Could there be anywhere quite as romantic as Italy? Just lately I have been dreaming about secluded olive groves, fresh pasta and Chianti. I languish by the pool of a beautiful villa reading Proust whilst sunning myself and enjoying breezes scented with lemon. Strangely the sounds of “mum can I have my games on” or “I’m hungry / bored/ having my human rights dramatically curtailed by my sibling” are missing from this blissful vista.
Although I love my kids, there’s no denying that I miss the heady days of holidaying senza bambini – i.e. without them because it’s cheaper, quieter and there’s more choice. Of course, if you’re a parent brave enough to risk the wrath (and fines) of your local authority, you may think nothing of booking a family holiday out of season. Much less of a problem, of course, if your kids are pre-schoolers or your offspring are off to college.
But if you can travel out of season (and benefit from those much lower off-peak prices), I have discovered the Villa Pia in Lippiano and promptly added it to my ‘must visit’ list.
Villa Pia is a hugely popular, affordable, all-inclusive family villa in Lippiano (bordering Umbria and Tuscany). Its faithful clientele includes families who have been visiting for years and lately it has also become a great location for relaxing retreats and group parties – or for anyone seeking peace and the lovely spring and autumn sunshine.
The property is set in 5 acres of land with the nearby 10th century Lippiano Castle just waiting to be explored. You can walk through the surrounding woodland or go mountain biking or horse-riding. Then back to the village bar for locally prepared ice-cream.
The villa has 25 bedrooms with private bathrooms, including large family rooms and five sets of interconnecting rooms. You can either stay in the main villa which has 17 bedrooms or at the Palazzo Regina, a restored building with another 8 rooms just 5 minutes away.
Interconnecting rooms are brilliant for those who want some separate space from their kids – particularly important if you have tweens like my two who want to be away from the eagle eye of mum and dad for a bit.
Holidays at Villa Pia in Lippiano are all inclusive and they have on-site chefs who will prepare traditional Italian meals using food that is locally sourced wherever possible. You’ll also find Italian cookery classes run for adults and kids where you can learn to make fresh pasta, traditional Tuscan dishes and famous desserts like tiramisu. All diets are catered for, including nut-free, gluten-free and other allergen-free dishes.
There is both an adult and a children’s swimming pool (both heated year-round) and other play facilities such as an indoor soft play room, all-weather tennis court and a courtyard play area filled with small climbing frames and slides.
If you are going without children, there are a whole host of retreats you could try – anything from yoga and meditation, writing, wildflower and garden design or learning to play the guitar.
To find out more about the Villa Pilla in Lippiano visit their website where you can check availability and book by telephone or online. Children under the age of 2 are free if they are sharing a room. You’ll also find travel directions.
The nearest airport is Perugia but you can fly to Rome or Bologna and enjoy a leisurely drive to the Villa.
I’m off to finally sort out the kids’ passports – or to convince the hubby that my need for a week of yoga and meditation is far more important than one of the many ongoing DIY projects he likes to pretend will be finished this year.
All photos courtesy of Villa Pia.