This sleek modern house sits contentedly on a hill, all pristine white stone, burnt sienna trimmings and lovely views. Beyond the pool and smooth green lawns are vineyards, olive grove and the big oak tree that gives the house its name. Architect Piercarlo and journalist Nadia designed and built it as a family retreat from busy Rome, so it’s wonderfully well equipped and full of family treasures – Murano glass mirror, wrought iron Swedish bed, Turkish carpets. It’s great for groups or families, with shower room and one or two bedrooms on each of three floors. Large open plan spaces to gather in too, including an up-to-the-minute kitchen, plus doors out to pool and gardens, a terrace above, table tennis and even a laundry room in the basement. All this, and it’s eco friendly too – Piercarlo has included solar panels, efficient heating and cooling systems, and biomass energy. Tear yourself away from this hilltop idyll for watersports and swimming in Lake Bracciano, pretty lakeside villages, fine Etruscan towns and gardens. And of course, save a day or two to take the train into Rome and revel in its splendours.