A “villa” is defined by the Google Online Dictionary as being “a large and luxurious country residence” — which would seem to perfectly describe the dazzling 24-room estate that’s now being offered at 1 Evergreen Road in Linwood’s exclusive Fischer Woods section for the relatively modest asking price of just $899,000.

This particular home, in fact, with its Old World-style stucco exterior, arched balconies, gables and tiled roof, not only bears a distinct resemblance to a country villa in Italy or Spain, but turns out to actually have been modeled on one. It even has a name — Villa Maria.

As its owner, Dr. Desi Penso, a retired general surgeon, recalls, he and his wife were on board a ship leaving Spain for Morocco, “when we looked back at the continent and saw this beautiful building on the Mediterranean coast, and my wife said, “that is the type of house I would like to build’.” On returning to Atlantic County, where Dr. Penso served at several hospitals, the couple subsequently engaged an architect with whom they worked to design their new house, which was completed 27 years ago at a cost approaching two million dollars.

The resulting six-bedroom, six-bath edifice (with two additional powder rooms) is the ideal venue for anyone entertaining the idea of doing a lot of entertaining. Its resplendent interior incorporates palatial living, dining and family rooms graced by a wood-burning fireplace and crystal chandelier, an immense eat-in kitchen with granite countertops, top-of-the-line appliances and a butler pantry, a spacious office opening to the outside, and a wide curved staircase leading to the four roomy upstairs bedrooms, most of which have full baths and balconies. A fifth bedroom-and-bath suite is located in a private separate wing of the house that’s ideal for guests, in-laws or an au pair.

Then there are the home’s icing-on-the cake amenities, the most enticing of which is a sizeable indoor swimming pool flanked by a row of sliding doors that gives it an outdoor feeling in the summertime. It also has a full bathroom and kitchenette, making it a perfect setting for hosting pool parties in any season, and one that Dr. Penso “would like whoever buys this house to enjoy when there is snow on the ground.”

Other features include a fully finished basement with yet another bedroom and a bath and a half, as well as a wet bar, dance floor, gym, wine cellar, and cedar closet; a three-car garage; whirlpool/spa; storage attic; 17 closets (including a walk-in) a potting shed; enclosed porch and security system, and a Bang and Olufsen sound System that provides music throughout the premises.

But for all its opulence, Villa Maria is also what the current owner describes as “very eco-friendly,” with geothermal heating throughout, along with a greenhouse and two 12 x 15-foot.gardens that are perfect for people who prefer to grow their own produce, and is also high enough so as not to require flood insurance.

Situated on nearly an acre of land, this lavish home is both cloistered and convivial, conveniently close to the mainland’s shopping, restaurants and professional and recreational facilities while giving occupants the feeling of being “away from everything,” as Dr. Penso puts it.

“We had a lot of good times here,” he adds,“and want to sell it to a family who would take good care of it and enjoy it as much as we did.”

A private showing of this magnificent country estate can be arranged by contacting listing agent Lisa Alper-Russo of Platinum Real Estate at either (609) 289-2384 or her office line, (609) 641-3400, or by emailing her at LisaAlper@comcast.net.

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