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L'Orto degli Angeli sul NYTimes

The Moment
June 30th, 2008 10:21 AM

Out and About / Umbria
By NATHAN LUMP

I'm just back from two weeks in Italy - I know, poor me! - on a circuit that began in Rome (the city's got a great energy right now), continued to Le Marche (gorgeous and wonderfully untouristed) and ended in Tuscany (always pretty, if busy).
The real discovery of my trip, however, was a hotel in the lovely little Umbrian town of Bevagna called L'Orto Degli Angeli. After a decade of test-driving places to stay, I'm not easily impressed, but I can say that L'Orto now ranks as one of my favorite hotels anywhere in the world.
Owned by Francesco Antonini dei Conti Angeli Nieri Mongalli (how's that for a name?) and his wife, Tiziana, the property consists of two palazzi surrounding a beautiful courtyard garden fragrant with jasmine and roses.
What's special about this place, compared to others of its kind in Italy and across Europe, is how deftly it combines a very high level of charm and style with the kind of comfort and service one associates with hotels that are much more famous and expensive (L'Orto's rates start at just 200 euros).
The nine superbly decorated rooms in the 18th-century Palazzo Andreozzi have original frescoes and first-rate antiques; the five in the Palazzo Alberti are, on the whole, larger and have a more casual, rustic feel, with working fireplaces. They're all deeply cosseting and most have pretty spectacular views over the rooftops of Bevagna out to the Umbrian hills. There's a great breakfast (don't miss the jam tart made daily by the eighty something cook who's been working for the family for decades) and the new, highly atmospheric, restaurant housed in the remains of a Roman theater is superb - I'm still dreaming of the luscious chicken with ricotta and peas (a family recipe from the first half of the century). And the hospitality of your hosts and the staff is so warm and genuine you really do believe them when they tell you should think of the hotel as "your home in Umbria." (Bevagna, besides having some attractions of its own - Roman baths, a couple of nice churches - also makes a good base for exploring the region.) The experience served as a reminder that, no matter how jaded I get, there are still real hotel gems out there to discover and, often, the most satisfying places are not the ones that are hot and new. Anyhow, it's rare for me to rave about a hotel, but this one deserves it.

 

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