Monday, 28 March 2011

Weekend in Umbria

We had some friends over visiting from the UK this weekend, so finally took some time out to do some sightseeing and remembered just what is so special about this part of Italy and Umbria. It's always interesting seeing it through the eyes of others, like seeing it for the first time again. We didn't do anything particularly special, but the whole area is just so beautiful that even driving around is a treat in itself.

First off, we went down to Perugia and parked so that we came up into the old medieval town centre which belonged to the Baglioni family. It was filled in and vaulted over in the Papal salt wars with the Rocca Paolina built on top just to remind the Perugians who was boss.

Painstakingly excavated you can now walk up through the old medieval streets, and into the houses and imagine just what it might have been like in those times. Strolling down the Corso Vannucci from the Brufani Hotel, the architecture changes from Rennaisance (the Rocca Paolina was destroyed in 1860 with the Perugians stating their claim to their own city) to 12century by the Fountain, the Town Hall, the National Museum of Art and Collegio del Cambio and is totally breathtaking. Great to see the locals buzzing around just doing their thing too!

We did a small round trip the following day to Cortona (OK, it's just over the border in Tuscany!) which although is very touristy, still has so much charm and history and incredible views. We had a wonderful lunch in FuFluns (very reasonable, home cooked Tuscan food with a twist) and then drove through beautiful countryside down to Lake Trasimeno for a stroll and an ice cream at Passignano.

It was very relaxed and lazy! There was so much more we could have stopped and investigated, like the Etruscan tombs just outside Cortona or the site of the incredible battle between Hannibal and the Romans at Tuoro (by the Lake).

My friends were overwhelmed by the beauty and living history of this part of Italy and, I have to say, I was too! Don't take my word for it though, come and see for yourself!

We have special discounts on our lovely self catering holiday apartment for bookings made by Easter 2011! Look at for more details or email me at

Monday, 21 March 2011

150 years of unified Italy!

Last Thursday saw Italy celebrating 150 years of unification! Berlusconi's government decided to mark the event with a bank holiday!

Although there were flags, bunting and banners out everywhere, the day itself was really quiet. People just seemed to enjoy being at home with family having a great lunch and maybe a stroll after. There wasn't a loud ringing of bells or huge parties to celebrate.

Maybe because, Italy still doesn't feel very unified. The social and economic differences between the north and south of Italy are still very marked. Even in this area of Umbria where we live, everything is very local, dialects can change from one village to the next and although formal Italian is taught in schools, youngsters still speak dialect at home as well.

That said, the appeal of Italy, the "thing" that we all dream of when we think of holidaying here, exists from north to south. A love of great food, amazing wines, beauty, talking, discussing, arm waving, family celebrations, sunshine and an open, take-you-to-their-hearts-manner exists wherever you go.

We tried to make the Italian flag with some cupcakes but it came out long and skinny (see the photo)!!

Alistair Sawday's Special Places to Stay

The lovely self catering holiday apartment at Villa Bastiola has been chosen as a Special Place to Stay by Alistair Sawday!

We are over the moon about this as there is a very tough selection process to get through. First you have to submit on line with a detailed brief about what makes your holiday home so special.

Then they send an inspector to visit! We had our visit at the beginning of March, which isn't the best time of year as it can look quite bleak here, but luckily the inspector can see beyond the winter and imagine how it will be during the season for our guests!

The inspector then submits a report to head office who make the final decision on selection. We are just waiting to hear the details to set up our page on their website and from next year we will be in the new 2012 guide book for Italy!

PS The photo is of one of our early summer visitors! Can't wait to see them again!!!