We can arrange itineraries for you that include characteristic accommodations, expert local guides, private transport, special experiences and specific interest requests including wine, walks, art, language, history, food or whatever it is that you need to create your perfect Italian holiday.
Living locally, we have special relationships with many accommodations and specialists not only in Umbria, but also now in the Marche, Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata and Sicily.
Our local guides have worked with us for many years and we admire them for their comprehensive knowledge, love and understanding of their area. Many are specialised in art, history, walking routes and botany or the exquisite local wines and artisan fabrics, and all of them will make you feel at home in their own towns as only a local can. We can also assist in child centred activities or baby sitting if you want to soak up some of the romanticism of sunset from hilltowns alone for a few hours.
Private itineraries are priced per person for your small groups and are created to fit your preferences and interests in terms of duration, destinations, your schedule and experiences.
Food & Wine
The landscape comes to your table in the strong, simple flavours such as truffles from oak forests, splendid 'pecorino' cheeses from the Valnerina, lentils and farro from Castelluccio and salami and cured meats made from the truffle-eating wild boar around Norcia. The Apennine slopes dominating one side of the Umbrian valley have long held the reputation for producing Italy's best golden green olive oil.
Our selection of local cooking classes are based on a variety of recipes rooted in ancient tradition and some of the finest natural produce in Italy. In visits to wine cellars, private homes, villas and farmhouses as well as specialist tastings, whatever the ingredients, the accent is always on genuine flavours.
We can organise a variety of explorations of Montefalco's vineyards and cellars sampling the region's award winning Sagrantino. The Sagrantino dry red won Italy's award for the best wine of 1998. This unusual grape grows only between Medieval Montefalco and the ancient Roman town of Bevagna. Its production in local monasteries can be traced back to the early middle ages, and a sweet version produced from Sagrantino raisins was the favourite of the Vatican for the holy wine of their mass.
Itineraries can also includes truffle hunting cheese-making and cooking classes and talks on the food, wine, art and history of Umbria. In our 20 years of living in the area we have access to private cellars, local producers and growers and providores in the region. You will stay on a comfortable family run estate where traditional local meals are prepared with home grown and local produce. A couple of guided walks in the countryside can be included to refresh your palates an help maintain your appetites.
Art & History
Umbria today is both a richly fascinating example of man's fruitful collaboration with nature over the last three thousand years and a living treatise on the history of European architecture. Not only is it replete with traces of the greatest builders of the ancient world - it sits astride the Roman Via Flaminia of which there are substantial tracts remaining - but it was also part of the heartland of the ancient Etruscans from whom the Romans learned so much of their engineering. But its period of greatest glory is the middle ages when European civilization comes out of the dark ages and the foundations of the world in which we still live were laid down.
Romanesque architecture seems to grow naturally out of the ground, but Gothic also makes its appearance, culminating in the breathtaking cathedral of Orvieto, and then there is the Renaissance with it's collection of fresco cycles by masters like Filippo Lippi, Luca Signorelli, Pinturicchio and Perugino which brings these centuries of creativity to a brilliant close. The long period of poverty that then ensued may have been hard on the Umbrians, but for us it's meant that the region's extraordinary wealth of art and architecture has remained substantially unspoilt, which together with it's beautiful landscape of mountains and patterned fields make it one of Italy's most satisfying tourist destinations.
An exploration of Umbria's beautiful hilltowns and fresco cycles during guided day trips can include wine tastings of Montefalco's award winning Sagrantino wine, a medieval festival, a performance at the Spoleto Festival, a truffle hunt and local cooking classes. You will benefit from the expertise and knowledge of local residents and guides who will lead you through a maze of hidden treasures often familiar only to those who live here.
Many artists, ourselves included have been inspired enough by the beauty of the Umbrian landscape, in addition to the spectacular series of late medieval and Renaissance fresco cycles to live here permanently.
We can plan a series of visits to the private homes and studios of artists who live locally, and where you can discuss and view their work in progress.
Australian artist Neil Moore can take you to impressive locations within the towns where Etruscan arches, Roman architecture and Renaissance frescoes form a fascinating collage. The itineraries can allow you time to paint, draw or photograph while exploring a region rich in an extraordinary wealth of history, art and some of the oldest architecture in Europe
On the outskirts of Perugia is the main factory and outlet of Luisa Spagnoli, a much celebrated designer in Italy. The factory’s back door outlet has selections from last season’s range discounted by 50% and previous ranges by 70%. The designs tends towards formal with beautifully tailored suits available also as separate pieces.
Always worthwhile is a visit to the new outlet village at Val di Chiana with over 40 shops. Some of the brands are Calvin Klein, Armani, Versace, Guzzini, Alessi, Mariella Burani, Adidas, and many many more brands advertised at half price and less!
Let us walk you through a selection of our favourite hand painted ceramics outlets in Deruta from within the 370 ceramics shops in this medieval town. In the afternoon you can wade through a number of nearby cashmere outlets including Italy’s best Maria di Ripabianca and Crociani.
In Spoleto you should first visit the town simply to wander the streets & get a grip on the overall situation of shoes & shops in general. Then travel to the outskirts of the town to the factory of Mastro Raffael - one of Italy’s most prized producers of drapery.
A relaxing morning in our favourite local shopping town is recommended. Foligno is totally off the main tourist stream and the piazza has a couple of delightful cafes for sitting, people watching and researching what Italian’s wear and how they wear it ! The afternoon in Montefalco exploring the local linen and wine industry. We can organise a visit to a factory outlet of one of the town’s historic fabric producers & finish with a glass of prize winning red and truffle bruschetta at sunset in the piazza.
Travelling into the Marche you can move from outlet to outlet stocking up on Italian designer shoes at the various factories. Our visits take in Prada, the Tod’s / Hogan outlet and a special favourite Fabi, amongst others. Lunch is included at our favourite seafood restaurant on the beach.
Hidden Italy Walks
Umbria is a dream landscape of serene valleys and fortified hill towns, vineyards and olive groves, in a setting of unsurpassed beauty nestling at the heart of the Italian peninsula. The itineraries can include guided walks through a landscape of extraordinary and uncontaminated beauty, of softly undulating mountains, following ancient trails laid by hermits, saints, peasants and pilgrims.
Visit celebrated Medieval and Roman towns which retain the hauntingly primeval qualities of their past, and provide intriguing glimpses of the ancient world. Days are spent high in the Apennine mountains, or simply immersed in the unsurpassed beauty of patterned fields and hilltop towns that give Umbria its characteristic charm.
That is our dog, Zeus in the photo to the left, not some strange species of Umbrian wild boar. The National forest is 10 minutes from home and we wander the hunter's trails often. We can take you there.