The Bella Collina community is located in south Lake County, tucked between Clermont and Montverde. The 18-hole, par-72 Sir Nick Faldo signature course (facing page, top) opened in 2008 and measures more than 7,500 yards from its longest tees. Sportivo Centro (facing page, bottom) is a members’ fitness center that encompasses 3,000 square feet.


Bella Collina, set atop one of Florida’s highest elevations, just might finally be finding its footing. The luxurious community has endured more ups and downs in its nearly 20-year history than the hilly terrain on which it sits, in south Lake County, tucked between Clermont and Montverde. 

Yet, the 1,900-acre private, Tuscan-inspired golf and lakefront enclave could now, finally, be only a well-placed fairway drive away from success. 

The plan was always for 900 homesites. Indeed, maybe that will come to fruition. Following some sluggish years, as well as some years of actual dormancy, there are signs of hope. 

All the requisite components, most notably infrastructure and amenities, are in place and have been for a while. These days, though, particularly with the recent introduction of Siena — nicely appointed short-stay rental condos — Bella Collina seemingly is on track to reaching its vast lux potential. 

Lux, as in luxurious. 

For starters, consider the Bella Collina’s 75,000-square-foot Italianate clubhouse, which encompasses six buildings and includes a restaurant, spa and fitness center. There’s a separate wine cellar and humidor, too. 

The clubhouse rests atop one of Florida’s highest points. It features barrel tile ceilings imported from Italy, intricate stonework custom-crafted from Italian experts, and a labyrinth of delightful plazas, fountains, terraces and woodwork. 

The attempt to spoil residents and guests is bolstered by resort-style offerings that include a huge pool with two 75-foot lap lanes and a separate play area, a sun deck, a whirlpool spa and a covered terrace with bar and grill; six Har-Tru (special surface) tennis courts, a spa and salon, and Sportivo Centro — a members’ fitness center that encompasses 3,000 square feet. Also, there are two restaurants plus several dining venues for special events. 

Then there’s golf. The 18-hole, par-72 Sir Nick Faldo signature course opened in 2008 and measures more than 7,500 yards from its longest tees. It features uncommon elevation changes for Central Florida, along with open fairways and sweeping dunes. In other words, the course is easy on the eyes, harder on the scorecards. 

As for real estate, the community’s location along Lake Apopka and spring-fed Lake Siena, framed by ancient oak trees and tall slender Italian cypress trees, is just about the most beautiful in the region. 

Move-in-ready condos and golf-course estate homes span the broad price range of roughly $300,000 (two bedrooms/two bathrooms at 1,390 square feet) to nearly $3 million (four bedrooms, four bathrooms at 6,644 square feet).

  For single-family custom homes, the Villa Rufolo (Hampton Bay Homes) and Villa Andalucía (Vogel Building Group) exemplify the impressive array. The Villa Rufolo (four bedrooms, four bathrooms at nearly 4,500 square) is priced at $1,487,000, while the Villa Andalucía (five bedrooms, five bathrooms at 6,500-plus square feet) starts at $2,489,000. 

Siena arrived last year in stark contrast to any previous offering at Bella Collina. And, while the it represents a departure from the community’s grand plan, the condominiums are striking. 

Each of the two- and three-bedroom units, housed in twin high-rises, has a balcony that delivers views of private 350-acre Lake Siena and range in size from 1,400 to 1,600 square feet. Guests have an on-site pool and fitness center as well as access to clubhouse.

The organization behind Bella Collina is private equity firm DCS Investment Holdings. Headquartered in West Palm Beach, DCS is led by Dwight Schar, co-owner of the National Football League’s Washington Redskins. Schar founded NVR Inc., one of America’s largest homebuilding and mortgage banking companies, and still is board chairman of the Reston, Virginia-based company. 

By conservative estimates from reports, more than $200 million has been invested on infrastructure and amenities since Bella Collina’s opening long ago. A Tuscan revival? Just maybe.