This is the Amalfi Coast dream: an entire watchtower, dating to the late-medieval days of Italy’s great maritime republics, made over for a single couple. Set on a prime, terraced waterfront estate owned by Fausta and Raimonda Gaetani — the former has designed hotel interiors at Le Sirenuse and Il San Pietro; the latter was Zeffirelli’s great friend and sometime set designer — the apartment, spread over two levels, has a cavernous round bedroom, a living-kitchen area, a long terrace with dining table and sun loungers, and a shared lap pool. Sleeps two (and one child), from £3,600 per week, bellinitravel.com

The British writer-scholar-soldier-all round Renaissance man and his wife purchased their five-bedroom, 19th-century villa in the 60s, and bequeathed it to the Benaki Museum in 1996, granting its directors the right to rent it for three months of the year. It’s hard to know which to admire first — the glittering expanse of the Gulf of Messenia directly in front of it, or the impeccably preserved and chic interiors for which Fermor (add aesthete to that poly-moniker above) was famous among his fellow Maniot expats. Sleeps 14, from €35,000 per week, fivestargreece.com

Capraia, the Tuscan Archipelago’s unsung, and little-visited northerly island (population: about 400) is home to this recently restored, listed 11-room stronghold — a 16th century fortress built on a 12th century abbey, erected to clear the Genoese trading routes of pirates. The sleek surrounds, multiple pools and decks, and four extensive decorative and kitchen gardens are lovely; but it’s having more or less the run of an entire island — empty coves, sandy inlets, hiking trails and all — that is this place’s ace in hand. Sleeps 21, from €22,520 a week, thethinkingtraveller.com

One of the finest historic houses in Hydra Town, this six-bedroom mansion was designed in 1808 for Andreas Miaoulis, the admiral who led the Greeks to victory in the 1821 war of independence from the Ottoman Empire. Meticulously restored in the 1990s — tiled floors, painted ceilings, doors, cupboards and all — it’s an easy 10-minute walk down to the port. A lush interior courtyard is ideal for shady lunches; a wide terrace faces west for sunsets overlooking the mainland and Spetses. Sleeps 12, from €13,000 per week; fivestargreece.com

This mansion in the historic Istrian port of Rovinj is a beautiful, listed byproduct of Venice’s dominion of the Adriatic — but this one dates to the early 17th century. Set quite literally at water’s edge, it is also at a gratifying remove from this dense market town’s tourist nexus. The 2007 renovation is sleek and spare: the three en suite bedrooms are all whitewashed walls and skylights, while the ample kitchen gives on to a terrace-dock, putting you about a metre from a swim at any given time. Sleeps six, from €3,905 per week, scottwilliams.co.uk

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