Locanda Palazzone

near Orvieto, Umbria, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A medieval inn with minimalist, Scandi-chic interiors and divine views, set amidst green vineyards and rolling hills
The once dilapidated now beautifully restored palazzone has reopened its doors to travellers - not to the pilgrims of old but to 21st-century seekers of tranquillity and pastoral beauty. It's a sybaritic set up, a family-run winery and rural hotel; you will eat, drink and dream well. Owners Lodovico and Patrizia are extremely welcoming, and generous with their time. And while the building's austere 14th-century beauty remains, modernity takes a bow with elegant interiors and a beautiful pool.

Imagine a dramatic church-like space, its walls spanned by 4 stone arches, its floor topped by slabs of stone. At one end is a black stair, in the centre a state-of-the-art glass and metal lift; wicker lampshades hang above the dining table, a vast sofa faces the fireplace... a calm, homely room that sets the tone for the 7 suites upstairs. Nothing is busy or overdone. To cap it all, the setting - surrounded by chestnut woods and vine-braided hills and just 15 minutes from Orvieto - is one of incomparable beauty. We love it.


  • Extremely peaceful - as you lie by the pool, all you hear is birdsong
  • Your friendly, informative hosts; you are welcomed into their home, and service is excellent
  • Within a stone's throw of Orvieto, one of Umbria's most beautiful and historic hilltowns
  • Superb food; the creative chef Masa fuses local ingredients and international inspiration
  • Winery producing Palazzone - one of Umbria's best labels; enjoy tastings with your dinner


  • Sound carries between rooms, particularly when people walk up and down their stairs
  • Recent feedback implies the Family Apartment isn't in keeping with the standard of other suites (more basic, at back of building with no real view)
  • Dinner is quite expensive - but it was the best meal we had in our 10-day tour of Tuscany
  • If you don't want dinner in, you'll need to drive 10 minutes to the nearest small town or take a rather overpriced taxi
  • Gets booked up way in advance for summer; come in autumn when rates are lower, the countryside beautiful and the weather still fine

Best time to go

Summer in Umbria is busy, but this is a haven from the crowds and heat, thanks to the altitude and the pool. If you are planning to do some sightseeing then May-June or September-October will have fewer tourists yet reliably good weather. There's a great jazz festival in Orvieto around the New Year.

Our top tips

Be sure to take a pile of good books and sunscreens for lazing by the pool, comfortable shoes for getting around, a torch (the grounds are not lit at night), and a good appetite and a wine-taster's palate!

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast + dinner (excluding Sundays; lunch on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Suite


The most striking thing about the suites is their loftiness, and the tall windows that pull in the views. The combination of history and modernity is striking too, particularly in the main suite, Cardinale. Long cream curtains nudge creamy tufa stone, wide wooden steps spiral up to the loft, high mullioned windows frame the hills. All the rooms bar one - the first-floor Suite - are split level, with the bed upstairs. The Family Suite, also on the first floor, has a kingsize bed on the lower lever and twin beds (can be made into one king) plus bathroom on the upper level and all rooms (bathroom included) have good views.

We stayed in a Junior Suite and loved the Juliet balcony, fantastic views, and the remnants of the old stone archway within the room.

Comfy beds vary from ultra plain and encased in white to a chic pale grey four-poster. But it's not all minimalism, there are decorative touches too - an antique painted wardrobe, a rococo-esque armchair, a splash of pink or red. Pretty timbered ceilings and new-oak floors complete the elegant picture.

Bathrooms have fashionably circular or square white basins, tiny mosaics, Bulari soaps, limestone showers (no baths), and white waffle towels bundled with raffia and lavender. The attention to detail is reassuringly, exquisitely Italian.

Note the Family Apartment is of simpler design and on the ground floor with 2 levels: on the ground level there is a small living room which also a sofabed (5th possible guest) and handicapped-access bathroom. There is a wooden staircase to the upper level, which offers a king size room and a twin room. There are windows in all the bedrooms (not the bathroom) and lots of light, but no particular view.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Honesty bar
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Tv
  • WiFi


Food plays a big part here. The talented Japanese chef Masa uses local ingredients to create imaginative fusion food, and his dishes are beautifully presented. The menu changes daily, but always consists of 5 courses, which you wash down with the Locanda's own, delicious wines.

Our dinner was exceptional; the best meal we had during our 10-day tour of Tuscany and Umbria, which is quite an accolade. It began with courgette flowers, filled with ricotta cheese and lightly fried in batter - beautiful to look at, light and flavoursome. Next up came a carpaccio of salmon with a parmesan crisp, which was wonderfully fresh. The homemade spaghetti with squid ink and calamari was divine; the pork served 3 ways was slightly too adventurous for my palate, but my husband loved it. We finished with seasonal fruits with gelatinous wine and almond ice cream - a fitting conclusion to an excellent meal.

Wine-wise, we sampled the Palazzone Compo del Guardino - an easy white made of 5 local grapes; the Piviere Sangiovese 2006 - a gorgeous, deep smoky red; and the Muffa Nobilis pudding wine - a lovely, syrup-y, moreish treat. You can buy bottles to take home at reception (we did).

On balmy evenings, dinners are served on the outdoor terrace - a beautiful space framed by white rosebeds, with views of Orvieto in the distance, and the sun setting as you sit down. Lodovico and Patrizia formally serve, advise, and chat to guests in their easy hospitable manner. Should it be too cold, meals are served in a low-lit dining room (The Enoteca), where tables are elegantly set with white linen runners, a small posy of flowers, and sparkling silver cutlery.

Dinners are available every day except Sunday, thus giving you the opportunity to eat out in lovely Orvieto. Ask Lodovico for his recommendations. Lunches are by request only.

Breakfast is also a joy, out among the lavender, myrtle and white roses. There's a wonderful Italian spread of homemade pastries, a decadent cherry jam tart, toasted ciabatta served with local ricotta, and fresh fruit salad. Jams are homemade - fig, wild plum, orange and lemon - and as you'd expect, the coffee is jolly good.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Follow the ancient paths that slice through the hills around, and the hotel's 'Path through the Woods', a lovely 30-minute walk to an old borgo (fortified hamlet)
  • Orvieto sits stop a vast tufa outcrop - a spectacular setting. Approach via funicular railway (the city has Slow status: no parking within its walls), then head for the beautiful Duomo. Admire its striped facade then head inside to the Chapel of San Brizio and Luca Signorelli's magnificent frescoes of The Last Judgment
  • Civita di Bagnoregio, a precariously balanced tiny hilltown is a 25-minute drive away. Only accessible via a footbridge over an abyss, its setting is fairytale-esque. Arrive late afternoon to explore its tumbledown buildings, then walk back across the footbridge and watch the sun set behind the town
  • The walled hilltown of Todi is less well-known but has an irresistible charm
  • Just over the border in Lazio is Bolsena, a lakeside town worth a visit for its Etruscan ruins and stunning rampart views - and you can catch a boat to the island in the middle of the lake
  • Franciscan monks - and East European pilgrims - still wander the streets of Assisi, a medieval town of narrow lanes, hidden courtyards and painted churches. Best visited after the crowds have gone home
  • Perugia, capital of Umbria, is a place of some style, and packed with Renaissance art (1 hour away). There's also a jazz festival in summer
  • Try the local wines (Umbria’s full-bodied Sagrantino reds, or Orvieto’s crisp whites) and the hotel's own whites... you may even help out at harvesting time
  • Get sporty with horse riding and tennis close by
  • Cookery lessons for small groups can be arranged in Orvieto; enquire in advance

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Tennis
  • Wine tasting


Children of all ages are very welcome here, though bear in mind this is a tranquil place and they will be expected to be reasonably quiet around the pool.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

There's a Family Suite which has 1 double and 1 twin room, and a Family Apartment which also has 1 double and 1 twin room, as well as space for an extra bed and a baby cot. The Suite can fit a baby cot, the Junior Suites can fit an extra bed or baby cot, and the Cardinal Suite can fit a baby cot and an extra bed.


Babysitting is a useful extra, requested in advance.

Baby equipment:

Cots, small beds with side railings and extra single beds are all available.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Children's menus are provided at child-friendly times.

Families Should Know:

Most rooms are split over 2 floors and the steps between them can be quite steep.

Kid Friendly:

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