Our Head of Bookings Kate, her dad and her two boys, aged 2 and 5, spent the October half-term break at a family haven in stunning Umbria…
What could be a more enticing way to spend half-term than at a super family-friendly getaway in Italy? Villa Pia doesn’t just cater for families, it whole-heartedly embraces them. AND it offers help-yourself wine for parents – a big plus in my book! It’s just a 2-hour drive from Bologna airport (Pisa, Florence and Rome would all be do-able, too), and only an hour from Perugia, Siena and Arezzo if you can tear yourself away for some sightseeing.
The hotel has a carefree, communal vibe. The rooms are spacious and simply furnished, with plenty of storage space and room to unpack, while remaining comfortable for a family of 4 or 5 (unusual in most hotels). A huge book in each room gives you the lowdown on what to expect, but it’s all very informal and you can help yourself to snacks and drinks at any time.
All the families we met were really enthusiastic about Villa Pia and many had booked their stay following recommendations from friends and family. Their reasons for loving it were the great value for money and the incredible child-friendliness. Oh, and the food! Three hearty, homemade meals are served every day except Thursdays. Lunch is a huge spread of mostly vegetable dishes, and there’s a kids’ tea of pasta, pizzas and veggies at 6pm. The adults then have a communal sit-down dinner after the kids are in bed. You won’t go hungry.
Kids rule here. There is a toy-filled playroom, a soft play room (which my sons loved!), a courtyard full of trikes, scooters and Wendy houses, and a games room for older kids with ping-pong and foosball.
Outside are 2 pools, including a small toddler-friendly one with loads of inflatables and toys. There’s bags of space for kids to run around and explore, and swings, trampolines and a tennis court are the icing on the cake. There are no TVs or DVDs and the WiFi is patchy, but there’s so much to keep little ones amused that they won’t miss screen time.
They offer kids’ art and cookery classes twice a week – my boys did the latter and absolutely loved it. The 2-hour class was great value at €15 each and they made chocolate muffins, biscuits, a jam tart and pizza for their tea. We didn’t have a chance to try the art classes but they got 5-star reviews from the other parents.
For grown-ups there are weekly cooking classes which involve making pastas, sauces and some amazing desserts. Again, these received high praise from other guests. There’s also a visiting beautician who offers reasonably priced treatments and massages 3 days a week.
Villa Pia has struck upon a winning formula and I can see why they have a lot of repeat guests who visit year on year. Book early to avoid disappointment. My kids gave it a huge thumbs up.