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.