Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Perugia - Stansted with Ryanair

Low cost flights to Perugia from the UK

Door to door in under 6 hours (from my home in Umbria to Hitchin, Herts)

I came over to the UK last Friday for the first time in over a year, leaving Umbria from Perugia airport, and am still crowing about how easy it all was!

Although Perugia airport is undergoing expansion (to be finished in June they say...), check in was really efficient. Travelling with a toddler, I left it quite late to arrive at the airport to save too much hanging around in the departure lounge and was expecting to tag on to the end of a very long queue. Far from it, in less than 10 minutes, suitcases and car seat were checked through, we'd waved goodbye to daddy and were looking out the window of the departure lounge waiting to go!

I put this down to the efficiency of the lovely staff at Perugia airport and the fact that all the check in details are now done on line at home. I have to admit, online check in wasn't the easiest process, but if you take your time and don't rush, it's OK!

We were overjoyed to see the incoming flight land at 3.30pm, well ahead of schedule and by 4pm were safely in our seats on the plane awaiting takeoff. Two hours and 10 minutes later we were touching down in Stansted and by the time we had walked about a mile of corridors and passed through customs, our suitcases were already waiting for us.

Coming out into the arrivals area, the only disappointment was that we had arrived so early that my brother hadn't made it to the airport in time to meet us!!!!!

The only negative I could find (and there has to be at least one!) was that I wanted a cup of hot water to make some decaffinated tea for my little one on the flight but was told that wasn't possible. They have hot water but don't have a cup to put it in unless you are going to buy one of Ryanair's instant teas or coffees. Hey ho!

Will let you know about the journey back - can't imagine that getting through Stansted will be as easy as this.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Montone, Umbria, Italy

Montone, Medieval hilltop town, Umbria, Italy

Voted one of the 10 prettiest hamlets in Italy, Montone is an absolute jewel! Only 10 minutes drive away from the apartment at Villa Bastiola, this medieval hilltop town is beautiful preserved with stunning views over the Upper Tiber Valley.

It is host to the annual Umbrian Film Festival when a huge silver screen is hung in the centre of the piazza and films are watched in the warmth of a summer evening under the Umbrian skies. In 2004, Colin Firth was awarded the status of Honorary Citizen of Montone and given the key to the town by the Mayor as part of the Umbria Film Festival.

The cobbled streets wind their way up to the top of the town, passing through Piazza Fortebraccio (pictured left), where there are stunning views every where you look!

At the top of the town is the excellent restaurant, Erbaluna, well worth the walk up.

In the autumn, the narrow streets are packed with stalls for the Festa del Bosco (Woodland Fair), selling everything from Porcini mushrooms, to cheeses, olive oil, hot chocolate and home-made crafts and the wonderful smell of roast chestnuts abounds.

Montone revels in its medieval history and every year, the villagers dress up in wonderful medieval costumes and parade through the centre to celebrate the holy relic, the Santo Spino (Holy Thorn), given as a gift to the legendary mercenary, Fortebraccio, ruler of Montone in the middle ages. The Sbandieratori (Flag Throwers) of Sansepolcro demonstrate their skills in a colourful spectacle not to be missed.
All in all, a fantastic little village, perfect for a days sightseeing and only 15 minutes drive from the apartment at Villa Bastiola.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy

Città di Castello's skyline is an iconic symbol of this lovely Umbrian market town with its charming historic medieval centre. Cobbled streets wind their way to the main square where there are restaurants, shops and cafès.

At dusk, the pedestrianised Corso (High Street) comes alive as the locals walk up and down for their daily passegiata, meeting friends and family. Famous artists Raffaello and Signorellil worked here and some of Raffaello's graffiti can still be seen on some of the towns palaces!

We had a small (tiny actually! - 36m2) apartment right in the centre of Castello where we lived for over a year and we thoroughly enjoyed being part of this busy town. Just a short drive from our villa (15 mins), we often go for aperitivo, meeting friends for dinner or for shopping. The indoor market has some fantastic produce too and we really like the market on Thursday and Saturday mornings.

The best thing about Castello is that it still feels very "Italian" - it's not commercialised for tourists. It's all about Italians living their lives and you can feel very much a part of this when you visit.

Want to know more? Email me, Sally Ann, at info@villabastiola.com .

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Karen Brown Travel Guides

We are delighted to have been selected for the Traveller's Recommendations section of the Karen Brown Travellers Online Guide. Thanks to a fantastic review by one of our guests last year, Karen Brown has accepted the application and the luxury self catering apartment at Villa Bastiola is part of this delightful guide.

The guide offers hand-picked accommodation world wide, accommodation that is slightly apart from the norm in its welcome, hospitality, quality and charm. No wonder we are so pleased to be a part of this!

If any past guests would like to post a review on the site, please click on the link above. You can also post your own photos too.

We look forward to welcoming you soon!

Sally Ann, Marco and Emma (www.villabastiola.com)