million

Size: There are 10 bedrooms and 11 1/2 bathrooms in 13,909 square feet.

Additional features: A two-story entry with sweeping staircase, gourmet kitchen with breakfast area; media room and loggia are among the features. There are wood, tile and detailed parquet floors. The herb garden has fountains; the living room, a fireplace.

Where: Santa Barbara

Listing agent: Myra Nourmand, Nourmand & Associates, Beverly Hills, (310) 888-3333, and Peter Fleming, (310) 454-1373. The home can be viewed at