An undeniably Umbrian affair, Rastrello embodies all that’s great about Italy’s green heartlands. Housed in a 16th-century mediaeval palazzo lovingly-restored by architects Pelizzari Studios, the hotel’s sun-baked stone fortress has all the buttery hues and sweeping hilltop views of a Perugino altarpiece (one of which you may just find in a neighbouring church). Named after the small hand rake used during the olive harvest, Rastrello celebrates the region’s rich agricultural history, inviting guests to join them with truffle hunting and olive picking as part of their rural roster of experiences. Fill up your glass in the elegantly appointed lounge where a rotation of local artists exhibit their work, or take a dip in Lake Trasimeno before retiring to the pruned Renaissance gardens for a spectacularly sylvan sundown.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 4pm.
Double rooms from £160.75 (€190), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include a hearty breakfast of freshly baked croissants with homemade nocciolo, marmalade or local honey, eggs, yoghurt, fruit, overnight oats, granola, freshly squeezed orange juice, and a choice of tea or coffee.
There’s a pillow menu for selective sleepers, and those susceptible to a sunset sweet tooth can get their fix with freshly baked night-time cookies straight from the kitchen.
The hotel is closed from 15 January to 15 March each year.
At the hotel
Furnished gardens, lounge area, electric car charging, hiking poles and wellness basket upon request. In rooms: TV, fridge, safe, Grown Alchemist bath amenities.
Our favourite rooms
Named after olive cultivars, each room takes its cue from the original features within it. In Vera, that’s an intimate stone-walled corridor welcoming you to your bedroom, where views of Lake Trasimeno are framed by high ceilings and exposed wooden beams. Leccino features dust blue and Titian red walls, expertly restored from the 16th century. Then there’s the palatial Family suite, where two interconnecting rooms lead to a sleek sitting area, crowned by a Brecian halo chandelier and scattered with backlit, sculpture-studded shelves. The private balcony of Rosciolo makes for a pretty special stay, too.
While there’s no spa, the hotel can arrange in-room treatments. Upon request, they’ll also throw in a wellness basket stocked with all weights, bands and a yoga mat.
Oversized sunnies and a classic costume for afternoon dips in the lake. Save some space in your suitcase for a bottle or two of the hotel’s extra virgin olive oil.
There is one fully-certified accessible room. However, all floors are accessible by elevator, and most have a walk-in shower.
Welcome, though not particularly catered for. Baby monitoring equipment is available upon request.
Sustainability is a lifestyle for the green-fingered Rastrello, whose earthly instincts cover everything from energy-saving key cards to bi-annual community clean-ups. Let’s start small; sheets are changed weekly, straws are made out of recycled sugar bagasse, bathroom products are refillable and as for plastic water bottles? Never heard of them. When it comes to waste, chickens take care of the wet stuff while dry scraps are composted. Coffee grounds and egg shells are dried, pulverised and worked into the soil to add calcium to the garden’s tomatoes. In the kitchen, most ingredients are sourced from the hotel’s organic garden, and what isn’t comes from neighbouring non-go and biodynamic farmers. On a larger scale, solar panels generate part of the energy used on-site and sustainable agricultural practices are followed across the hotel’s farm lands. What’s more, since their inception in 2020, Rastrello have planted over 500 new olive trees and renovated abandoned groves to ensure the land, and the communities who rely on it, may continue to thrive for years to come.
Take a seat on the terrace for views over the lake, or next to the arched kitchen windows for views of a different kind; the occasional pizza toss and a whole lot of slicing and dicing.
Casual but classy; take inspiration from Diane Lane’s flowing ‘fits in Under the Tuscan Sun.
Age-old materials and contemporary furnishings conspire to form a cosy cantina where the design is almost as delectable as the dishes. Sandwiched between two broad glass windows (one framing the lake, the other revealing the kitchen) the original stone features of this intimate space are offset by charcoal accents like statement walls and hanging lights that illuminate each table. Using the freshest ingredients plucked straight from the hotel’s gardens, chef duo Nicola and Gianluca have carved out a menu full of well-known international dishes amplified by that indefinable Umbrian oomph. The porchetta club sandwich – essentially an elevated BLT – makes a rather lavish lunch, but it’s Sunday’s spaghettata that's something to write home about: in order to preserve the culinary traditions of the town, each evening focuses on a different tried-and-tested pasta recipe shared by local elders.
From the corner of the sleek stone restaurant, Rastrello’s mixologist Francesco keeps spirits high (no pun intended) with a carefully curated catalogue of Perugian potions. Naturally, olives take centre stage, putting an Umbrian spin on the classic Martini and a Trasimeno twist on the Venetian spritz. Follow the tastes of the season with three rotating draft beers and a hyperlocal selection of wines – there’s even a Tuscan whiskey.
Breakfast is served in the lounge from 8am to 10:30pm. The kitchen opens from 5pm to 11pm each evening and 9am to 2pm for Sunday brunch.
Order breakfast in bed from 8am to 10:30am or supper in your slippers 5pm to 11pm.
Overlooking lake Trasimeno from the slopes of Mount Petravella, Rastrello belongs to the mediaeval village of Panicale, quietly ensconced within the green heartlands of Umbria.
Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi is a 50-minute drive from the hotel, though flights here are limited. International travellers may be better served by Rome Fiumicino or Florence, each a two-hour car journey from Panicale. Transfers cost between €112 to €336 depending on capacity and airport.
Chiusi-Chianciano is a 20-minute drive to Rastrello. The hotel can arrange transfers to and from the station from €56 for two persons and €70 for up to seven.
A car comes in handy in this neck of the woods, where getting lost down country roads is all part of the experience. There are plenty of villages to stumble across, and, should you tire of pastoral plains, Florence and Rome are each a 90-minute drive away. There are parking spaces for guests adjacent to the wall, and further parking underneath the town’s school. The hotel can provide plugs for electric vehicles and private drivers on hand, too.
Worth getting out of bed for
The pasta-centric peninsula is packed with charming villages, but few are as beautiful as Perugia’s Panicale, formally recognised as one of the borghi più belli d’Italia. The mediaeval hamlet, perched on the eastern slope of Mount Petrarvella, was founded by the Etruscans as far back as 7BC, and was later built upon in the same concentric clusters that exist today. Enveloped by olive groves, extra virgin olive oil is a pillar of local cuisine, and Rastrello makes its own eponymous produce from hyperlocal varieties including the dolce agogia, rosciola dell’Umbria and nero di Panicale. Book on to one of the hotel’s olive oil tastings, or better still, join in the harvest, where thousands of those bitter orbs are hand-prized and pressed each year. There’s truffle hunting, too, as well as cooking classes, wine tasting and cocktail workshops. In the summer months, Lake Trasimeno (the boot’s fourth largest, that is) makes a fine spot for an afternoon paddle. The hotel organises boat tours, and just a short drive north in Castiglione del Lago you’ll find well-equipped beaches to sprawl-out in the shadow of the town’s formidable Rocca del Leone castle. Culture vultures can pick and mix between an arty three-courser; for starters there’s the unassuming church of San Sebastiano, where you’ll find a 16th-century fresco by Umbrian master Perugino (the backdrop of which looks strikingly similar to Rastrello’s guest room vistas). Your main course is the hotel’s Umbrian art tour of Panicale, Perugia, Assisi and Arezzo, where you’ll get up close and personal with the likes of Giotto, Pintoricchio and Panicale’s native son Masolino da Panicale. And for dessert? Well, a 90-minute drive to Florence’s Uffizi, of course, the shangri-la of Italian belle arti.
Uplifting Umbrian taste buds since 1991, The Boldrini family behind Lilo Tattini know a thing or two about good food, but don’t take our word for it; L'Espresso Guide, Gamerbo Rosso and Michelin are all among its cheerleaders. Now, with Sommelier siblings Marco and Bianca at the helm, expect regional recipes passed down through generations all executed with the freshest local ingredients and needless to say, accompanied by a killer wine list. A short stroll away, the intimate Gallo nel Pozzo serves Umbrian fare with a southern twist, think oven-baked lamb in pistachio crust or hand-rolled paccheri pasta with wild peas and ciauscolo salami.
Behind the counter at Cucina 5.0you’ll find a selection of chef Luigi Buitoni’s sweet and savoury street food. Grab yourself a sugar-dusted bombolone to-go or stay in for some small plates; baccalà fritto, pulled-pork panini or a slice of fior di latte mozzarella pizza. For picture-perfect views of the piazza, pitch up at DP cafè where gelato, fresh pastries and speciality spritz make for a perky afternoon.
Not quite Ibiza, evenings in petite Panicale are typically on the timid side, but each Thursday of the summer vintage-style Bar della Piazza hosts jazz nights in Piazza Umberto. We’ve heard it’s the best tap beer in town, too.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this historic hotel in Panicale and unpacked their rust-red pashminas and heritage olive oil, a full account of their bucolic break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rastrello in Umbria…
There’s nothing as noble as an ancient olive tree. Well, maybe several ancient olive trees. And just like those age-old symbols of strength and wisdom, Rastrello understands the importance of a solid foundation. A 16th-century palazzo resurrected by architects Pelizzari Studio, the hotel’s good bones are accented by contemporary touches at every turn; terracotta stone floors line the sleek marble bathrooms; exposed beams and original brickwork set the scene for modernist furnishings; and out in the gardens, pruned Renaissance-style landscaping frames a sun-dappled custom fountain. Steeped in the slow rhythms of Panicale, just a stone’s throw away from Lake Trasimeno, this hilltop retreat offers guests an authentically Umbrian experience, with delectable dining, agricultural activities and hospitality of the highest order. And while the promise of a good view can drive man to embark on the most outrageous of endeavours, at Rastrello, all you’ll have to do is haul yourself out of bed to open the curtains. Though with beds this comfortable, and breakfast baskets ushered straight to your door, that may be quite a task in itself.