Property spotlight / Italy

    Palazzo Seneca, Umbria - Italy

    Located in the centre of historic Norcia, high in Umbria’s Monti Sibillini National Park, lies one of our favourite Italian hotels.

    Run by brothers Vincenzo and Federico Bianconi, Palazzo Seneca has been restored into a stylish and elegant hotel complemented by the exquisite Vespasia restaurant, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2017.

    The lowdown

    • Combine with

      This property is ideal as 2-3 night stay on more extensive central Italy fly-drives. It will also combine well with city breaks in Rome, Perugia or Florence.

    • Need to know

      Sadly Norcia was damaged by an earthquake in 2016. We visited the hotel in 2018 and there is no damage to the property but repairs to the town are ongoing.

    • Insider Tip

      Palazzo Seneca’s Vespasia restaurant serves incredible food, but its fine cuisine is mostly suited to adults and there aren’t many options for young children. There is, however, a lovely and informal restaurant just across the road. with the same owners, which works much better.

    • Be sure to try

      Around 15 minutes by car is the Piano Grande natural bowl, thrillingly carpeted – during spring – by red, yellow and purple flowers. Towering above it all is the lonely, lentil-farming hilltown of Castelluccio.

    • Quote

      “What makes Umbria special? People write reams about its light and landscape but what’s so special is that its pleasures are small-scale. It is Perugino rather than Leonardo, it is Montefalco rather than Siena, and it is students outnumbering tourists in Perugia's Piazza Italia.”

    The Palazzo’s handsome building dates to the 16th century. Distinctly Umbrian, it has a stunning stone frontage and then interiors blending contemporary elegance with traditional furnishings sourced from artisans across central Italy.

    The 24 rooms differ in shape and size, as they will in any historic hotel, but all convey a timeless elegance and come equipped with everything you’ll need for a restful stay. An excellent spa awaits in the ancient cellars while roaring log fires amid two separate lounges ensure the Palazzo is somewhere one can visit year-round.

    In our opinion, however, neither the rooms or the facilities are why you come to this hotel. No: you chiefly come for the atmosphere; for the palpable sense of place. The Palazzo Seneca is the homeliest of hotels; the sort of residence where you are greeted and treated like returning friends from the moment of arrival. Such hospitality represents undiscovered rural Italy at its finest.

    Central Norcia, among whose narrow lanes the Seneca is located, is small with a few quaint cafés and restaurants, churches worth a visit, and a nice main piazza on which to sit out on in the sun.

    That location is ideal for families or active couples seeking to take advantage of the many activities that Norcia and its dramatic surrounds offer. Activities such as hiking across the Piano Grande’s wild-flower displays or trekking into peaks accompanied by mules, mountain biking, cookery classes, guided truffle hunting with dogs, wine or olive oil-tasting, and even visits to chocolate or cheese factories.