Where do Roman lovers slip off to for a few days of romance and truffles? To the same place they've been going for centuries, a spot about an hour's drive to the north. That would be Umbria, a Napa Valley-like region dotted by vineyards and old-world hill towns such as Assisi (birthplace of St. Francis), Orvieto (once an Etruscan acropolis), Perugia (a fave hangout of ancient popes, today famous for its chocolates) and Narni (home of the Romans' largest bridge).
Besides the scenery, couples from the Eternal City are drawn to Umbria by its dozens of lovely little inns. One, perched on a hillside just outside Narni, is one of the most exquisite small hotels in the whole country – a getaway so charming even its name has a romantic ring to it: Torre Palombara, the “Tower of Doves.”
(Dating back to the Renaissance, dove towers were built to get doves to bunk down there, billing and cooing. They were all the rage with Europe's silky set at the time.)
Palombara's seven guest rooms range from spacious doubles with beamed ceilings to a two-level suite in the original dove tower with its own fireplace and a terrace overlooking the garden (and where your wake-up call comes from a cooing dove). All of the rooms are furnished with centuries-old antiques along with flat-screen TVs and other modern amenities.
Imagine yourself and a loved one out on your room's terrace, looking down at a valley surrounded by a landscape right out of a classic Umbrian painting. (You know, the ones bursting with fields filled with sunflowers, acres of vineyards and off in the background the hilltop town of Narni with its towering castello.)
A stay at Palombara, says the hotel's owner/manager, “is a couple of days unwinding – leisurely breakfasts, strolls in the garden, lounging around the pool, admiring the view and maybe taking a 10-minute drive to Narni for lunch in one of its lively trattorias. The third morning you’re eager for a day of sightseeing – we love the territory with a passion so we’ll be happy to direct you to castles and dungeons, private cashmere workshops (yes, the items are for sale at exceptional prices) and wineries where you can sample Umbria’s excellent but relatively unsung wines (supplies are limited so we tend to hog them all to ourselves).”
A special “Viaggio di Nozze” package – aimed at honeymooners (or perhaps honeymooners-in-spirit) from around the world – offers a three-night stay for two at the Palombara for US$950, or US$1,150 for three nights in the two-level suite with the doves. Included in the package are: a private candlelit dinner for two featuring Umbrian delicacies (the region is known for its truffles), breakfasts and a guided tour of the region in a classic motorcar. Also included are lots of romantic touches such as flowers and Prosecco wine on your arrival, plus a discount on additional nights at the hotel.
More info: Visit the hotel's website.