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La Preghiera, Calzolaro 

Via del Refari
Italy 06018
Tel: 39 075 930 2428
view web site ›'s insider take:

Not so much a hotel as a house that's been thrown open to paying guests, La Preghiera is the home of dynamic English property developer John Tunstill and his Uruguayan wife, Liliana. The Tunstills have been buying and selling houses in Umbria since 1983, so it's no surprise that their own place is a magnificently restored monastic estate dating from the 12th century, set amid tidily landscaped gardens; it even has its own private chapel. Perhaps because it's essentially a residence, no corners have been cut: The antique furniture (check out the restored monks' cupboards in the upstairs hall), textiles, and bathroom fittings are top quality, and each of the 11 rooms (nine in the main house, two in a small villa just across the garden) has its own character. There's a billiard room, a low-chlorine swimming pool, and a well-equipped kitchen, where cooking classes are held. But the real surprise is downstairs: a whole museum dedicated to John's other passion, toy soldiers. La Preghiera lies just outside the village of Calzolaro, northwest of Umbertide in the Upper Tiber valley.

Closed late December to early January.

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