“Every morning, when we get up and see the views and the scenery, we pinch ourselves,” says Alana Mazza, the owner with husband Joe of Casale San Pietro, a recently-opened luxury B&B in the heart of the Lazio countryside.

After decades-long successful but demanding careers in the retail industry, Alana and Joe felt they needed to slow down. They had been living in Yorkshire, where Joe owned three hair salons, while Alana commuted to London three to four times a week to work at Hobbs as the retail director, managing 165 stores in the U.K. and beyond. She woke up at 5 am and did not return home until 8 or 9 pm. “We both love people, and feel passionate about service, so we wanted to continue working, but not at the same pace,” Alana recounts. “We had an apartment near Fiuggi for 14 years and loved and adored the area, so the ideal scenario for our new chapter of life was to live in this stunning part of Italy, creating this beautiful small hotel and welcoming guests.  It was a perfect next chapter.”

[Alana and Joe Mazza with their staff at Casale San Pietro, a beautiful B&B in the heart of the Lazio countryside.]

When Alana and Joe learned that Casale San Pietro, one of their favorite restaurants in the area, had been put up for sale, they decided to buy it. To them, it was the perfect place – a restored farmhouse - in a perfect location – the lovely countryside 45 minutes from Rome -  to launch their new business.

Casale San Pietro stands indeed in an ideal position: close enough to the Italian capital to easily go sightseeing, while removed from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The area is home to a number of small medieval towns and off-the-beaten track attractions, including the landscaped Garden of Ninfa, described as the “most romantic garden in the world”; Fumone, a walled medieval town inhabited by only 50 families; and the 16th-century Villa D’Este in Tivoli, a Unesco World Heritage site famous for its terraced Italian Renaissance garden and profusion of fountains. If B&B guests prefer not to drive, Joe offers customizable tours of both Rome’s historic center and of the surrounding area, all complemented by his insider’s tips on the best local places to eat.

Not that guests would have to constantly busy themselves. Casale San Pietro is designed to help visitors unwind and slow down. A great place to do that is the Long Room, the hub of the house, a beautiful room with the original cotto floor, exposed stone walls and ceiling beams, Murano glass chandeliers and a fireplace. People can sit on the sofas to read or have a drink from the honesty bar while chatting with friends. The lovingly-designed 12mx6m pool may tempt guests to spend the entire day lounging by it, enjoying the view across the olive groves, and the fragrance of lavender, herbs and flowers. Cookery masterclasses and yoga retreats are offered as well.

[The Long Room at Casale San Pietro, the hub of the house.]

The rooms themselves are designed for lingering: radiating Italian country charm with their wooden ceiling beams and cotto floors, the five bedrooms at Casale San Pietro display a mix of antique and contemporary furniture, each with its own unique style, and offer all modern comforts, including free wi-fi and air conditioning. The en-suite bathrooms are finished in Italian marble and include a selection of olive oil toiletries. All rooms include a large terrace where to relax and enjoy the spectacular views overlooking the olive groves and mountains beyond. “We have put the best of everything into the Casale,” Alana says proudly.

[The rooms at Casale San Pietro are designed for lingering. All feature a terrace with view of the countryside.]

To achieve the best has meant hard work and some setbacks. When the husband-wife team started out, Alana had underestimated the amount of work  needed to renovate and open the business, so they went over the budget originally set aside and took longer than what they had planned to kick things off. However, they did not let the difficulties put them down and it was not long before the first rewards began to arrive: the reviews on Trip Advisor and Sawday’s have been very positive and guests leave happy. “Many of them are leaving as friends,” Alana says.

That’s because Alana and Joe like to make their guests feel at home and involve them in the life of Casale San Pietro. A big part of Casale San Pietro’s life are the olive groves, which cover an area of eight acres. While busy renovating the farmhouse, Alana and Joe also completed their first olive harvest. A challenge for sure, being a completely new experience for them, and yet another success: they produced 800 liters of olive oil, and, within a week, they had sold almost 600 liters. “Word spread very quickly that we had excellent olive oil,” says Alana. “We are now turning people away; after all, we need to keep some for ourselves and some for our guests to purchase and enjoy.”

In fact, the olive harvest was such a great experience that, this year, Alana and Joe will be offering guests the chance to experience first-hand the olive harvest. During the weekends of November 5-6 and 12-13, guests will be able to help pick the olives, have a tour around the frantoio, and taste the oil off the first press, followed by lunch in the olive groves and dinner to celebrate the harvest. In other words, as Alana points out, “They will live the dream.”

[The lovingly-designed pool at Casale San Pietro with views of the property's olive groves.]

What we love about Casale San Pietro
- The peaceful location in the Italian countryside
- The warm feel of the traditional Italian farmhouse
- The elegant and luxurious rooms equipped with all modern comforts
- The pool designed for lounging
- The easy access to Rome

Casale San Pietro is located in Anagni, Località San Filippo (FR). For more information and to book a stay, visit the Casale San Pietro website and stay up-to-date with activities and events on Facebook.