For the Dubini brothers it was a childhood dream to rescue from dereliction the 13thC palace that dominated their family vineyard. The Palazzone was originally built as a hostel for weary pilgrims on the ancient road to Rome, and Giovanni and Lodovico longed to return it to its primary function and former glory. Forty years of dreaming and 1,370 days of building work later, the Locanda Palazzone welcomed its first 21st century travellers in July 2005.
Sensibly, the brothers have not meddled with the palace’s impressive volcanic rock exterior or striking mullioned windows, and have instead concentrated on converting the ruined insides into seven immaculate suites. Split-level rooms recall the minimalism of a Manhattan loft. Views, however, are far removed from the cramped NYC skyline: the green heart of Italy is laid out as far as the eye can see, with rolling hills smothered in vines and delightful meadows. You can soak up such views in the top-notch outdoor pool.
The most arresting factor of the Dubinis’ conversion is the quality of the materials. In the suites, fine linens and exquisite fabrics; ensuite bathrooms are tiled with the highest quality glass mosaic on the market. At the slightest provocation, a delighted Lodovico will reel off statistics from the project (100 pillowcases sewn; 160 metres of oak parquet flooring laid, and the roof is made up of 4512 new and 3456 reclaimed tiles). The palace garden provides 90 per cent of supper, and the (excellent) wine is from the family’s Palazzone label. The only possible quibble, for some a plus, is that the Locanda is miles from anywhere. A 90km drive from the nearest airport (Perugia), you have to hire a car.