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Review 212: Villa Rosa, The Cottage


Review by Kathryn from Australia

Two apartments and cottage on a farm outside Montemelino, near Perugia, Umbria


Winter 2001, 2 weeks


My husband and I (Charlie and Kathryn, from Brisbane, Australia) have just completed our third trip to Italy and we are dedicated slow travellers usually staying 2 to 4 weeks in our chosen accomodation. I read an article in a magazine, written by an Australian married to an Italian and living in Umbria. It mentioned that she also had accomodation. I sent her an email and after a number of friendly replies we booked ourselves in for two weeks in the cottage that they were renovating.

We were not the first to stay there, but everything was still very new. The farmhouse in which Megan and Lino live and run a B&B is 300 years old, surrounded in olive trees, with views across the countryside to the city of Perugia, and the villages of Solomeo and Agello. The cottage is within sight of their house but is completely separate and private.

We always visit Italy in the middle of winter, owing to my husbands work commitments and this year we had the coldest winter ever. Snow in Toscana and Umbria and very cold. The cottage was perfect. We arrived late afternoon to be greeted by our hosts and were shown around the cottage. A cheerful fire was burning in the grate (firewood was delivered to our door daily) and the central heating was on (also air conditioned for the summer).

Much to our amazement this was not the only welcoming feature. The fridge had a supply of beer, wine, eggs, formaggio, pancetta, milk, coffee, yogurt and jam. The cupboard had cereal and pasta, tomatoes and biscuits and there was a big bowl of fruit on the table. Fresh herbs had been picked for the kitchen and baci chocolates beside the bed. There was enough loo paper, tissues, shampoo, soaps etc. to last for our two weeks. We were quite blown away as we have never encountered so much largesse.

The cottage itself was fantastic. It was two storey's high, with an open kitchen, lounge, and dining area with the fireplace. A large double bedroom was also downstairs with 2 single beds placed together to make a large double and there was a bathroom with a jacuzzi spa bath, bidet and toilet, and a hairdryer. A spiral staircase took you upstairs to a large room, mezzanine style that looked down into the lounge. This was set up with a single bed, drawers and a desk. The main double bedroom was next to this with a large comfortable bed, and large wardrobe with an ensuite (shower, bidet, toilet and another hairdryer.) All the rooms looked out over the countryside. In fact we spent New Years Eve sitting at our open bedroom window, taking photographs of the fireworks displays. It was an amazing view, if a trifle chilly at midnight.

A lot of glass has been used in the restoration, giving the cottage a very light, airy feel. There has been a lovely mix of old and new with no expense spared. Lovely old tiles on the floors, antique furniture and vases and a kitchen that gave me no excuse not to prepare a meal when we didn't want to go out. There is a large fridge with freezer, a lovely oven with gas hotplates and a dishwasher.

After settling ourselves in we were invited over to the farmhouse for welcoming drinks, where we were able to learn of all the things we needed to know in relation to shops and places to see, as well as learn a little about the history of where we were staying. In the cottage there were so many guide books, magazines, and maps we didn't manage to read them all, especially as there was a whole bookshelf of novels, including all the latest written about Italy. We cursed our heavy suitcases, laden with guide books and reading material, none of them were necessary. All in English, but I am sure if you want to read Italian, Lino would be happy to lend a book or two.

A computer was available in the farmhouse for anyone who needs to communicate with the outside world and their laundry is also available for the use of guests.

The area is peaceful, within walking distance of a caffe and restaurant. Shops were a five minute drive away and the city of Perugia only 15kms. away. The location of the cottage made trips to Lago Trasimeno a breeze, visits to small villages easy, while further afield e.g. Spoletto, Todi, and Orvietto was a simple matter of getting on the freeway (no tolls in Umbria). The main highway into Toscana was close by, making trips to Pienza, Montelcino etc., very manageable.

When you want to leave the car at home there is a lovely walk up the hill behind the house. This winds up through the woods and opens out to magnificent views of Lago Trasimeno and all the surrounding towns, Magione, Corciano, Monte del Lago and Castiligione del Lago to name a few. There are a number of wonderful old deserted farmhouses to explore settled among the olive groves. We spent many lovely hours exploring up there. We availed ourselves on our last evening of an offer usually for B&B guests, of dinner served in the home of our hosts. I am a vegetarian and Megan made a special effort for me. We had 3 courses including truffles (found by their own truffle dog called Vispa). The meal included aperitivi, vino and digestivi and the quality and abundance matched any expensive, high class restaurant we visited in Italy.

Last but not least, as we are private people, our hosts while always available to help or offer advise were very much in the background, only there if you needed them. We will most definitely be returning. Two weeks was not nearly enough.

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

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