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Zagarolo: B&B Il Colle degli Ulive

www.olivetreehill.com

Reviewed by: Yvonne from Australia, review #2702

When: April 2009

For the last 6 nights of a 9 week stay in Italy, I chose to stay outside of Rome for a change. I was not disappointed by this decision.

At the end of a recent 9 week stay in Italy, I chose this B&B for my last 6 nights. It is situated just outside the limits of Rome, in the little town of Zagarolo.

It proved the ideal place for me to “come back down to earth” before my return home, and also to enjoy just a few more days in Rome, as well as in the surroundings near Zagarolo.

I knew that I would have to travel to and from Zagarolo by regional train, but this posed no difficulty; I like train travel of any description, and the length of the trip (about 30 to 35 minutes, depending which train I caught), was not a problem to me.

Ivano and Terhi, the hosts, are truly warm, welcoming people. I was in one of the double rooms, which was just as advertised on their excellent web site. They love the area they live in, and also are so knowledgeable about Rome.

The double rooms are located at the bottom of a gentle sloping path that leads to the main house. You can choose to walk to and from the house (for breakfast and other meals), or Ivano or Terhi will come fetch you in one of their vehicles. (I walked!)

I loved the hearty breakfasts, and had my first taste of homemade Kiwi marmalade. The dinners were fun: good food, good talk, good local wine! Terhi grows a lot of the produce in her garden, Ivano is an excellent cook.

They are presently working on a kitchen/dining room/common room complex, just below the double rooms. When this is completed, guests will have access to internet and TV in the common room, and will be able to take their meals a few steps from their room.

I did enjoy having Ivano or Terhi act as a guide in Zagarolo and also Palestrina, and for a most tasty lunch at a trattoria in Castel San Pietro Romano. One day, they also accompanied other guests and me for a little personal tour in Rome. That day, we had lunch at L’Antica Birreria Peroni, on Via San Marcello, not far from Piazza Venezia.

The last evening, there was a special treat, a choral concert in a local church, in nearby Gallicano. The 2 choirs were from 2 small towns, Palestrina and Gallicano, while a talented orchestra was directed by a gent whose music, along with that of Signor Vivaldi, was featured. May I say the standard of the performance ranked with that of many larger cities?

During my time there, I was the only guest who had previously visited Rome. I heard nothing but happy, positive comments from the others. This is surely one of those lucky finds in Italy, a taste of the warmth and friendliness we associate with this country. I hope I’ll be able to go back, both to Italy and this B&B, one day!


Reviewed by: Lomon08 from England, review #2260

When: May 2008

A garden of Eden on the outskirts of Rome

I am not usually the sort of person to sit down and write a review on a holiday, but in this case I felt I just had to, just to let other travellers know about the charms of Il Colle Degli Ulivi.

Ivano and Terhi who run this wonderful place are the most charming and friendly people you would hope to meet, which helped make our stay even more enjoyable and relaxing.

Il Colle Degli Ulivi is basically a small and exclusive B&B in the heart of rural Rome/Lazio area, about 35km from Rome (and with a train station that connects directly to Rome, with trains on average leaving about every half hour).

It’s very well situated for those who want a quiet relaxing time whilst in the B+B, but also want to be within easy striking distance of the hustle and bustle of Rome City centre. This is taken care of due to the train station being only a short walk or drive away from the B&B.

We walked back from the station some evenings and it only took us about 20 minutess, at a stroll. It’s actually quite refreshing after the heat of Rome. You may need to take a torch [flashlight] with you though because it was a little dark in places.

Zagarolo station has only a couple of platforms so it’s a piece of cake to find which train you need, and since the train goes direct to Roma Termini it’s a hassle free journey with no worries about having to change trains. The trains run regularly and depending on which one you catch the journey only takes about 25 - 35 mins. to the centre of Rome Termini. We used this time to rest our legs before we hit the streets and heat of Rome…and it was also very handy for a rest on the return trip. If we were really pooped, we’d just call Terhi or Ivano and they were always willing to come and collect us from the station.

The accommodations are set in and around the tranquil gardens which are brimming with olive trees, a herb garden and the odd bit of wildlife including Terhi’s cats. Sitting amongst the trees or swinging on the hammocks you can while away the late afternoons and take it all in and plan your next day.

Our accommodation was ideal for us and it had a real rustic feel about it. It was one of three newly tastefully built rooms, which are located at the end of the garden, set in very pleasant surroundings. Our room consisted of one decent sized living / bedroom area, which was plenty big enough for the two of us.

It had a large double bed with fresh linen, a set of bunk beds (which we didn’t use), a large spacious wardrobe, two bedside cabinets with bedside lights and small table and chair, so there is somewhere to write the post cards. The bathroom was lovely and spotlessly clean and had fresh bright red towels. The shower box is the usual size and was super powerful, which was a real bonus. The wash basin was a good size with storage cupboards underneath. The toilet was spotless, as was the bidet.

Both rooms’ floors were tiled in terracotta, which was cool and comfortable to walk on. The walls were painted white and ceiling was exposed wood, which gave the rooms a real rustic feel. Double glazed windows plus outside shutters helped keep the room quiet and cool.

If I were going to fault the room on anything it would be one niggley thing. The bedside lamps weren’t bright enough, maybe due to the energy efficient bulbs being used, but they weren’t bright enough to read by. I was usually too tired to read anyway!

The weather wasn’t exactly in our favour when we were there, but Terhi and Ivano went out their way to help us out, coming to our aid on more than one occasion. I have never seen rain like it! Nothing was too much trouble for them, from giving us lifts back and forth to the station, helping us buy train tickets, advising us on places to visit, etc.

Taking a day out to go on one of the tours that they arrange is well worth paying out for. You will get to see things that normally would be out of reach for the average tourist. We managed to see some special things and places by going on some of these tours.

Meals are served in the dining room of Ivano and Terhi’s own house, although I think they have plans to build a new eating area by the new rooms at the end of the garden. Their dining room is a spacious room with a high ceiling. The large glass doors give great views out onto the gardens while you eat dinner. There is ample seating for everyone at the large table. There were ten of us for dinner one night and we all had plenty of elbow room.

The hearty breakfast is served up at the house and has something for everybody. Cereals, yoghurts, fruit, cheese, meats, biscuits, bread, juice and not forgetting the Nutella! A choice of hot drinks, including espresso, tea or cappuccino, was available.

Eating lunch or dinner is no problem either at Il Colle Degli Ulivi as Ivano and Terhi offer lunch and / or evening meals up at the house also. Just let them know in good time that you want to eat and they will do the rest. I have a restricted diet so Ivano planned the meals with this in mind with no problem.

Evening dinner is something not to be missed! The meals are all freshly made (as is lunch) and are usually made using home grown products which makes such a difference … get Ivano to cook you the crispy sage leaves mmmm!!! You will be hard pushed to find anywhere in Rome that serves food as fresh and as tasty as Ivano’s. Just make sure you are really hungry before you eat your evening meal because it’s not a meal he serves ... IT'S A FEAST!!!

Some nights we found ourselves sharing the dinner table with other guests. This seemed really daunting at first, but we soon came to enjoy it. Just eating, drinking wine and chatting to different people from around the world was so very relaxing and very fascinating. I am not the world’s best at conversations, but I really enjoyed it.

I know this is not a too informative review, but I hope you get a rough idea on how great this place is.

If you want tranquil surroundings in the evening after the hustle and bustle of a day in Rome (or a day trip to one of the many treasures in the vicinity such as Tivoli or Ostia Antica), then this is the place.

If you want a quiet day in the sun, just relaxing, followed by a lively evening in Rome, this is also the place.

You have the best of both worlds if you stay here!

We know we made the right choice by staying at Il Colle Degli Ulivi and we loved every moment of our stay. We will definitely return here again in the future when we come back to this area of Italy.


Reviewed by: IngleseJane from UK, review #2241

When: May 2007 and May 2008

A slice of paradise just a stone's throw from Rome, the Eternal City.

We stayed at Il Colle degli Ulive for 4 nights in 2007 and again for 9 nights in 2008, and wished we could have stayed for ninety nights instead! This truly is an enchanting place – peaceful, aromatic, and beautiful - which acts as a soul-reviving retreat from the hustle and heat of Rome.

The owners, Terhi and Ivano, are the personification of kindness, warmth and thoughtfulness. Nothing is too much trouble for them, and they spare no effort in making their guests feel welcome and special. Having stayed them in May 2007, we were welcomed back last week as if we were old friends, and felt immediately comfortable and at home.

We packed so many experiences into our short trips, without once feeling harried or pressured, so that the overall impression was that of a much longer stay, with a wealth of memories to savour. We were out-and-about exploring the countryside for much of each day, but returning to the cottage each evening was a delight as the surrounding olive grove is idyllic and peaceful.

All of the guest accommodation is spacious, cool, spotlessly clean, and generously and comfortably furnished with everything one could possibly need for a relaxing vacation. The kitchen contains everything needed to prepare meals (should one ever tire of Ivano’s cooking – which is unlikely!) and the lounge has a television, CD player etc. as well as a selection of books and CDs to while away the evening.

Relaxation and enjoyment were the order of the day, and from the moment of our arrival we enjoyed wonderful, freshly prepared, home-grown and home-made food (catered entirely to our tastes and brimming with flavour), that surpassed anything we ate in Rome, and all accompanied with delicious wine and good conversation. Many of the ingredients were picked fresh from the garden, and the flavours and colours of the organic produce were unbeatable.

We spent several whole days entirely in the company of our hosts, and never ran out of things to say or had to endure any uncomfortable silences. Between them, they speak English, Finnish, German and - of course - Italian, so communication is never a problem! They are both sincerely interested in discovering more about their guests and learning about different cultures, and in exchange they taught us so much about Italy and the beautiful surroundings of the Castelli Romani region. In their company, we were afforded a glimpse of the “real” Italy, and discovered that (unbelievably!) it’s even more delightful than the Italy we already loved from our visits to Rome.

The penultimate day of our stay was my birthday, and both Terhi and Ivano went out of their way to make the whole day memorable and special. As long as I live I’ll treasure the memory of that day, which included a visit to Pompei, followed by a drive along the winding Amalfi coastline to a soundtrack of Italian love songs (with a bit of Frank Sinatra thrown in for good measure). I felt like I’d been transported into a deliciously chic sixties movie, and it was a magical and unforgettable experience!

The highest compliment I can pay is that we didn’t miss Rome at all – and for two die-hard Rome lovers, that’s saying a lot! Rome is like a wonderful jewel, nestled in the wonderful setting of the Castelli Romani region, and exploring that region in the company of two such charming and knowledgeable hosts was a privilege and a pleasure.

We’ve only been home two days, and we’re already planning another visit to Il Colle degli Ulive, hungry for another slice of La Dolce Vita. Meanwhile in our imagination we are swinging gently in the hammocks in the early evening sunshine, sipping the king of wines, and watching cats chasing butterflies. Ah, it doesn’t get much better than that!

NOTE: This review is for B&B lodging; the chalet could also be rented as a vacation rental.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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