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Pompagnano: Convento di Agghielli

Near Spoleto, Phone: 0743.22510

Reviewed by: Mingus from Canada, review #586

When: May 2004

Impressive website; unimpressive experience. Definitely NOT recommended.

This place is in the village of Pompagnano just south of Spoleto. The website is very well-designed (except for the directions, which are non-existent) and the setting is lovely, but our experience was very unsatisfactory.

The website quotes 78 to 98 for a "double room, half board...per person per day for 2004" i.e., 156 to 196 for two, breakfast and dinner included. I emailed asking for the less expensive double and received a response - after several days and a reminder - that they could only offer us a double at 196. We agreed to this on the assumption that the less expensive double(s) were already booked, but discovered on our arrival that there was only one other couple staying there, and they were in the main building, where, we were told, the rooms were more expensive.

We put this down to some kind of "misunderstanding", but the discrepancy was never explained.

We also found ourselves in an "annex" of about 8 units some distance away from the main building, although neither the website nor the correspondence made it clear that this would be the case. We were the only ones there. From what we saw of the main convent building - which features prominently on the website - it is much better situated, with more common space where you can enjoy the surroundings.

The amenities in our room were as advertised, but the views were very limited and the central heating did not work. Since it was unseasonably cold, we could have used some heat to get the dampness out.

The biggest disappointment was the food. We did not expect gourmet cooking. What we did expect was an honest kitchen producing food with some care and respect for local ingredients. Our other meals in Umbria were simple but well-prepared. A lunch of tagliatelle ai funghi which we had in Spello the same day was inexpensive but memorably delicious.

At the Convento di Agghiello, the dinners were plain unappetizing: a couple of slices of cold roast pork that looked and tasted like a frozen tv dinner, a tagliatelle in which the flavours of the fresh wild asparagus was drowned in a tomato sauce, two greasy fried eggs with some minced truffles on the side, overcooked chard, undercooked fava beans.

The other two couples did not even show up for dinner the second evening, although it was included in their obligatory half-board. We were tempted to do the same, but perservered - unfortunately, to no avail.

Finally, the service. Although there were only a couple of other guests at the hotel during our stay, we never felt that we received the kind of warm and personal attention that we had taken to be the norm in other, much less expensive places we had been staying at in Tuscany. The proprietors were friendly enough when we saw them, which was not often, but seemed anxious to avoid us as much as possible, as if we were an inconvenience - even though the hotel was far from full.

When we asked on the first evening to speak to the proprietor (who was upstairs), we were told, that he was "unavailable". On the second evening, they had dinner with friends in plain view in a very pleasant room by the fireplace just off our dining room, but avoided eye contact and never bothered to come over to ask how we were enjoying our stay.

I would not recommend the Convento di Agghielli. Given the poor quality of the food and service compared to the other places we have stayed in this region, there are far better options.

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

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