A guide to places far & near - including cultural & artistic highlights
At 550m this ancient Etruscan site commands stunning far reaching views into the Upper Tiber Valley “(Valtiberina) and the Appenines of Umbria, Tuscany and the Marche. The”Via Francigena” of Saint Francis the ancient pilgrims’ walk and now a wonderfully discreet signed walking route from La Verna , where St. Francis lived in a cave, to Assisi runs close by. Winding across the ridges of the Appenines and connecting some of the most picturesque hilltop villages in Italy.
Our nearest large town is Città di Castello at 6km. It is the second largest council in Umbria and a wealthy town.
The old centre (centro storico) still retains the Roman street plan which is emphasized the further you walk from the main square, Piazza Gabriotti. This square has the feel of a stage set in the warm, still summer evenings with the lighting on the square illuminating the cafes and bars, and frequently summer entertainment provided free by the Council.
There are 3 Vitelli palaces, a family closely linked to the Medici, one of them now the Art Gallery which is decorated on the outside with Vasari Graffitti.A cathedral which was never quite finished on the outside but is magnificient on the inside and a Cathedral museum. The pride of the town is its Burri Collections, Italy's most famous modern artist. An early collection housed in a palace in the town centre and another later collection housed dramatically in a cathedral sized building which is an ex tobacco warehouse.
A town just north of Città di Castello - San Giustino - was the first place to grow tobacco in Europe in the 1600’s and since then it has been a continuing source of wealth for the area
A marvellous printer in the centro storico printed the first copy of “Pinnochio” and is now open to the public and still working some historical print machines.
You will find so much to do so near at hand and all the information you need will be found in the Villa
Immediately nearby, just over the border into Tuscany 4km away is the charming village of Monterchi where the Renaissance painter Piero della Francesca was born. His most famous painting The Madonna del Parto is now housed in the old school house in a protective and climate controlled glass case. It seems an unlikely place for one of the most famous paintings in the world but being able to view it at leisure in such a peaceful environment is a remarkable experience.
Ten minutes further on from Monterchi another famous hill town comes into view, officially one of the most beautiful towns in Italy, Anghiari, site of the famous battle of 1505 and subsequently the “Lost Leonardo”. Then there is Citerna looking down at both of them from its hilltop position, beautifully restored,immaculately maintained under the watchful eye of it’s mayor and well deserving of its title as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. It was here that an art student discovered a Donatello statue of the Madonna and Child 7 years ago. Now restored and to be viewed in the church. Within a radius of 10 km we are blessed with the most exquisite and interesting small towns, either nestling in the Tiber valley or looking down from the hilltops. For those who are content to stay close to home and really get to know the local area, the rewards are great and the pace so relaxing.
Sansepolcro in the Tiber valley is an upmarket small Tuscan town which gives us the chance to see the home of Piero della Francesca and come face to face with his powerful painting of The Resurrection.
There is so much to see in Valtiberina, just taking in the idyllic countryside is inspiring enough. It is worth remembering that the Renaissance artists used this area as their template for paradise and there are views today that you will recognize from their paintings.
Michelangelo’s home at Caprese Michelangelo is a 35 min drive, and it is there he returned for inspiration for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling.
Going just a little further away, we find the magnificent Etruscan and Medieval city of Perugia ; you must walk down the ancient cobbled street and under the impressive Etruscan Arch and remind yourself that it really is that old! The main Corso in Perugia is one of the most beautiful main streets in Italy and the views from the park across to Assisi and further down the Tiber Valley to Montefalco are breathtaking.
And then, of course, Assisi, the second most visited place in Italy & the Bethlehem of the Renaissance artists. Take the back road out from Perugia airport and you will see a view of the massive basilica that is unbelievable. The frescos of Giotto are a lifetime experience in the upper Basilica but do not miss the lower church, the real church and Tomb of St Francis, the emotion is palpable.
Arezzo the nearest large town in Tuscany is a 40 min drive and very different. A confident renaissance town with a stunning piazza home to a thriving antiques market, indeed the town is full of antique shops. They hold a palio in the square to rival that of Sienna. Then, of course, the world famous frescos of Piero della Francesca as seen in The English Patient, they are a must. Opposite the church the famous café that featured in La Vita e Bella. Not to forget all the wonderful shopping and restaurants under the Vasari Loggia.
A 90min drive into the Marche through the passes of Bocca Trabbaria or Bocca Seriola takes you to the “Ideal City” of Urbino. The scenery is fantastic and the driving is interesting! Return home at sunset and you will see a sight that you will remember for ever.
An hour and a half away by car would find you in Florence or Sienna. It is advisable to book all the main museums and art galleries in advance, it is impossible to get entry at short notice. You can also take the train to Florence from Arezzo; because of the parking restrictions in the city it is strongly advised.
For those of you who just must see Rome. Book the Freccia Rossa (Red Arrow) from Arezzo and you will arrive as if by magic. This means a day trip is very possible. Once again it is advisable to book tickets well in advance through the summer months.
00 44 (0)1206 323080 after 8pm
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Local tourist information
Click below to find out information about places of interest locally.
What did our guests say
Find out what our guests say about our luxury holiday villa in Guest Review
"You know everything must be perfect when
you realise you just don't want to go home. The stresses of life soon evaporated in fromt of the pool while admiring the garden and the panoramic views......
Thank you Carole for allowing us to share your wonderful home."
Julian, Carolyn and Alexandra,
"Thank you for sharing this very special place with us. We needed this moment of peace, beauty and healing and we will always remember this hilltop in Umbria for the gift it gave us"
Steve and Cookie Roberts,
"Thank you Carole for such a wonderful week of self indulgence. This is so much more than a rental villa"
Our best evenings were at home looked after by your wonderful cook.
We would love to return"
Jan and Adam