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Villa Pia - Italy

Amanda Clow and her 3 yr old enjoy rest, relaxation and perfect Umbrian hospitality at the unique Villa Pia.

After a 2 hour drive from Bologna Airport we finally found Villa Pia. Having found Lippiano, a small hilltop village, we turned left at the fountain, crept around the castle walls to the imposing entrance, two gate-posts hiding the name Villa Pia. Henry, our three year old, had been testing our patience over the last few miles but as we turned down the drive our stress levels melted away. Not only was the Villa quite beautiful, but there were loads of toys spread over the huge courtyard for Henry to play with. He just couldn't wait to get out of the car and made a mad dash to the Wendy house, then the climbing frame and then the fire engine, which became his favourite toy!

Having found Lippiano, a small hilltop village, we turned left at the fountain, crept around the castle walls to the imposing entrance, two gate-posts hiding the name Villa Pia.

Whilst Henry played we were shown to our room by Morag. Villa Pia is as beautiful inside as it is from the outside, with high ceilings, inlaid stone floors and wonderful views of the Umbrian countryside. Morag and Kevin own Villa Pia and they give something of themselves which combines to makes it a very special place. Our large adjoining rooms were on the first floor with panoramic views of the rolling hills and the courtyard. Henry's room had 2 twin beds and a cot while we had a huge double bed – which was a good job as Henry still comes in to it during the night! Our shower room was absolutely immaculate as were the bed rooms. Fresh vases of lilies seemed to be everywhere. Whilst we unpacked we could keep an eye on Henry who was still playing outside. By now some other toddlers, and their parents, had appeared so he was quickly making new friends.

Having arrived late afternoon we had missed lunch but this wasn't a problem. Morag showed us the kitchen which is open 24 hours a day. On the side were 3 enormous fruit bowls overflowing with local produce, the fridge contained beer, wine (Villa Pia produce their own organic wine), juice, milk, cheese and yogurt, the table was laid with freshly baked bread and cake, and the River Café coffee machine provided the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted. We were quite simply told to help ourselves.

As the weather was warm – despite the fact it was October – we decided to go for a swim in the heated pool. There are actually two pools and a small sandpit. The children's pool is heated but the larger pool isn't. There is a bag full of pool toys, arm bands and rubber rings so if you've forgotten it isn't a problem. The pools are set away from the main villa just by the vineyard with spectacular views of the countryside.

After our swim we headed back to the main house for the children's tea at 6pm. The children eat separately from the parents in the evening. There was always a choice so everyone was always kept happy. This was the first time that we'd met everyone and the children's ages ranged from 6 months to 5 years. And they were all so good!

Not only was the Villa quite beautiful, but there were loads of toys spread over the huge courtyard for Henry to play with.
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By now it was dark but the courtyard was lit so Henry had the choice of playing outside or in the children's playroom in the main house. Many of the grown-ups were now winding down with a glass of wine or beer, however, the kitchen was also home to an extensive range of other drinks, so every palate was kept happy.

Grown ups eat at 8pm and miraculously all the children were in bed – honestly, there is something about this place, but at 8pm most of the parents are in the dining room tucking into the first course of the four course evening meal. The dining room is a converted barn with a very very long table set down the middle. The food was delicious and it was a pleasure to sit a meet new people. How often do you go on holiday with little ones and actually never speak to anyone else because once they're in bed, you can't go out! Many families bought their baby alarms which work perfectly well, but there always seemed to be a set of eyes or ears around to help. Henry was bought down in the middle of dinner one evening by the cook. He'd wondered down to investigate and she bought him to us. He fell asleep at the table and was then carried back to bed. Not a problem.

There's plenty to do exploring the bamboo wood, running through the box maze or even walking up into the town square and feeding the goldfish in the fountain.

After dinner people wander off the different bits of the house, the kitchen – the wood burning fire is now lit, music room or grown ups sitting room. We sat outside bundled up in jumpers and just enjoyed a nightcap looking at the stars. We were in heaven.

Breakfast starts at 8am but if your little ones are up earlier it's not a problem, the kitchen is always open. More fabulous food.

We spent our days visiting nearby villages, Arrezzo, Cortona are all a short drive away. Henry even visited his first museum. We decided not to go any further because our visit was so short and we wanted to make the most of Villa Pia. Other families didn't leave the Villa at all. There's plenty to do exploring the bamboo wood, running through the box maze or even walking up into the town square and feeding the goldfish in the fountain.

If you decide to spend your day at the Villa, a buffet lunch is served at 1pm. You could quite easily eat yourself from one delicious meal to the next.

Morag and Kevin are such generous hosts, nothing is a problem. They join in the meals with you, as do their three children. Villa Pia felt safe, relaxed, luxurious and happy. We loved it and will be returning, soon I hope.

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