> SlowTrav > Italy > Hotel Reviews > Lazio

Tolfa: Fontana del Papa

www.cookitaly.it

Reviewed by: natalie r from Australia, review #2418

When: September 2008

Here I finally experienced "La Dolce Vita"!!! No pictures or words could possibly describe the CHARMING ambiance that this LOVING family home presented to me.

Fontana del papa for me was one of the most *memorable* experiences in my life that I will always cherish. After having a lifelong fascination of this "bell paese" I finally experienced "La Dolce Vita". Pictures and words could not possibly describe the total loving serenity I was blessed with here at this "bellisima casa."

I had already visited 17 major countries in Europe, all of the must see destinations in Italy such as Rome, Florence and Venice seemed no different to them all. All such big, beautiful, busy cities with a countless number of tourists. Even though the Italian blood runs through my family I did not feel one bit connected to the land of any of these chaotic cities. This was all until what I believe was a miracle occurred.

The 17th of September 2008!!! It was my Mother's 50th Birthday and I thought what better way to *celebrate* than to be together and experience the life of the *true Italians*. "Fontana del Papa" suddenly captured my attention. At this beautiful "casa" in "la campagna" my family and I took pleasure in devouring the mouthwatering food. Sipping the full-bodied wine and taking in the tranquil ambiance that surrounded us.

The following day my family was ready for their next destination, however, I decided to be a little adventurous and fully live my heart's desires so I stayed. I believed that this place was *too good* to leave and knew there was so much *more* for me to experience here.

At Fontana del Papa I was part of "la famiglia". When it was time to leave I was glowing with happiness, peacefulness, and wellness. My stomach was more than satisfied; my notebook was filled with the simplest delightful recipes that could never be more appetizing. I even gained a taste for wine, but how could you not when it danced so magically with the hearty feasts we had prepared.

I have absolutely no regrets and believe that no price or star could rate how much this warm, loving family home is worth to me. I lived the culture and life of an Italian!!! It was one of the most memorable moments that I will truly always appreciate. This journey was like "un sogno" (a dream) and I would like to thank the family and the many others who made me and my family feel at home.

With love

Natalie ... or how the Italians would say Na-ta-lie xo


Reviewed by: Wendy & Rob from CA, review #1934

When: May 2007

The land is Etruscan, rich and beautiful. So is Fontana del Papa. We had five wonderful days.

FONTANA DEL PAPA An hour or so north of Rome, forty-five minutes north of Fumicino and twenty minutes east of Civitavecchia you will find this B&B in the Monti della Tolfa area.

*FONTANA DEL PAPA The name Fontana del Papa goes back to ancient times when the water drawn from the spring was once reserved for the Pope.

The terre is Etruscan, the land is beautiful and so is Fontana del Papa. This is our first, somewhat extended, trip to this area and we are staying for five nights at the beginning of May 2007 and everything is green. The fields are fresh with new growth, the vines and hedges are flourishing and the 620 olive trees have their leaves and the tones are all very soothing. Assuntina’s garden “Hortus” is full of young greens and lettuces, a few artichokes, zucchini and the stakes are up for the beans and tomatoes to grow onto.

*OUR HEARTS ARE FULLER: After just five days I never dreamed we would leave Fontana del Papa so fulfilled, so much more enriched and our hearts so much fuller, but we did. Two of these days were our chosen prize for Rob’s Rome photo album from the SlowTrav anniversary contest. We added three more nights, and we are very happy we did.

Fontana del Papa is family run by Assuntina and Claudio, with their three children. The “children” are both grown up and young -Luca 23, Emma 17 and Andrea their 13 year old son all doing something or lots of something. All three were charming, helpful and a joy to be around, though they weren’t around a lot.

There is of course Bartolo the very human and noble - just look in his eyes - sheepdog. And Guglielmo the 5/6 month old puppy who is all puppy, and trouble with a capital “T”, and a Total delight. Guglielmo would follow us around, practice his chase-the-lizard skills and torment/play with ever patient Bartolo, the turkey and the geese. He did best with Bartolo.

There is Stefano who was born here…he helped Assuntina and Claudio rebuild this 16th century stone farmhouse which was no easy feet. The building had been vacant for years, the water damage and lack of love showed up in many places. Our rooms seemed to have had the most damage, being the top two rooms in the original farmhouse structure. The ceiling had a lot of water damage, the floors were warped and the walls... Now, the terra-cotta floors and the wooden beams in the vaulted ceiling are fresh and strong and a real joy to look up on. They also added to the original structure and the flow is very nice and it gave the family their own apartment.

Now, Stefano does everything from working in the garden with Assuntina - where the fresh vegetables and herbs are grown to be used in the kitchen - to working in the olive groves with Claudio. There are 500 ancient olive trees and 120 relatively new ones and they make wonderful rich, almost, emerald green olive oil. I believe they are working on building their own cold-press mill in the very near future. Stefano helps in everything from the outdoor oven, setting up the table in the morning and at night to helping out the guests when needed.

There are cooking classes available, at the moment taught by Julia . You can come for a day course, over a couple of days/weekend or as a week package. (You can check out their cooking school information on the website.)

In the evening local cooks will come in to prepare and cook the dinner. We had arranged to have our first nights dinner at Fontana del Papa and after that we didn’t want to eat anywhere else! The food was nothing less than marvelous!

On that first night with a fire of olive wood burning in the great hearth we shared the table - and what a gorgeous table it is which will seat 10 to 12 - with two other couples. One of the couples was from Switzerland and had been there for a few days hiking the area - it is full of walking paths and hiking trails. The other couple came from upstate NY and had only just read about Fontana del Papa a couple of days prior - on “Slow Trav” as a matter of fact - and found that there was a room available for them for the night. (I believe there is an added 20% fee for one night stays, as it usually is a two night minimum.) The six of us got along exceptionally well and sat at the table well into the wee hours of the morning.

That first night it was Gabriela who did the cooking with some help from Assuntina and Stefano. We started with a Sardinian specialty - Gabriela originally coming from Sardegna - that was made for the family but was so generously shared with all of us “Lumache con mentuccia e pomodoro” = thin bread slices with medium size snails simmered in a tomato broth. This was delicious and very light, with the flavors just teasing the tongue. We each had about 10 snails and everyone ate every bite, even Rob.

We then moved to our primi which was “Gnocchetti Sardi”. I watched Gabriela as she made the gnocchetti, taking small sections of the pasta dough and rolling it out in flour till she had long thin streams of the dough. Then sending the dough through a small pasta maker - this small hand crank machine had three different heads available and one of them was for the gnocchetti - small gnocchi, the size of my pinkie fingernail, with multiple ridges throughout. After making hundreds of these they were boiled and added with a pomodoro and sausage ragu/sauce. A huge serving bowl was placed on the table and we all dug in. OMG, can it get any better than this… I don’t think so, truly.

Claudio poured for us a very nice Barbera which matched the flavors of our dinner perfectly. We would go through several bottles before that night was through.

After a short time the next course was brought out, two large platters holding the lamb and potatoes - both of which had been cooked in the outdoor oven by Stefano, Assuntina and Claudio. These were both exceptionally flavorful and though we were all pretty full we put a good dent in both.

For our dolci Claudio brought out VinSanto and Assuntina a platter of Biscottini di Natale, a softer biscotti with chocolate bits.

And there was yet another very special treat still in store for us ... Claudio - a trained sommelier - brought out an exceptionally smooth grappa for all of us to try. A three year old Torba Nera by Castagner. Rich in color and not at all the “firewater” people think of when they think of grappa. Also placed on the table was the families limoncello. Did we sample all of them? You bet!

If we wondered what heaven was like we found it here that night. And lucky for us we had four more to go.

Around 1:30, after clearing the table, the six of us left for our rooms. There are neither televisions nor phones, just the sounds of the night and the clear sky to enjoy. It is all very comforting with the birds calling and singing throughout the night.

We woke late, but out on the “exedra” - a shaded terrace overlooking one of the olive groves - the table was still set for our breakfast with blood oranges to be squeezed, various fruits and yogurts, cereal, breads and an assortment of cornetto. Assuntina made us a couple of cappuccini and we were set.

We could have stayed there for the day and just relaxed, walked the olive groves and the park-like property but there was new land to explore and a ruined castello and rocca to check out. So off we went.

That night we were the only guests so instead of having Gabriela or Julia come in to cook for just us, we decided to go in to town for dinner. And what a feast Rob and I shared, but that is another story and review.

*COLOR, LIGHT AND SOUNDS OF FONTANA DEL PAPA:

These are three things that I feel Fontana del Papa is about, along with family, olives, the good rich earth and cooking, of course.

-COLOR ...

...Many of the interior walls that aren’t of stone, are painted the color of Cinabro - a local mineral. This is the color of the earth that the people of this land have used for centuries. They used to make brick with cinabro and Assuntina has painted many of the interior walls with this vibrant, warm and yet soothing color. The early morning and evening light bounces wonderfully off the walls. And the richness of it just seeps into you, at least it did me.

Another color used here is a Butter Yellow. As a matter of fact the walls in our two room suite were of this soft yellow - where there wasn’t stone or hearth. For that matter the local stone is also a shade of soft yellow, close to a butter tone.

Greens, our bathroom tile was what I would call the green from the flesh of a honeydew melon and I saw one of the other bathrooms and the room was tiled in what I would call lime green. That particular bathroom had an over-sized sunken tub/open shower - very romantic. Both greens were so fresh and just perfect.

-LIGHT ...

... Was amazing. Our living room window looked east, so we had early morning light streaming in and our view looked over one of the olive groves, fields and the hills in the distance. Our bedroom and bathroom had windows facing west which looked toward the entrance, yard and pool. We were lucky to have both early morning and evening light in our rooms. -SOUNDS ...

... There were cucus - Cuculo. Yes, real live cucus. I learned they migrate from Africa to this area every March to June. When Rob first heard “cucu-cucu” he thought there must be a clock downstairs, but I thought it came from the orchard, which it did. (They sound just like the clocks you might hear.) The turkey gobble-gobble-gobbled, the geese honked, the chickens clucked and the birds sang day and night. The light breeze passed pleasingly through the trees and as a whole it made this area, the Etruria area, of Lazio a wonderful place to visit.

*OUR JUNIOR SUITE

We had our choice of rooms when I made our reservations, and after perusing the website we chose the Junior Suite named “Fontana del Papa”. I thought having our own living room to relax in after a day terrorizing - I mean touring - the countryside, a top floor location and a fireplace in the bedroom would be perfect ... and I was correct.

After we climbed the stone stairway and passed through the double wooden doors we entered our own sitting/living room. We spent a fair amount of time in here, sitting in either the over-sized armchair or on the -sleeper- sofa. We read through several of the books provided by Assuntina and Claudio on the Monti della Tofla area while enjoying wine in the early evening or grappa after returning from dinner. Also in this room stands the armoire where we kept our clothes and shoes which was very convenient as the bathroom is off this room.

There was a great hearth/fireplace in our bedroom with an endless supply of olive wood just outside our front door, but we never burned a fire in the five nights we were there. It was probably cool enough in the evening, but we enjoyed the fireplace in the dining room and we were happy with that. There was a four poster bed with lovely sheets and comforters, a four drawer bureau and a chair by the window so that you can sit and read, gaze out over the front yard, entrance and in the not to far distance the pool and fish pond, or just to let your mind wander.

The bathroom was large with a freestanding sink, toilet and bidet, two chairs and the shower which was truly a double shower, with two showerheads that let the water fall down on you as if you were in a rainforest. We didn’t shower together, but we could have!!! There is more than enough room.

-SOME OF THE OTHER ROOMS:

Assuntina showed me the other “private” sitting/living room and the two rooms that share that area and one of the two private baths - the one with the sunken tub/shower. These rooms were awash with the color of cinabro, so very inviting and would be wonderful for friends or a family traveling together.

In the dining room area there is a sitting area/loft with lots of books, magazines and music to choose from. Even though we had our own sitting room we did find ourselves here a couple of times having a conversation with the couple who arrived on our third day. They were staying four or five days and had cooking classes, a day trip by train to Rome and an afternoon in Tarquinia on a private tour given by Claudio, all planned for them by Assuntina.

-THE KITCHEN AND SOME OF THE FOOD:

The kitchen is magic, certainly the food created there was. Colored walls, herbs hanging to dry and yet to be used, stainless steel appliances, open shelves and a large freestanding woodblock table make up the kitchen...along with all the fragrant aromas wafting up from the pots on the stove.

On our third night - second dinner -we started with fresh raw Fava Beans - from the garden - and pecorino. I don’t think this was in the plans, but after entering the kitchen I saw a bag of in-their-pods fava beans and inquired about them, the next thing I knew a bowl of the pods and a cutting board with the cheese was being brought to the dining room table for us to enjoy with our glasses of white wine. The first course was a Minestra - Minestrone - with beans, chicory, rice and potatoes.

And for the secondi we had a huge bowl presented to us with fava beans cooked with the skin of pig/pork. So fresh and yet very hearty. A platter of potato crocchette - made with riced cooked potato and a small amount of ground sardine with a small piece of mozzarella placed in the center before rolling that in bread crumbs and cooking on the stove in oil. This was one of my favorite dishes.

To finish the four of us shared a Crosata, with Assuntina’s preserves between the layers of crust that Gabriela had just made. There was white wine to start and red to follow, caffee and limoncello to top it all off.

Our fourth night - third dinner - the four of us came together again: Given that Claudio is a trained and licensed sommelier, before we sat down for dinner that evening, we were given a lesson/tasting on Brunello wines. Claudio opened a bottle, pouring each of us a glass and asking us to swirl and then to put our noses to the glass letting our noses pick the flavor out and then asking us to take just a small sip. Then he talked about the grape, wine and foods to match. He had done this on our first night discussing grappas, both very informative.

The next night we had a different Minestra, this time with artichokes and pasta. Light and delightful- I went back for seconds.

For the secondi there was roasted sausage in wine and padella with chicory from the garden. The artichokes in the Minestra were of course also from the garden.

To complete the dinner we enjoyed a light and moist - Moretta con nutella - cake with jam and nutella which we could have put on the cake, but the cake on its own was how we both enjoyed our dessert.

In the morning, the cake that was left over was on the table along with the other breads, goodies, yogurt, fruit and Nutella.

On our last night at Fontana del Papa there were four of us at the table and we feasted on ever flowing pizza, six pizzas actually. Using the outdoor pizza oven and bringing them in one or two at a time we started with pizza con fiori di zucca e mozzarella, then pizza con carciofi, pizza con patate e rosmarino, pizza con pancetta e pecorino, pizza con rucola and the last one was maionese e pomodoro fresco. They kept coming and we kept eating.

These were accompanied by a couple of bottles of wine and finished off with a sugar-dusted chocolate cake with a sweet frosting between the two layers. This was very tasty then and even better in the morning.

On our last morning I wasn’t feeling my best - maybe because we had to leave? - so I opted for a pot of tea instead of my morning cappuccino. Claudio had mentioned on our first day how they - as a family - have always been organic and all medical treatments homeopathic so I put my health into his hands and asked what kind of tea they might have to make me feel better. His suggestion was Red Tea. So with the tea and a small slice of cake we sat at their table for the last time.

We loved being guests of Assuntina and Claudio, but we also remembered that this was their home and a passion for them and everyone there - on a daily basis.

This is a place where the people, family/families, the land and the time experienced are truly priceless. We will remember this first, certainly not our last, visit with vibrant images running through both of our minds.

Please, go and visit for yourself. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say ...


Reviewed by: Merry A from FL, review #1893

When: May 2007

A Slice of Paradise just 1 hour north of Rome which was the highlight of our Italy trip.

Fontana Del Papa had the most glowing reviews on Slow Travel which made me determined to stay there - and I couldn't have been happier.

We were 2 women (in the "Boomer" age range) exploring the Tuscany and Umbria regions by car. As we headed back towards Rome, our departure city, we stopped at this beautiful 16th century farmhouse for the last night, calling the day before to make sure a room with 2 beds was available. Luckily the one room that would accommodate us was not booked.

We arrived at around 2:00 in the afternoon and immediately fell in love with the place. Assuntina, the owner, asked if we were hungry. We were served an amazingly delicious lunch and now I was truly hooked. I didn't want to leave. We spent the next 24 hours exploring the area, eating 3 more incredible meals (dinner that night and breakfast and lunch the following day), enjoying the company of the lovely family and generally rejuvenating before our long trip home.

Our room was simply beautiful with two very comfortable twin beds, sumptuous linens, fresh flowers, exposed beams, wonderful artwork, and an fabulous view of the countryside. The rate was 120E including breakfast and we paid extra for the additional meals.

There is something so special about Fontana Del Papa it's almost hard to put into words. One feels thoroughly welcomed and cared for among the beauty while eating and drinking exceptional food and wine. I fully intend to return with my family as I want them to experience this remarkable place.


Reviewed by: Suzanne from MD, review #1857

When: October 2006

A wonderful and relaxing small hotel in the hills of Lazio. Enjoy fresh locally grown food, learn about wine and olives, enjoy the hospitality of Lazio.

As I was travelling alone I was looking for a small hotel away from the crowds. Fontana del Papa was the perfect place to relax, learn some new recipes, learn about the olive harvest, and enjoy Italy during the autumn (October).

Claudio and Assuntina are wonderful hosts, their children are a delight, and the staff are very friendly. They want you to learn about their part of Lazio: its culture, food and traditions. Since it was the time of the autumn harvest there were chestnuts, mushrooms and black truffles to enjoy.

Anna was fun to cook with. She has a wonderful sense of humor and was very patient with us. Whether we did the cooking, or Anna was cooking solo, it was delicious. The wood-fired pizza was the best pizza I've ever had. Daniela prepared breakfast each day and always had a smile ready and indulged me with 'just one more cup of coffee, per favore'. Stefano lit fires every evening and brought in mushrooms, persimmons and chestnuts for us to enjoy.

My room was warm and inviting. Assuntina made room for me to stay a few extra days, so I actually stayed in two different rooms. Both were very comfortable, quiet and clean. The property has several paths for walking around to take in the views of the hills, search out wild flowers, or a visit to the resident turkey !

Claudio took us around on day trips to surrounding towns, including visits to the olive press to pick up the freshly pressed oil. Claudio was very willing to share his knowledge of olive cultivation. The olive oil from Fontana del Papa is superior. He is also a sommelier and the wines we had each evening were perfetto !

Assuntina once said to me that Fontana del Papa was their home, and it was also a place for their guests to visit. Assuntina and Claudio work very hard to give their guests a warm and inviting home when they stay at Fontana del Papa. I returned from Italy refreshed and am planning a return visit to Fontana del Papa in 2007.


Reviewed by: GinaAtlanta from USA, review #1754

When: December 2006

We did not know what to expect when we booked this B&B for Christmas. We were delighted at the beauty of this place and the wonderful food!

Fontana del Papa, photo by J. Lafiosca

Spending Christmas in an Italian countryside 16th century farmhouse was a risky proposition. Like so many other Americans, the holidays are usually a time that we spend with family, enjoying the food and traditions that we cherish. This year, we decided that it might be fun to try something new. With our grown children's blessing to "go and have a great time", we ventured to a small Italian town situated between Rome and Florence, high up in the hills of ancient Etruria, Italy. The results were extraordinary.

Claudio and Assuntina Pierotti, owners of "Fontana del Papa", along with their children, Luca, Emma and Andrea, welcomed us like members of their family and immediately we felt at home.

Our suite included a very large and beautifully appointed bedroom, complete with a romantic fireplace, four poster bed with delicious soft down quilts, beautiful bed linens, unbelievable paintings by a gifted local artist; a sitting room with a comfortable sofa, club chair, armoire, and table filled with books describing the region and all of its history. We felt as if we had gone back in time, but with all of the comforts of today!

Each day proved better than the last. Fontana del Papa offered cooking classes by a local woman, a culinary genius, who patiently and lovingly showed us step by step how to create true Italian feasts with simple preparation and a few essential ingredients. One of those ingredients is the olive oil produced from the hundreds of olive trees that embrace their landscape and lend a sense of tranquility to the countryside.

Claudio, a sommelier, offered us expert tutorials on the essentials of knowing good wine from "not so good" wine and each lesson ended with a wine tasting of many of Claudio’s finest collection.

During the day we took trips to surrounding towns, like Tarquinia, steeped in Etruscan history predating ancient Rome. The journeys included lively conversations with Claudio, a knowledgeable historian, with a wonderful sense of humor.

In the evenings when we returned to Fontana del Papa, we found a fire burning in the fireplace and the smells of culinary miracles coming from "la cucina".

This year we gave ourselves the best gift ever, the trip of a lifetime in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The added blessing was sharing it with this extraordinary family who will remain in our hearts forever - a risk that paid off “molto grande”.


Reviewed by: Howard A from MA, review #1664

When: November 2006

An absolutely wonderful place for a cooking week vacation

What did we like best about our stay at Fontana Del Papa ? Was it the beautiful farmhouse ? Was it the wonderful scenery ? Was it the fun we had with the other guests ? Was it the terrific cooking lessons with Anna ?

All these were amazing, but the best thing about our vacation cooking week was the atmosphere created by our hosts Assuntina and Claudio. We felt so well cared for, so at home at Fontana. We loved it so much we plan to return next year.


Reviewed by: LalawLucy from NY, review #1573

When: July 2006

This is the real Italy ... an absolutely wonderful place, you won't want to leave! A great place where you are treated like family!

We found this place searching various websites for things to do with children in italy. "Cooking with kids" sounded like a wonderful experience for our children, ages 3 and 6 who already loved to cook with Mommy in the kitchen at home ... what we got, however, was so much more !!

This is an experience with a real Italian family who are welcoming and accommodating ... it was one of the nicest days we spent on our trip to Italy. Here, it is not like you pay for a hotel and stay.... it is hard to put in words, but when you are there -- you are family. When it was time to go, we left with big hugs & fond memories, but I'll start at the beginning ...

We arrived in Civitavecchia by train, to be greeted by Claudio (owner), who took us to the beautifully restored farmhouse. We were greeted immediately by his wife, Assuntina (owner). They allowed us to relax a bit, told us about the house and the restorations they did, and we chatted a bit over a cup of coffee. A short while later, we began cooking. Oh What Fun! Anna was an amazing cook. Although she didn't speak much English, Assuntina was there to translate, and answered questions about ingredients, etc., that were being used in the various recipes! Everything we made from ravioli to tiramisu was absolutely delicious ! We spent 3 weeks in Italy and the foods we ate at Fontana del Papa were the best by far!!

The kids were welcomed by this beautiful Italian family & they too had fun! They dressed them up in their own little aprons & chef's hats ... too cute !! The family also gave us a room to use for the day to wash up, etc. When my children fell asleep in the middle of the day, they were very accommodating, again, offering beds upstairs in the house. Instead, we opted for the lounge chairs they brought us, and while they slept, my husband and I shared a nice afternoon overlooking the beautiful landscape of the property including the olive trees, relaxing and chatting on the outside terrace with Claudio, and then later with some other guests who were spending the night at Fontana del Papa. Later, when my children awoke, we took a drive with Claudio to Tolfa where we were escorted by his son up to a castle on top of the mountain, which overlooks the entire City. The views from here were breathtaking!

Later on, when we returned to the house, preparation began for the brick oven pizza. While some participated in the pizza lesson inside, others were out on the deck with Claudio as he gave a wine lesson. Unfortunately, my children were afraid of Bartolo... a wonderfully calm, adorable, but LARGE, dog... so whenever he came around, my children were afraid and wanted to be held. Don't get me wrong...the dog did nothing... it was simply my children's fear of an animal that large. So, this made the wine tasting part a bit difficult because Bartolo was around. I felt so bad about this, because he really was not bothering anyone. Again, to demonstrate the accommodating nature of the family... all afternoon they had put Bartolo in a room away from the children in the house !

But finally, the pizzas were ready to be put in the brick oven outside. We were brought inside to the beautiful dining room where we ate the pizza - about 8 different types ! Of course, we were given wines with our meals.

Also, we had also made a tiramisu earlier in the day. I had asked Assuntina if I could take a small piece back home for my husband's family to taste (they were back in Rome) Not only did she immediately give me a tin-pan of the tiramisu, which was enough for about 6 people, she also wrapped up some of the left over pizza, which we enjoyed back in Rome the next day! All in all, the home is beautiful, but the people make the experience even more beautiful.

We left at almost 11 o'clock in the evening (Having arrived at 9 in the morning), and although we only spent the day, we felt as though we were in another world for a week! We had a wonderful experience here with our children. We learned a lot about cooking, and are proud to say, we've been back home in NY for a month now, and have yet to buy one box of pasta ... we've been making pasta & pizzas with our children even here at home! The tiramisu recipe has been a big hit here at home as well !! We definitely wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Fontana del Papa.

While we were there, they were working on a pool on the property which I understand is now completed. Next time around, we would certainly consider a longer stay at this wonderful place and have already recommended it to several friends. Grazie Assuntina, Claudio & Anna. We miss you already !!


Reviewed by: KS Fair Lady from KS, review #1535

When: July 2006

We highly recommend this place for anyone wanting a quiet, peaceful place that has the best Italian food anywhere, in our opinion.

Fire Oven for Pizza, photo by ourselves

We, regretfully, only planned one night at Fontana del Papa, following a 10 day cruise. Our main purpose was to take a lesson in Italian cooking and have a lesson on wine. We really needed more time and fewer students in the class. Preferrably adult only. The limit was to have been six, but there were two young children and with their parents and the four of us it was not a good learning situation. The children were also present for the wine class and although they were adorable children, it was all but impossible to follow Claudio because of their interruptions.

We loved everything else about our stay. We had just come from a busy 10 day cruise filled with lots of activities. The secluded location of Fontana del Papa with its peaceful and quiet surroundings was a perfect way to end a trip.

There is a positive energy that is felt from this area of ancient olive trees and wonderful Italian people making you feel welcomed.

The rooms were all exceptionally clean and comfortable. The food was outstanding. Our group agreed that Fontana del Papa makes the best pizza in all of Italy. The ravioli was also superb.

We were also very pleased at the transportation from the cruise ship and to Rome the next day. Our friends were taken to the airport and we were taken on into Rome to continue our trip.

Although we rarely repeat an area of travel, this is one place I could easily go back to. The previous reviews are all very accurate in describing the place and the people. We loved it.

The breakdown of the cost in euros was as follows: 120 for transfer from Civittavecchia Pier for 4 people 140 transfer to Fiumicino airport for 2 people 150 transfer to Rome hotel for 2 people 145 per person for cooking class including meals and wine tasting 35 per person for pizza at the fire oven 70 per person for B&B

Again, we highly recommend Fontana del Papa.


Reviewed by: Nigel from UK, review #1521

When:

The perfect family-run farmhouse in the countryside an hour from Rome. Excellent cooking courses, beautiful setting and the very best hospitality.

I've just returned from a fantastic week long cookery course staying at Fontana Del Papa, a beautifully restored farmhouse about 1 hour from Rome. Its located in lovely unspoilt countryside near a small hillside town called Tolfa.

The farmhouse is run by a local family, Claudio and Assuntina, whose warmth, hospitality, enthusiasm and passion made the holiday so special.

The farmhouse has been renovated and decorated to a very high standard. It's a place that can't help but make you relax. The food was the best I've had anywhere (each lunch and dinner was a joy). The cookery classes run with the assistance of their cook, Ana, were very good and such fun. Assuntina and Claudio are very flexible - if you want to learn a particular dish, they are very accommodating. Each day they will discuss with you what kind of dishes you would like to learn. Ana's attention to detail when it comes to the food is second-to-none. At the same time however, the cooking classes always remain relaxed.

In addition to all of this, they drive you to some lovely towns and villages in the region which they will bring to life with their local knowledge and stories. What I most loved about the week there is that Assuntina and Claudio make you feel part of the family. I feel like I have acquired a new family in Italy and will definitely be returning there. It's the personal touch and your involvement in their daily lives that makes the whole experience unique.

A few other things: They will pick you up and take you to the airport or to the train station as part of the overall package.

I did a lot of research on this type of holiday and I can say that this is very reasonably priced -- taking into account the quality of the accomodation, the food and wine, the cookery lessons, the day trips, the airport transfers and the exceptional hospitality.

They grow a lot of their own produce organically and they make their own olive oil from the olive groves on their land (the best I've had for sure).

There are bikes available which are great for exploring the surrounding landscape.

About half a mile from the house are some hot springs which work wonders.

They are currently building a swimming pool which I understand will be finished very soon. This will only add to the magic of this place.


Reviewed by: 2valentines from WA, review #1456

When: May 2006

Fabulous cooking lessons at a beautiful B & B!

We spent the last part of our honeymoon in Italy at Fontana Del Papa. We knew it would be a nice place to stay, but it was so much MORE than we expected! Assuntina and Claudio are amazing hosts and we really enjoyed getting to know their family. We were lucky enough to be the only guests at their home while we were there and therefore our cooking classes were really one on one. We both love to cook and learned some great tips from Anna, the cook.

The meals were all delicious and the best part is that we have already made some of the recipes back here in the US. We actually had a huge Italian cooking night with 7 of our friends & family and everyone enjoyed the meal! We were inspired by them to start our own garden to draw the herbs and vegetables from for our meals.

Their home is gorgeous and very clean. They have a beautiful dining room where guests eat, however we found eating in the kitchen with the family and staff much more fun. It was a true emersion with their family and we will definitely go back in the future. Next time we will bring our family and friends to book the other rooms!

They have an amazing organic olive farm which produces tasty olio (olive oil). We bought a huge can to bring back and we suggest you do to! Claudio also gave us an informative wine tasting, unlike any tastings we have done in the US. It was a true wine tasting experience and we have shared some of his knowledge with our family and friends.

Overall, it was the trip of a lifetime…and again, we will definitely go back one day!


Reviewed by: Jeannew from PA, review #1423

When: April 2006

A delightful country stay.

We enjoyed our last four days in Italy at Fontana del Papa. The peaceful country location is convenient to FCO, the coast, many top Etruscan sites and lovely country drives. An easy 1 km walk down the road are the hot springs of Bagnorello. We had their smallest room, Olivella, for €90 per night over Easter weekend. The room and private bath were clean and comfortable with a view of the olive groves. The communal sitting and dining rooms with fireplace were always available for lounging and socializing.

A breakfast of yogurt, cheeses, meat, breads, pastries, fruits and beverage of choice was included with the room rate. Other meals were available for additional charge and we had several during our stay. The food was excellent - as mentioned in other reviews. Wild asparagus was in season and we had the spears that the cooking class guests had gathered in several delicious dishes.

What made the stay most memorable was the tireless hospitality of Assuntina, Claudio and staff. They truly take an interest in the comfort of all their guests and go out of their way to share their knowldege of food, wine and local culture. We are looking forward to doing one of their all inclusive stays in the future. These include all meals and many classes and excursions, depending on the theme.


Reviewed by: anita T from NY, review #1418

When: March 2006

Beatiful country setting. Wonderful and friendly family. Would highly recommend this as a place to visit.

Fontana Del Papa in Tolfa, photo by Don

My husband and I stayed at the Fontana Del Papa for one week in March. We wanted a relaxing vacation and as we both enjoy cooking found this lovely place.

Fontana del Papa is run by Assuttina and Claudio they both went out of their way to make our stay fun and interesting. Anna who was our instructor for our cooking class was a joy to learn from. Not only is she an excellent cook she is a great lady.

Our room was clean and would I would give the overall B&B a very high rating. The food was outstanding and Claudio and Assutina took us all over the Lazio area. The cost of our stay for one week was reasonable after looking at other places on line. We plan to go back again.


Reviewed by: Susan from CT, review #1385

When: February 2006

Fontana Del Papa was the highlight of our Italian Holiday.

My husband, three sons and I had the pleasure of staying at Fontana Del Papa in February. The beautiful Bed and Breakfast/ Cooking School is located about an hour north of Rome. The owners are special people. Assuntina and Claudio run a first rate establishment.

I found Fontana while researching our Italian trip on Slow Travel. I agree with all of the wonderful comments that other guests have made. The villa is spectacular. The organic farm was an oasis. Our boys will never forget climbing the old olive trees and playing with Bart (the sheep dog) the many geese and chickens and the largest, friendliest turkey we have ever seen.

Our rooms were decorated beautifully. No detail was overlooked. Beautiful fires roared in the fireplaces and the friendly, family atmosphere is exactly what we were hoping for.

We had a family cooking lesson with Anna. She is a beautiful, kind lady. She taught us how to make ravioli, chicken and the most delicious tiramisu. We have already wowed our friends and family with our new culinary skills! Our youngest son is a red head. He and Anna had a special bond. Her "Rosito" misses her.

Aussintina, Claudio, Andrea and Emma are special people. They are a warm, interesting, and wonderful family. We are grateful that they opened their home to us and taught us so much about Italian life and culture.

We look forward to returning to Fontana Del Papa. I don't think a trip to Italy would be complete without a stay at this magical place.


Reviewed by: Eve V from MD, review #1285

When: November 2005

Heaven in Tolfa! Fontana del Papa is an Italian dream in the beautiful mountains of Tolfa just north of Rome. A truly memorable place to stay in Italy.

Fontana del Papa is a beautiful 16th century stone farmhouse renovated with all the modern conveniences of home. My husband and I stayed in a lovely private suite overlooking the mountains and hills of Rome. The home is situated on a working olive grove amidst a farm with fresh vegetables and animals.

We woke up to delicious cappuccino and fresh orange juice. Our hosts Assuntina and Claudio showed us an inside view of what living in Italy is like. I learned how to make fresh pasta and tasted the most delicious wines of the area.

Claudio drove me to Tarquinia to visit the Etruscan tombs and museum, and taught me about the Etruscan culture which was around long before the Romans.

Our dinners consisted of first rate dining with everflowing wine and after dinner drinks. The family graciously surprised me for my birthday with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a delicious cream filled cake with candles. We enjoyed every bit of our trip including our personal watchdog, Bartelo their sheepdog, who slept outside our room protecting us.

Staying at Fontana del Papa will give you memories of a lifetime. Eve and Barry from Maryland!


Reviewed by: Xandra from MA, review #1138

When: July 2005

Magnificent B&B located in the hill town of Tolfa.

My last night in Italy was spent at Fontana del Papa, a B&B located in the hill town of Tolfa. It was magnificent and the owners, Assuntina and Claudio made me feel like part of the family.

I had a luxurious suite consisting of a large fire-placed sitting room, with an adjoining beautifully decorated bedroom and bath. I slept most comfortably in the canopied queen sized bed. Before bed, I was satiated by wine and a delicious meal made from all fresh ingredients from their garden. Dessert was tiramisu served with another wine which complemented this scrumptious dessert. Claudio is an expert on wines and told me the history of those served that evening. Wonderful experience!!! I recommend this B&B and would like to return there myself.


Reviewed by: ginda from Italy, review #1121

When: July 2005

Beautiful accommodations in a relaxed family setting, in unspoiled countryside north of Rome.

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Tolfa, north of Rome, at Fontana del Papa, where we attended a two-day cooking class. The teacher was superb, generously sharing secrets passed down through the years, from mother to daughter and learning in this fashion is the essence of authentic Italian cooking. Our hosts, Claudio and Assunta, pulled us into their home the first evening as we sat around the forno a legna and consumed one delectable pizza after another. Drawing us into their family circle could have easily distracted us from the fact that we were staying in a most agreeable B&B, where the accommodations were rustic, relaxed and yet lavish in design and comfort.

As innkeepers ourselves, we felt totally spoiled by this get-away and would recommend it to anyone seeking the tranquility of unspoiled countryside. Cooking classes are optional but are a special part of one’s stay here and it would be a shame not to take advantage of their hands-on lessons in the kitchen.


Reviewed by: Ladyplus from USA, review #1056

When: March 2005

A beautiful B&B just an hour away from Roma. Fontana del Papa offers a serene atmosphere away from the hustle & bustle of the the city.

Fontana del Papa is a masterfully restored 16th Century country home nestled in the hills of Tolfa, conveniently located about an hour North of Roma and minutes away from the port of Civitavecchia. With the option of day trips to Roma, it's the perfect place to stay for your Roman holiday. Staying there with a warm Italian family was the most memorable time of my trip to the region of Lazio.

The Bed & Breakfast was immaculate, and tastefully decorated, with works of art created by local artist adorning the walls. Claudio and Assuntina (owners) pay attention to every little detail and made us all (family) feel at home. This old house is beautiful and full of character from the inside and out. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, each with its own bathroom.

My family shared three adjoining rooms including a sitting room with a wood burning fireplace. The view of the colorful mountains outside my bedroom window was spectacular to look at, especially in the mornings, when I watched the sunrise slowly appear above the mountain tops.

The food and Italian wines were delicious & plentiful. We ate until our hearts were content. There are plenty of activities for everyone's interest. We were offered a long list of activities range from day trips to Roma, the Etruscan Tombs to art, pottery, Italian cooking classes and more.

As for the cooking classes, Luciana (family friend and cook) comes to the house daily to cook meals and to teach guest how to cook an authentic Italian home meal. Luciana doesn't follow the recipes from a book. Instead she carries a list of ingredients and preparations in her head, but is eager to share her secrets with you. She whips up a rustic, 5 course Italian meal effortlessly. And, even though Luciana doesn't speak English, other than the words from a few songs by the Beatles, with her spicy personality, she was able to put a smile on everyone's face each day. On any given day, you could find me and one of my sisters in the kitchen, cooking with Luciana. The kitchen was a place where people could wander in and out, talking laughing, sampling food, dinking and wine.

I was fortunate to bring home with me a half liter bottle of the most delicious organic olive oil, produced by the family as well as a jar of sweet honey from the son of Luciana. Fontana del Papa is not only a B&B that offers culinary classes, it's a retreat where you are able to relax and learn about Italian culture. Speaking of relaxation, my other sister enjoyed each day by relaxing under the sun, on the outside patio area with Bartolo (family sheep dog), taking in fresh air and surrounded by beautiful olive trees. My nephews enjoyed the company of Luca (when around), Emma, the shy one and Andrea, a wonderful young man. They also went biking, horse back riding nearby and loved all of the attention from the family and kids. No one wanted to leave!

We can't wait to return to Fontana del Papa and our friends. Claudio and Assuntina have done an amazing job at creating the perfect atmosphere, catering to their guests, ensuring the most relaxing, enjoyable time. Our stay at this beautiful B&B is unforgettable! Our only regret is that we stayed in Roma for three days prior to our wonderful venture out to Fontana del Papa, a place that soothes your soul and everyone's home away from home.


Reviewed by: Anita from UK, review #1037

When: May 2005

Lovely stay with an Italian family who have a passion for the services they offer, and a warmth and friendliness that would be difficult to match elsewhere.

Fontana del Papa is situated in a wonderful location and is surrounded by mountains, yet only 20 minutes from the beach and within an hour of the city of Rome.

Assuntina and Claudio take their guests into the family and offer small cookery schools throughout the year. They both speak English well, and have a relaxed approach to the itinerary, allowing guests to use their time in their own preferred manner. A typical day would include a cookery class with Anna (who is a lovely lady as well as being an exceptional cook) and maybe a trip out to one of the local villages to see the sights. The evening is a treat, as Claudio proudly teaches about Italian wines, and dinner is served complete with the results of the cooking of the day!

The rooms at Fontana del Papa are of an exceptionally high standard and far exceeded our expectations. Large and comfortable, with homely touched and artwork by a local artist, you feel at home, and not in a soulless hotel environment.

A pretty sun patio is at the back of the house, allowing for a lazy afternoon reading a book or watching the antics of the family animals...

All the fresh produce at Fontana del Papa is grown organically and picked daily from their own garden. The vegetables just burst with flavour and their home made olive oil just adds to their wonderful taste.

Fontana del Papa is a lovely way to spend some time in this part of Italy, and we hope to return very soon.


Reviewed by: denise from MT, review #985

When: May 2005

Fontana del Papa is a wonderful family run cooking school & B&B. Set amidst an olive grove & organic garden only an hour's drive to Fiumicino airport in Rome.

Within an easy hour drive of Fiumicino airport in Rome, Fontana del Papa is a tastefully restored farmhouse located in the scenic countryside outside of the small town of Tolfa. Assuntina and Claudio are very warm and hospitable hosts.

There are three room rentals as well as a junior suite where my husband & I stayed. The junior suite had a lovely sitting room with a very spacious adjoining bedroom complete with a romantic fireplace and very comfortable four poster bed. The view from the bedroom was beautiful. The bathroom was also very roomy and had a tiled shower built for two. Not only were the accommodations fantastic, the festive dinner and breakfast the following morning were both outstanding.

My husband & I stayed at Fontana del Papa the last night before our flight out of Rome the next day. We both agreed that our stay at the property was much too short. It was the highlight of our two week trip to central Italy. Our next trip to Fontana del Papa will have to include a few cooking lessons and cultural excursions to the area. To stay in the beautiful Tolfa countryside with such a warm & welcoming family gave us a real taste of Italian living - and for my husband & I was the best way to experience Italy. Assuntina has created a wonderful website for the property.

We found Fontana del Papa from a previous review on slowtrav.com. We are very happy to add our positive comments on such a wonderful property.


Reviewed by: joanvass from UK, review #965

When: April 2005

Delightful experiences living real Italian style with a charming family. Lovely 16th century house amid olive groves with stunning views. Great food and wine.

This 5 day break was a Christmas gift - I did not really know what to expect. I was met at the airport by Assuntina Antonacci. We drove through beautiful countryside away from Rome passing fields with cows, horses and lots of babies. The judas trees were in bloom - when we came in sight of the house I was very impressed. Set in a valley surrounded by olive trees (they make their own oil) I discovered that the website pictures do not do it justice.

Claudio and Assuntina have renovated the building with true comfort and it welcoming to enter. Bedrooms/sitting rooms are full of period features but modern comfort. The focus is on cooking, health, and wine - Etruscan style. Great kitchen with very up to date facilities but a rustic Italian feel. Amongst other things I learnt how to make tiramisu to die for, pizza (cooked in the oven on the outside wall of the house) and spent happy hours with Lucciana the cook. She didn't speak English and I have no Italian but we communicated very well through our love of food.

The food is local, seasonal and fitted to the rhythms of the countryside. Claudio taught me so much about wine. There were expeditions to the Etruscan tombs, museums, local markets, etc. but everything is at the wish of the guest - no formality and great tranquility. The family are excellent hosts and I can't wait to go back.

Shouldn't forget to mention the water - drawn from a spring and once reserved for the Pope - hence the name. Great walks, wild flowers and much more. I loved every minute of it.


Reviewed by: Steve J from IL, review #780

When: October 2004

Fontana del Papa is a beautifully restored 16th century farm house, nestled in an olive grove. It is run as a cooking school, as well as a B&B.

Never before have the final days of a European trip “wound down” so pleasantly. Usually, we find ourselves holed-up in a compromised setting which was chosen based on convenient access to an airport. Not this time! This time we got a location convenient to Rome’s airport, plus a wonderful and authentic experience.

Owners Assuntina and Claudio have completed a stunning restoration of a 16th century stone farmhouse, set within their olive tree groves in the rolling hills near Tolfa. Their attention to architectural detail is everywhere – fixtures, furnishings, and beautiful historically correct tile floors and ceilings. We were particularly enchanted by olive wood fires in the fireplace of our huge bedroom. “Atmosphere” does not get any better than this.

Although cooking classes are a big part of Fontana Del Papa’s offerings, we did not make arrangements for that during our short stay. We were, however, served a wonderful evening meal complete with wines and aperitifs recommended by Claudio, a trained sommelier. Breakfasts were also a treat, with high quality home made breads and ingredients. We happily purchased some of their freshly pressed olive oil to take home.

We spent 2 completely relaxing days and nights at Fontana Del Papa in preparation for out flight home from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. We both remarked that our stay there was the perfect cap to our lengthy Italian stay. The morning of our flight, we began an effortless 45 minutes drive down the A12 autoroute to the airport – approximately 30 km. It was the easiest access to an airport we have ever experienced. ... Fontana del Papa gets a molto star rating from us.

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

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