Torre di Moravola

Montone, Umbria, Italy Book from

A remote and magical medieval watchtower with 360º views over ancient hills, restored with super-sleek 21st-century design
The project of architect Christopher Chong and his designer wife Seonaid Mackenzie, Moravola is the result of 9 years of hard slog and an extraordinary shared vision. The bones of this 10th-century Umbrian watchtower - built to protect the hill town of Montone and once inhabited by knights - have been carefully restored to their former glory, while inside the space has been transformed.

Concrete, glass and travertine stone dominate in 7 bedrooms, their monastic simplicity and sleek, architectural details complementing the medieval vibe. Overlooking the Carpini valley where St Francis of Assisi roamed, it’s hard not to slip into hyperbole about the views. Wizened olive trees grow on vertiginous hillsides, thick forests that once hid bandits now thrum with birds and wild boar... indeed the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a shepherdess here. Moravola is a perfect retreat for starry-eyed couples or large groups of friends who can make as much noise as they like. Christopher and Seonaid produce delicious local food and have a relaxed, house-party approach to hosting guests.


  • Peace, beauty and history steeped in every inch of wild, green, mountainous Umbria, still untouched by the Chiantishire tribes
  • Moravola is its owners: Seonaid and Christopher are energetic hosts for whom nothing is too much trouble; I got married here, and it all went beautifully
  • A seamless blend of ancient and modern: a cantilevered glass Juliet balcony, landscaped terraces, sleek pavilions, a stone fire pool
  • The main tower suite with its mezzanine walkway and private terrace
  • The spectacular views and sunsets; a sense of being removed from reality


  • If you’re not a fan of fuss-free design or minimalism, this isn’t for you
  • Service is friendly to a fault but slightly haphazard - there are no swarms of staff or room service
  • Moravola is isolated (a plus in itself but you’ll need a car), and hard to find. The hilltop road leading there is either exhilarating or hair-raising depending on your disposition!

Best time to go

We visited in December, May and August. All seasons have their charms: winter at Moravola means snowy hikes and roaring fires, but spring and summer are best - sunny but not too hot, though avoid August if you want to sightsee. Montone hosts several festivals. Visit in May for the Festa della Forgiatura, or blacksmith’s festival, in July for the film festival, founded by ex-Monty Python Terry Gilliam, and in August for the Donazione della Santa Spina, Montone’s medieval festival. October is a good time for mushrooms, truffles and wild boar hunting. If you're here for Christmas, head to Città di Castello on Christmas Eve where a group of canoeists, each dressed as Father Christmas, paddle down the river, under a bridge decoarted with a crib, and then get out and distribute small presents to the children.

Our top tips

A week here is ideal. Moravola is tricky to find and its charms should be savoured slowly.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7 rooms + suites
  • Restaurant (open daily)
  • Under 2s and over 14s welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym


The 7 rooms and suites are each unique but share features - grey Pietra Serena stone floors, concealed lighting, kingsize beds elevated on wooden platforms, a smattering of antiques, white armchairs and neutral soft furnishings. Thick stone walls ensure rooms are cool without the need for noisy air conditioning.

Bathrooms are ultra-modern with sunken stone bathtubs, marmorino plaster walls, glass screened power showers and fluffy robes; decadent stuff.

Designed as mini towers, the West, East, North and South Tower Suites have downstairs bathrooms and bedrooms reached via steel floating staircases. We loved the East Tower Suite with its blue cushions and brown silk eiderdown, small writing desk and flower-framed balcony. The South Tower Suite is very big, with a downstairs seating area and space enough for families upstairs.

The smallest room is the West Room, on the ground floor. Glass doors open onto a small private terrace, with steps up to the fire pool area, and a compact but chic bathroom features a marble pane in place of a window to let in light. The other one-level room is the West Suite, on the first floor; L-Shaped with a terracotta plastered bathroom.

The Tower Suite is at the very top of Moravola’s central glass staircase and occupies the whole upper tower. Entered via low wood doors, a modular sofa and fluffy white rug sit in front of an original fireplace, while several feet above your head, a metal balustrade runs around the tower. Vertigo sufferers should avoid the climb to look through the archers’ windows. A small bedroom leads off the main living area, and through a skylight above the bed we watched shooting stars at night, and in the morning, swifts scuttling across the glass. There's a vast dressing room under the eaves with its own terrace, and the bathroom has a huge stone tub, rain shower and medieval-style trapdoor-covered loo!

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Moravola follows the Slow Food principle and ingredients are sourced locally; food is simple but delicious. Breakfast is included and lunch and dinner is by request. If you’re taking over the tower, meals can be worked out in advance.

Breakfast (included) consists of breads, cakes and pastries, prosciutto and cheese, fresh fruit, muesli and homemade jams, as well as a number of cooked options; it's taken on the East Terrace. Lunch, eaten beneath the viewing pavilion by the herb garden, is light antipasti or a bowl of pasta - we enjoyed a traditional pasta with wild boar sauce the day before our wedding (supposedly providing the groom with ‘strength’!)

Dinner could be roasted suckling pork (porchetta) seasoned with herbs from the garden or delicious lasagne. There's an honesty bar by the pool and you can also order drinks from the staff.

If you want to eat out, the delicious and reasonably priced Erba Luna restaurant in neighbouring Montone is a picturesque spot; its terrace hugs the town walls. If you don't have a car, the owners will ferry you to and from if they're free.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Swim in the dark-tiled, 25m infinity pool or lie in the sun and read
  • Take a yoga session under the stone pavilion at the end of the pool or have a holistic massage in the spa, treatments are inspired by Roman techniques
  • Have a sundowner in the sunken seating area by the fire pool - swallows score the twilight, flames dance across the surface of the dark pool and the valley falls away beneath you
  • The medieval cathedral of Assisi (which holds the remains of St Francis), and the hill towns of Perugia, Citta de Castello and Gubbio are easy day trips
  • Explore Montone. The local walled hilltop town with winding, vertiginous cobbled streets has existed since 800AD
  • A nature reserve surrounds the tower - keep an eye out for wild boar and deer, hoopoe, golden oriole and falcons, and listen for owls and nightingales
  • Take a bird’s eye view of the area with a microlight flights, or hike, bicycle and horse ride through the surrounding woods and valleys; all can be arranged by Seonaid and Christopher
  • Moravola can also arrange for guests to go foraging for wild mushroom and porcini, with picnics in the woods and followed by cooking lessons in the evening. Or guests can collect olives from the groves to take to the stone ground mills followed by olive-oil tasting in the evening
  • Accompany Seonaid to the small Madonna del Confini church near Moravola and see the clearing above the church where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to a shepherdess
  • Your visit could coincide with one of the many cultural festivals in the area: Medieval Music, Opera Orvieto, Umbria International Jazz Festival (July/August), Umbria Film Festival (first week of July in Montone itself when the tiny medieval square is transformed into an open-air cinema)
  • Art courses can be arranged on demand with visiting artists who lead the classes; groups can be taken to medieval villages in the mornings, or can paint on the terraces at Moravola if they prefer

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga


To preserve the peace for other guests, kids between 2 and 14 years are not accepted unless the whole property is booked. Extra beds, baby cots and baby monitors are all available for babies and older children, however.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

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