CNN - Miami: Casa Casuarina

Written by CNN

Tour guides' picks: 10 city sights you mustn't miss

1. Miami: Casa Casuarina

Casa Casuarina, Miami

Your Miami guide is:
Tara Solomon, Discovery Miami Beach self-guided tours;

Suits you, Sir.

“Casa Casuarina, the former home of Gianni Versace, is one of Miami's most magical places and my favorite spot on our Discovery Miami Beach tour,” says Tara Solomon of Discovery Miami Beach self-guided tours.

“It was where the iconic designer, his sister Donatella and their family members stayed when they came to Miami during the 1990s.

“The 35-roomOcean Drive estate was the site of glamorous parties for privileged locals and high-profile friends from out of town including Madonna, Sly Stallone, the photographer Bruce Weber and a then-new on the scene Jennifer Lopez.

“When Versace first saw the mansion in 1992 -- it was built in 1930 -- it was a dilapidated collection of 30 individual apartments. He purchased the property, along with the Art Deco hotel next door, and turned it into a flamboyantly appointed neoclassical house by the ocean which he visited until his murder in 1997.

“The most glorious feature is the open-air courtyard with its mosaic pool lined with red, gold, blue, silver and green tiles imported from Milan. Based on the pattern of a Versace silk scarf, it took US$1.5 million to create and 50 artisans a year to complete.”