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"A unique and fantastic place to stay, but not for everyone…"
We've been to Villa Pia twice. The first time for a fortnight in 2012 with children aged 1 and 3 and then again (for a week with another family) in July 2013 when the children were 2 and 4. We enjoyed it very much both times and would definitely go back and recommend it again. But our friends did not like it quite so much. This is a unique holiday, and not right for everyone.
I'm a part time working mum and I wanted a place that would help me enjoy spending time with my children myself (rather than just providing clubs for them) while also give me a break from cooking and cleaning (I hated the idea of 'extreme parenting' - doing all the usual chores far from home).
Villa Pia is the perfect mix: the facilities for children are good (2 pools, 2 trampolines, plenty of space to explore, playhouse, ride on toys, a playground with slide, tennis court, tyre swing, soft play area, sandpit and indoor playroom) and the cooking and cleaning are done to a very high standard and with such professionalism by the friendly but discreet team that you rarely notice how much work goes on around you to keep the place in order. The setting is gorgeous. There are plenty of places to explore locally, but also plenty to occupy the children close at hand.
But there are some unusual aspects: first the question of keys and security. Keys are supplied so you can secure your room (contrary to what some reviewers say here) but many guests don't and it didn't bother us because we relied on our monitor. Our friends were completely (and understandably) freaked out by this.
Then there is the standard of the accommodation. While clean and adequate, the rooms are rather spartan - there is no sense of luxury and the furniture is dated rather than vintage. These rooms are not built for comfort and do not provide a private haven. The bathrooms are small. The walls are pretty thin. There are no mod cons - no computer (although there is wifi in the main house) no tv, no radio etc.
Everything is geared towards the communal life - you eat at a single big table in the courtyard and there are plenty of 'public' spaces where you can find peace and quiet at different times of day. The plot is big enough that it never feels crowded.
Lunch is fantastic and the children's tea is a dream but dinner is rather over-catered. Three big courses every night, with no choice, was a bit much.
And then there is the company. I met more lawyers and accountants in a week at Villa Pia than I do in a week at work (as a lawyer). They were nice enough, but the second time we went we determined to go with friends (also lawyers) and spend more time with people we loved already.
So there you have it - fantastic place but know what you are getting yourself into.
One tiny niggle: I noticed that the toys (especially the playroom equipment and sandpit toys but also including the ride ons) were showing their age on our second trip and hadn't been refreshed. This is definitely something for the owners rather than the staff, who keep the facilities very clean and tidy. But toys do get broken, bits do get lost and they to be replaced by new ones and given a decent burial. I got the impression that a lot of the playroom toys had been hand-me-downs of the owners own children and that there hadn't been much investment since they had grown up.Read moreLess
4 people found this review helpful.
"Really wonderful holiday at Villa Pia…"
We went to Villa Pia for the first time this summer and I have to say we had a truly brilliant time. Having heard a lot about it and read the reviews I was intrigued and excited to go! Our 3year old loved it, particularly the kiddies swimming pool (it was great that there are two pools, adults and kiddies, as the bigger kids can play in the big pool and you know your little one is safe in the little one!)
The food was amazing! The buffets at lunch are so delicious, we often chose to go and eat ours on the terrace which is down nearer the pool! The dinners in the evening are great too, it's nice to know the kids are safe playing near by or in bed while you dine with the others guests. It was a really lovely mix of people the week we were there and we met a few people we'll definitely stay in touch with!
All in all I would highly recommend Villa Pia as a great place for a family holiday. My partner and I came home feeling as though we really had had a holiday and we are looking already at booking for next year!Read moreLess
3 people found this review helpful.
"Sorry but we really didn't love it :(…"
We were so excited about it, having stayed at Caserio Del Mirador and loved the communal dining, but this was really not our cup of tea. We were counting the days til we left and would have flown home early if we could have changed our flights which i have never ever felt about a holiday before.
it's just too intense. The same people are sat reading their kindle in the same seat in the kitchen every single day and you feel a bit self-conscious every time you go to make a cup of tea. Then you sit with those people for every single meal and after a couple of days you think "aargh, i feel like I'm on holiday with someone else's in laws, we need to escape!".
The rooms are also not even slightly soundproofed so if someone has a child who is up at 6am then you all are. We found this a nightmare, every morning, every naptime our son was woken up, we moved rooms but it didn't help. All those high celings and hard floors mean the noise really carries.
The food is great and plentiful and the setting is exceptionally beautiful. Our son really enjoyed the toys in the courtyard too. It obviously does work for a lot of people as there were so many people there at the same time as us on their 3rd or even 8th visit. We weren't the only people there who hated it though and unfortunately the good things didn't make up for the rest of it for us. Probably the least restful holiday every. Go to Caserio Del Mirador instead!Read moreLess
3 people found this review helpful.
"BEST PLACE EVER…"
BEST PLACE EVER ( Stay far FAR away if you don't . . . because everyone else does. There were pools (plural, one nice and shallow for the babes), slides, swings (one a tire swing), dogs, a cappuccino maker at the ready (it's the first thing they teach you to use), milk, yogurt and juice in the fridge, alcohol at the ready, tennis courts, fabulous Italian cooks, kids toys outside, kids toys inside, a huge courtyard in which to gather, sit, read . .Read moreLess
"Great holiday at Villa Pia…"
I went to Villa Pia with my two daughters (4 and 2) in July and we all had a great time. It was our first solo trip away following the death of my husband and I was a little daunted. I had been assured though that Villa Pia would be the perfect place to go as a lone parent and that advice proved to be spot on.
On arrival to the lovely hilltop village of Lippiano I asked directions and easily found my way to the main house (if you follow the road round past the castle walls, Villa Pia is through some big gates and down a steep hill on the right hand side. The welcome we received was lovely - Paola was great, very welcoming and informative. We stayed in the house in the village. At first I was a little bit concerned about this, but actually it proved to be perfect. In the evening a babysitter is in the house and looks after the children of the 4-5 families staying there while the parents go and have dinner. It was really nice to close the door and know the children were going to be well looked after and I could have nice, grown-up conversations without being interrupted!
The room we had was nice - it was actually 2 rooms with two single beds in one and a large double bed in another. There was a nice bathroom with great views out over the surrounding countryside. In the house we were in there was also a playroom with lots of toys and books and also a kitchen with a fridge full of milk, juice and water (as well as wine & beer) and everything you needed to assemble a basic breakfast. We generally ate breakfast here and then went down to the main house/pool and stayed there for the day.
Villa Pia is on a hillside, so there are lots of steps and quite steep hills to negotiate. It was actually no bad thing, as it meant I walked off much of the gorgeous food and wine I consumed! The food was wonderful - so many different dishes to choose from at lunchtimes, you couldn't help but go back for seconds. Children's tea again had many different dishes to satisfy even the fussiest child (I know, because I have one!). The nightly dinner for adults was just great. All the food, without exception, was delicious. There was a constant supply of Villa Pia's own organic wine and then after dinner an extensive range of liqueurs would come out.
The absolute best thing about Villa Pia was the people - staff and guests alike. It could have felt very daunting, walking down the steps from the village to the main house each evening by myself, but it wasn't. Everyone made me feel so welcome and it was such a pleasure to get to know some of the people. I guess this is where Villa Pia either works for you or it doesn't: group dinners like that are not for everyone. But for me, it was just the perfect way to finish each day.
I didn't actually use any babysitting other than in the evenings. I found my children a pleasure to be with - we were all relaxed and enjoyed each other's company, rather than having to worry about the usual rushing around at home. Being at Villa Pia was a huge part of this. I have never felt so relaxed on holiday. And now my children are already asking when can we go back!
Thank you Villa Pia.
PS MNHQ, Villa Pia is full board, not self-catering.Read moreLess
4 people found this review helpful.