Where to stay near Rome?

MY HUSBAND AND I ARE HEADING TO PESARO, ITALY, IN JULY FOR A FRIEND'S WEDDING. WE HAVE TWO NIGHTS FREE EITHER SIDE AND ARE NOT SURE WHERE TO GO. WE'VE SPENT TIME IN FLORENCE SO IDEALLY SOMEWHERE NEW. WE FLY IN AND OUT OF ROME AND WILL HIRE A CAR. ANY ADVICE?

S. ELLIOT. BONDI

You'll probably fall off the plane in Rome exhausted and not be up to a long drive so the destination I'd suggest is Spello, a really delightful medium-sized Umbrian town just a little more than two hours' drive north from Rome Airport. Spello is a classic hilltown with remnants dating back to Roman times, ringed by medieval walls and surrounded by olive groves. If you have two nights in hand I'd suggest both in Spello; there's plenty to discover just wandering about in the town, and in summer there are lots of festivals there and in the surroundings. Have lunch with Brenda at Spello's Vinosofia and dinner at La Cantina – the truffle dishes are out of this world. There are also many more fascinating towns in the region, to name just two: Bevagna and Montefalco, the only place where the legendary Sagrantino wine is made; don't miss that. Hotel Palazzo Bocci (palazzobocci.com) is probably the best of the town's hotels. Drive time from Spello to Pesaro is around two hours if you take the SS3. 

Spello might give you an appetite for more of Umbria so on the way back another good choice would be Todi. Larger than Spello, Todi is known for its wonderful architecture including a couple of fabulous churches. Just outside the town walls, Santa Maria is rated one of the finest Renaissance churches in Italy, an absolute jewel. Todi is steep but compact enough to manage easily on foot. Its cafes and shops reflect its reputation as a popular avant-garde artsy hangout. If you want to pick up some quality souvenirs to take back home, Todi is a good bet. Rome Airport is an easy two-hour drive.

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