Admire the view!
Pour a refreshing drink and take it out on the terrace for surely one of the most breathtaking views in the region!
Italian cookery classes
Available at a nearby restaurant, La Chiusa, near Niccone. You can learn to make proper pasta by hand, potato gnocchi, pizza, breads, desserts... simple dishes full of flavour. Classes are organised on request, from a single day to a four day course.
The hilltop town of Cortona is lovely to wander around and although it can get quite busy, it is definitely worth a visit - steep cobbled streets lined with art galleries, boutiques, cafes and gelaterie (ice cream shops). For far-reaching views, head up the hill to the Fortezza Medicea, which was built for the Medicis. On the way back down, seek out the Vicolo Jannelli, a little street with some of the oldest surviving houses in Italy. Our top tip to avoid the steep walk up to the town - park at the car park on the Viale Battisti and take the escalators up to the Via Nazionale. From there it's just a short, flat walk to the main square.
Perugia is a very well preserved medieval hill town with amazing views from various places. Elegant and infused with history, architecture and art, it is also very much a modern city, vibrant and with lots to see and do throughout the year. The main street in the old town, Corso Vanucci, is a wide avenue lined with shops and restaurants. It leads to the grand Piazza IV Novembre, which is surrounded by the splendid Palazzo dei Priori and the San Lorenzo Cathedral.
Galleria Nazionale Umbria in Corso Vannucci, Perugia.
One of the great picture collections in central Italy, Perugino and Piero are certainly highlights but much of central Italian painting from the 14th to 17th century are well-represented including works by Gozzoli, Duccio, Gentile da Fabriano and Pinturicchio. There are many superb churches in Perugia so a full day out awaits!
Museo dell Accademia Etrusca in Piazza Signorelli, Cortona
This superb museum traces the Etruscan past of this area via incredible antiquities, well-labelled and displayed.
Just over half an hour's drive away, Italy's fourth largest lake and its environs are a protected regional park covering 13,200 hectares, including the Oasi la Valle wetlands which are an important habitat for migratory birds. There are eight public beaches, and some good waterfront fish restaurants around the lake.
Activities at Lake Trasimeno
Various water sports are on offer, including sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Or if you prefer dry land, the area is ideal for cycling, with a designated 'Lake Trasimeno cycle trail' between Castiglione and Torricella. You can hire a motor boat or join an organised boat trip to the islands in the middle of the lake.
At Tuoro, which is the village you meet travelling from the house to Lake Trasimeno, you can walk and drive the various battle stages of the 'Battle of Lake Trasimene' when the Carthaginian general Hannibal engaged with the Roman Flaminius in July 217 BC during the Second Punic War. Hannibal was making his way through Italy and hemmed in the Romans against the lake, which led to them being heavily defeated.
Passignano sul Trasimeno
This pretty village is perched on the northern edge of Lake Trasimeno, so is the closest point of the lake to the property. Enjoy a stroll through the cobbled streets up to the castle which offers great views over the lake, then take a boat trip from the pier to Maggiore Island and follow one of the shaded walking trails that wind their way around the island to the church at the top. A small cluster of restaurants and shops nestle round the harbour and offer an ideal spot to enjoy lunch whilst watching the boats come and go. Back in Passignano, take a front row seat at one of the waterfront cafes with a gelato or a Spritz.
Castiglione del Lago
Castiglione old town sits on a limestone promontory on the western side of Lake Trasimeno. Enjoy a walk around the medieval walls of the Palazzo Ducale to the Rocca del Leone fortress, a great example of Umbrian military architecture. Enjoy lunch at one of the boutique restaurants, with their tables spilling onto the cobbled streets. Then take a stroll down to the water's edge, for an opportunity to swim in the lake or hire a pedalo or canoe and enjoy a view of the town from the water. A relaxed waterfront bar offers refreshments and snacks and there is a shady play park for the children.
Work up an appetite
with a game of tennis at Mercatale, or a round of golf at Cortona. There is also horse riding on offer in the Cortona area.
Città di Castello
Just to the north of the house, over the border into Umbria, Città di Castello has a rich Renaissance heritage and also a great tradition of crafts, particularly textiles and the art of printing. Nearby is the 'Terme di Fontecchio', a thermal spa whose waters have been used since Roman Times.
Gubbio is one of those undiscovered gems - a town that has managed to avoid being on the tourist trail but that is definitely worth visiting. It has been described as an enchanting medieval jewel where the old streets seem to march up the steep slopes of the tree-clad mountain slopes. The streets lead to a most stunning piazza that overlooks the valley. There are also churches decorated with frescoes that look as clear as the day they were painted, 'palazzi' from the 13th and 14th centuries, a Roman theatre dating from the 1st century BC, as well as modern shops and restaurants. Take the cable car from the east side of the town to the top of Monte Ingino to visit the Basilica di Sant'Ubaldo, and for some wonderful views over the Appennines.
Visit the Museo Civico in Sansepolcro
... to see Piero della Francesca's famous works, 'The Resurrection' and ' The Madonna of the Misericordia'. The Resurrection was described by Aldous Huxley as 'the best painting in the world'.
The city of Arezzo is about an hour's drive to the north. Its famous residents have included the poet Petrarch and the painter Piero della Francesca. In more recent times, it was the setting for the film 'Life is Beautiful' by Roberto Benigni. The hub of the city is the red-brick Piazza Grande, surrounded by many beautiful buildings. Do not miss the Basilica of San Francesco to see Piero della Francesca's largest and finest work, 'History of the True Cross'.
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