Once upon a time there was a prince who lived in a castle built of stone. The walls were lined with royal portraits, and when guests arrived—a dazzling group that included kings and queens— they were ushered into a 1970s living room complete with a semicircular sofa and a central fireplace shaped like the mouth of a fish. “You could call it a modern castle,” says of the Pink Panther-worthy palace that he calls his home.
His mother, a former Swiss waterskiing champion, is a decorating and architecture buff, who has designed several homes for the family. “She has in- credible taste and creates convivial houses that are all very special,” says Filiberto, who now lives in the Geneva home with his wife, the French actress , and their daughters, eight-year-old Princess Vittoria and six-year-old Princess Luisa. “My mother loves to have people over for big lunches and dinners. Her houses are more for others than for herself.”
In 2002, Italy relaxed its policy and for the first time in more than half a century allowed male descendants of the House of Savoy to enter the country. The blue-eyed prince, a former hedge-fund manager, was signed to appear on the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars and tangoed, jitterbugged, and cha cha cha-ed his way to the winning spot. Now a television host and producer in Italy, he divides his time between an olive-oil-producing farm and vineyard in Umbria, an apartment in Paris, and the house in Vésenaz, where he and his family are now the sole occupants (his parents moved to a home in the mountains of Gstaad seven years ago).
In fact, the original jewel-tone decor is remarkably intact—from the downstairs kitchen with its green cabinets and orange and white tile, to a bar cabinet that transforms into a chessboard when closed, to the master bedroom with its built-in concrete platform bed and a tranquil view, through the trees, of Lake Geneva.
“Normally you get fed up with the 1970s,” the prince says, “but even 40 years later this house still looks like it was built five years ago. It’s a liv- ing art piece. If today’s kings and queens could build their own castles, perhaps they would do it like that.”