We just came back from a flawless stay at Locanda Palazzone, an elegant yet friendly historic residence just a few minutes drive from Orvieto’s old town. The building itself dates to the 1200s; the structure was probably built as a hospitalis, or hostel for travelers and pilgrims on their way south to Rome. The rough tufa stone walls are tempered by elegant architectural details such as mullioned windows, pointed arches, and stone-columned balconies, making the Palazzone stand out from the more common rustic stone country accommodations which dot the Umbrian countryside.
The hotel doesn’t offer any services specifically geared towards kids or families, but the ample outdoor space, pool, and proximity to delightful Orvieto make this a great choice for school-aged kids and teens. Here’s my review of the highlights:
I have to admit that I had a brief moment of doubt while driving to Locanda Palazzone in the countryside northwest of Orvieto, in Italy’s central region of Umbria With my sons, 9 and 12-years-old, bundled in the backseat with a supply of audiobooks and pan caciato (a savory cheese bread studded with walnuts and spiced with ground pepper that is found in bakeries across Umbria in the autumn), we had exited the highway at the hilltown of Todi and spent the next half hour gasping at the gorgeous views. The two lane country road between Todi and Orvieto winds its way along the shoreline of Lake Corbara, and our late afternoon arrival was perfectly timed to catch a spectacular sunset over the water and the steep cliffs and wooded hills on the opposite shore.
After this photogenic prelude, I was a bit deflated to find myself driving through a largely unremarkable residential area in the valley beneath the historic center of Orvieto, perched dramatically on the cliff above. As we passed a number of anonymous shopping centers and modern apartment blocks, I had to fight the urge to turn the car around and head back toward the magical sunset in the distance.
I’m glad I didn’t. After just a few minutes, we were in the midst of rolling, vineyard-covered hills (the vines Instagram-ready red and yellow rows in this late fall weekend) and climbing a well-maintained gravel road toward an imposing tufa stone building dominating the hilltop. We parked our car and headed across the lush lawn only to gasp again: from this vantage point, we had a 360° panoramic vista over the rolling countryside and, most dramatically, the town of Orvieto with its famous Duomo jutting above the skyline of charmingly jumbled rooftops.
As it turns out, the proximity to two major highways (thus the modern suburb) make it an easy base to visit not only the nearby sights (Orvieto, Bagnoregio, the Bomarzo park, and Lake Bolsena), but much of southern Umbria and nearby Tuscany. In Orvieto, My kids enjoyed the Orvieto Underground tour, which explores the warren of caves dug into the rock beneath the town over the past thousand years, and the gruesomely boy-pleasing frescoes in Duomo’s San Brizio Chapel.
The clean, contemporary lines of the interior design and the neutral colors and fabrics used in the rooms and suites is a welcome departure from the tassles and damask of many luxury hotels and the country rustic of rural estates. Hardwood floors, minimalist furnishings, and ultra-modern bathrooms set off the historical building nicely, and your eyes are free from distractions and instead concentrate on the fantastic views from every window.
We stayed in the two-bedroom Family Suite; the hotel offers a number of different suite arrangements sleeping from three to five guests. All but one are situated on two separate levels (ours had the living room and master bedroom downstairs and the double bedroom and bathroom upstairs), so the accommodation is more suited to families with older children who can manage stairs. The outdoor pool (which was closed for the season when we visited) is unfenced, another reason that families with toddlers may think twice before booking a stay.
My older kids appreciated the room to spread out, both indoors and outside. The suites are spacious and they were able to spend some precious time apart after a long drive sharing the backseat. The building is surrounded by a beautiful open lawn which blends into the surrounding fields and vineyards, so they both spent a lot of time running off steam outside and setting off to explore further afield, and the main hall features a blazing fireplace and cozy couches where we relaxed and planned out our day.
Again, Locanda Palazzone doesn’t offer any specific activities for kids or families, but the pool — with changing rooms, a shower, and bathroom — is conveniently near the guest rooms, and the building is surrounded by an extensive and well-tended lawn and garden, both of which are great for older children. There are also a number of quiet, country roads for some easy and safe traipsing through the hills.
Locanda Palazzone offers a formal dinner for their guests (if booked at least a day in advance), though we opted instead to head into Orvieto for meals, which is full of excellent informal restaurants and pizzerias which offer more choice of a menu for a variety of eaters, picky and non.
A continental buffet breakfast is served in the downstairs dining room, which included crowd-pleasers like cereal, yogurt, and toast and a couple of delicious surprises (lemon curd over a cookie crust, a variety of muffins and pastries). The staff was friendly and polite, as was the resident Maltese.
Ciao Bambino runs a family-focused travel agency and can help book accommodations, as well as our favorite activities in Italy like kid-friendly cooking classes and art lessons. Request assistance on the CB! Family Vacation Advisors information page.
Editorial Note: Locanda Palazzone offered Ciao Bambino complimentary lodging to review the property. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos provided by Rebecca Winke.
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