Bella Collina near Orlando: Is this picturesque golf course in Florida or Italy?

MONTVERDE, Fla. -- Overlooking vineyards and Lake Apopka and Lake Siena, Bella Collina is positioned in a setting that more resembles Italy than central Florida. And it all starts with a 50,000-square-foot, Tuscan-inspired clubhouse designed by acclaimed architect Mike Marsh.

Located about 45 minutes outside of Orlando, the clubhouse sits high above a golf course designed by Nick Faldo and Steve Smyers. The course befits the clubhouse with its elevated tees, wide fairways, rolling hills and variety of shots. It's a big golf course, 7,500 yards from the tips, and plenty of challenge from the members tees at 6,500 yards.

Plans call for the club to go totally private as the economy rebounds and million-dollar lots begin to sell again, but tee times are open to the public and quite reasonable (often around $75). The clubhouse, which features a spa, restaurant and magnificent locker rooms, is also used for special events and weddings.

May 23, 2014

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Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.