We have just returned from a wonderful week’s holiday. On arrival the house met all of our excited expectations having seen the pictures before we booked. It is a beautiful house in a beautiful location with stunning and meticulously maintained gardens. The outside world and the humdrum realities of life felt immediately very far away. (We had wondered whether the relative proximity to Rome might have compromised the beauty of the area but we needn’t have worried.)
What we did not know then was how, as our stay progressed, the villa’s true old world charm and elegance would seemingly endlessly unfurl, revealing new delights. There’s nothing showy or ostentatious - simply class and carefully thought out design. The way there always seemed to be some shade to find by the pool; the crisp but not too cold pool temperature; the way just as in the afternoon the heat of the day was starting to become a bit too much, a gentle breeze picked up around the house; how the evening sun settles on the seating area by the house in time for an aperitif bathed in the rosy light of the setting sun; the lack of mosquitoes (really); and at night, despite the hot temperatures we remained cool and comfortable thanks to the house’s thick walls having kept it cool throughout the day.
The house is an old family home carefully and loving restored by Michela and Paolo. Their devotion to the property and their guests is what really set our stay apart. They are charming, easy going, efficient and straightforward to deal with. They managed to convey how important the house is to them and yet to instinctively understand the importance of letting us enjoy it as if it was our own during our stay. Yet, they simply could not have made themselves more available when we needed them. We were not straightforward guests. Covid restrictions meant we had to self isolate for 5 days upon arrival. Michela spent hours before our arrival making arrangements for food and wine to arrive, meals to be delivered and tests to be done - all taking into account various allergies and dietary requirements. Everything was ready for us when we got there and went without a hitch. For the period we were out of quarantine she booked a lovely restaurant for us and arranged for the chef to come and cook for us. Each were magical evenings. The chef created a wonderful meal which we enjoyed in the dining area surrounded by the beautiful gardens. To top it all, on our last day, when we needed to get medical help, Paolo took us himself to the local urgent care unit. Michela and Paolo were just utterly fantastic hosts - leaving us with a feeling of having been cared for and looked after as family friends rather than as part of a service to paying guests. They could not have been kinder or more generous with their time or attention.
Circumstances meant we had little chance to explore but glimpses of possibilities flashed by as we travelled to and from the airport (and the hospital) - the Etruscan tombs, Sutri, the lake. Rome is of course nearby. We left planning our trip back. A final moment of appreciation came whilst we made use of the pool beyond check out time to allow for a later flight. The house became a hive of activity with gardeners, cleaners; Michela and Paolo all working on getting the house ready for the next guests, demonstrating just how much work goes into maintaining it and offering what they do. Yet, had we not stayed beyond our check out time, it would have been completely invisible to us