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Home Away from Home

From Cape Cod Home Magazine

When guests exit bustling Route 6A and pull into the driveway of Brewster’s Candleberry Inn, they’re not only escaping the frenetic – often frantic – pace of 21st-century life, they’re entering the personal, real-life “canvas” of innkeepers Angelo Ferraro and Marco DiDomizio.

From the meticulously manicured privet hedges that front the historic home to the various gardens that adorn the property, visitors couldn’t be blamed if they felt like they’ve stumbled into a painting.

One of the innkeepers’ most recent landscaping experiments was to tear out – and replace – the old garden that separates the property’s front and back lawns. Like landscape “painters,” the partners planted “layers” of blue-purple Siberian iris, pink-purple rhododendron, blue and white hydrangeas and electric-yellow goldenrod against a “canvas” of evergreen Italian cypress.

“It really looks like a Monet painting,” notes Ferraro. “We purposely planted this combination of flowers, knowing that they would sing together in some way. It’s really exceeded our expectations this year.”

The same could be said for a stay at the Candleberry Inn, according to the inn’s guests, who helped propel Candleberry to the top of Tripadvisor’s “Travelers’ Choice” ratings for the world’s top bed and breakfasts and inns in 2021. Guest reviews placed the Candleberry Inn as the number three inn in the U.S. and number eight globally.

“I spent a lot of time on the Cape as a child, and driving down 6A is a sentimental journey for me,” says retired nurse and educator Kathie Tritone, who has been staying at the inn – multiple times a year – for the past eight years. “My husband, Jim, always drives, and I get to enjoy the view. We pull into the driveway, past the perfectly manicured privet hedges, and the home and yard are so beautiful every time we visit.

“When we finally realized we weren’t going to have a Cape Cod home of our own, we wanted to find a place where we could go and put all our cares away,” adds Tritone. “We walk in the door [at the Candleberry Inn], and it’s all peace and tranquility. It’s very calming. It feels like our second home.”

The ‘Rational’ Road to Brewster

Growing up in the shadow of Manhattan, Ferraro and DiDomizio are no strangers to New York City’s long hours and "always-on" approach to work and career. A graduate of Iona College, DiDomizio is a CPA who was a global financial and operations director for an ad agency in New York City, while Ferraro is a registered architect who most recently specialized in classical design and renovation for wealthy residential clients.

As their careers wore on, though, the partners realized that they had a “next chapter” to their story. Given their combined business and artistic acumen, and their passion for hospitality, the pair began to toy with the idea of innkeeping.

“We didn’t see ourselves doing New York City jobs for another five to 10 years,” says DiDomizio. “So the question of ‘what’s next’ kept coming up for years.”

The Breezing Up Guest Room

During their careers, the partners had become very familiar with Cape Cod, enjoying frequent getaways to the region’s many inns. “We loved to stay in old Victorians because we have a passion for historic homes, and Angelo loved to study the cornices and the finish design to help inform his work,” notes DiDomizio. “Soon, we started to notice how the inns were being run and thought, ‘We might be able to do this.’”

They decided to view a few properties on the Cape, but were “scared away” for one reason or another. Stepping back, Ferraro and DiDomizio re-grouped and decided to join the National Association of Innkeepers as “aspiring innkeepers.”

One weekend, they took part in an intensive “business of inn-keeping” seminar that proved transformative for both. In addition to learning the basics of running an inn, they learned how to value a property, including real estate, home contents and business valuation.

The seminar’s instructor was also a realtor on Cape Cod, so Ferraro and DiDomizio began working with the instructor to scout potential Cape properties. After six months of searching, the pair found the Candleberry Inn in Fall 2015.

“We wanted to open an inn in a quaint, small-scale colonial building,” says Ferraro. “We knew [the Candleberry Inn] was an old building and we had some work to do, but the bones are great.

“In terms of the hierarchy of space, the Candleberry Inn is a rational building, and I can’t over-

emphasize the word ‘rational’ enough,” notes Ferraro. “The construction and layout are rational as you progress through the space. The rooms are rational and symmetrical, as are the windows. You can create a rational experience for the guest here.”

Painting of the Parthenon by Lusieri Giovanni Battista, Courtesy of Benaki Museum, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Enlightened Architecture and Design

The 18th-century Enlightenment’s focus on reason not only influenced the philosophy, science and politics of the era, but it also had a major impact on architecture. During this “Age of Reason” in Europe, part of a young man’s education was taking “The Grand Tour” of the continent, which included excursions to the ancient ruins of Greece and Rome.

The rediscovery of this classical architecture – both rational and balanced – gave birth to the Georgian and Federal styles of architecture. Known for their clean, classical lines and balanced proportions, these closely related styles are the physical embodiment of rationality.

Although the front portion of the Candleberry Inn’s Main House is often referred to as Georgian, it more closely resembles its cousin, the Federal style, which was common throughout the northern

English colonies of North America in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Candleberry Inn's living room.

“The Candleberry Inn’s detailing is more restrained than the more robust lines of the Georgian style, so I consider the inn to be Federal style,” says Ferraro. “The Federal style is more of an American style.”

Located at 1882 Main Street, the Candleberry Inn and its buildings are part of the Brewster Old King’s Highway Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Breakwater Beach is only a 10-minute walk from the inn, which is also within strolling distance of many antique shops, businesses, restaurants and coffee houses. For those who love high-level college baseball, the inn is a line-drive away from Stony Brook Field, home of the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Brewster Whitecaps. Given its location in Brewster, right near the Cape’s geographical mid-point, the Candleberry Inn also serves as a great “base camp” for visitors who wish to explore the Cape.

The Copeland Guest Room

The front of the Main House was built by Massachusetts State Senator George Copeland, Esq., around 1800. His wife, Sarah, was a teacher, and in the 1820s ran the Dame’s School for Boys in the front parlor rooms, which are now the Breezing Up and Copeland guest rooms. The Highland, Beach Rose and Cricket rooms round out the guest facilities in the Copeland section of the home.

The oldest part of the inn’s Main House – where the dining room and Seacroft Suite are located – was built sometime between 1780 and 1790, and is believed to have originally been a farmhouse.

In the Main House, four of the six guest rooms offer fireplaces. All Main House rooms feature poster beds and are “outfitted in the traditional décor of the time,” according to DiDimizio. All guest accommodations have private bathrooms, and the larger rooms boast luxurious soaking tubs.

With Ferraro providing design guidance this past offseason, the pair gutted and upgraded the inn’s 10 bathrooms, which now offer plush Turkish towels and Malin + Goetz natural skin and bath products.

The Seabreeze Guest Room

In their six years of ownership, DiDomizio and Ferraro have renovated and/or redecorated almost every space in the inn. They’ve installed new beds, reupholstered the furniture, torn out wall-to-wall carpeting and restored the flooring, installed wide-planked floorboards where needed, and introduced HD TVs, cellphone-charging stations and high-speed wi-fi.

The bedrooms also offer 600-thread count cotton sheets – ironed by DiDomizio – as well as Matouk blankets, coverlets and duvets. “We’ve really scaled up to give our guests a more luxurious experience in their rooms and bathrooms,” says DiDomizio.

The Carriage House, which is separated from the Main House, contains three guest accommodations – the Garden Suite and Seabreeze and Treetops rooms. Prior to a renovation in the 1990s, the building probably served as a garage at one point. Where the Carriage House is not a part of the Main House – and reminded DiDomizio and Ferraro of a beach house – they decorated it appropriately.

“Some guests love history and want to stay in the Main House, while others like the modern-beach feel of the Carriage House,” says Ferraro. “Then we have guests who like both styles, while some will experiment with both until they find a preference. We offer the best of both worlds.”

To learn more about the Candleberry Inn and its mouth-watering breakfasts, visit www.candleberryinn.com.