Villa Metato, Umbria, Italy: 8/10
This contemporary hideaway on the Tuscan border is popular with honeymooners and design lovers in-the-know. Under the expert care of fashion director Margherita, guests enjoy sumptuous breakfasts beside the saltwater pool, sip Metato rosé next to the vines and explore the countryside by bicycle.
Metato sits at the end of a steep white track in the village of Morra, which is home to the church of San Crescentino and its impressive cycle of frescoes by renaissance painter Luca Signorelli. While the nearest airport is Perugia (32 miles/53km away), UK airports are better served from Rome (155 miles/250km) and Pisa (125 miles/200km). Villa Metato is less than a mile (1km) from the Tuscan border, with the towns of Arezzo and Cortona both under an hour’s drive away. Umbria’s Lago di Trasimeno, and the medieval towns of Montone, Gubbio and Perugia are also easily accessible by car.
Occupying a meticulously renovated stone outhouse, the guest villa is a vaulted, open-plan space that has been furnished with iconic mid-century pieces (from the likes of Eames, Conran and G-Plan), and a quirky selection of artwork including vintage anatomical prints and posters of pop culture and political icons. The private pool and terrace is flanked by grapevines and fruit trees with views of the surrounding hills beyond.
Service & facilities: 8/10
Anglo-Italian owners Nick and Margherita live in the farmhouse next door, and are on hand for any local area recommendations, restaurant reservations and assistance. Margherita is an exceptionally warm host who has the rare knack of making guests feel like longtime friends, and will happily call on her local contacts to arrange anything from a yoga class, massage or manicure at the villa, to a cooking class, horse riding expedition, round of golf or wine tasting afternoon nearby.
The saltwater swimming pool is reserved for the private use of villa guests, and has a fittingly designer look with its inky black interior. There’s an outdoor shower under the fig trees to the rear, a table tennis table and a bocce (Italian boules) court. The villa also has fast Wi-Fi, Sky TV and iPod speakers.
The owners resisted turning the large space into multiple guest rooms, instead offering just one large one-bedroom apartment across two levels with a private pool, terrace and garden. The bedroom and living room are on the top floor, with the bathroom, kitchen and dining area at the bottom of a narrow spiral staircase. The bathroom is perhaps not hotel standard (there’s a power shower, no bath) but it does have a washing machine which is handy for longer stays. The sixties theme is continued in the kitchen with a Formica table, vintage range cooker and retro Smeg refrigerator. There’s no minibar, “but I bring the guests tomatoes from the garden if they love to cook” says Margherita; and a bottle of wine from the Metato’s micro vineyard is given to each guest to enjoy during their stay.
Food & drink: 8/10
It’s self catering aside from breakfast, which Margherita serves by the pool each morning. It’s a simple but delicious spread of homemade jams, home-baked bread, cereals, fresh fruit and freshly pressed juice.
The guest kitchen is fully equipped, and there’s a barbecue on the terrace. Nearby Morra has an excellent butcher and delicatessen, and there’s a fruit and vegetable market twice a week (Thursdays and Saturdays) in Città di Castello, 20 minutes away by car. For those who do not wish to cook, there’s a no-fuss trattoria five minutes down the road, and more upmarket options in the towns of Città di Castello and Montone. A private chef is also available on request.
Value for money: 8/10
The rack rate is €250 (£225) in high season (1 June – 15 September), between €200-€220 (£175-£195) in low season (Easter – 31 May; 15 September – 31 October) and closed during low season (1 November – Easter). The price includes breakfast, wi-fi, a bottle of Metato wine and private use of the pool which, although pricey, represents fair value for money overall.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Not really. There’s a steep, narrow spiral staircase that connects the bedroom and bathroom, and although you can also go outside and around to the lower entrance, this might not be practical for early morning visits to the loo.
Yes; children under 16 are welcome, and a cot or extra bed can be provided for €10 per day. Again, the spiral staircase may not be suitable for very young children.
Villa Metato, Morra, Citta di Castello (PG), Umbria, 06010, Italy (+39 075 8574373; villametato.com)