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Fourteen Perfect Days in Umbria!
Here is a self-guided intinerary for two weeks, which is ideal to immerse yourselves in our area.
Day One: Sunday so you must take our tour of the Museum of Glass to learn about Piegaro's glassmaking fame and how L'Antica Vetreria started over 750 years of history beginning in 1292. Well curated you will understand how over 750 years of glass making evolved. After this tour, a small buffett of breads, olive oil, local meats, cheeses and wine is shared. By noon you are on your way for an afternoon of culture and shopping! It must be Cortona! Take a leisurely drive along Lago Trasimeno up to the Tuscan town of Cortona, made famous by “Under the Tuscan Sun” and one of our all-time favorite shopping towns. The very best leather bags and purses at half the price of Rome or Florence, fabulous art, great ceramics, olive wood, hand-crafted shoes, best prices on cashmere, and linens. Enjoy the gorgeous piazza, wander the cobble streets, climb up to the top visiting little churches filled with frescoes. Have one of the best lunches enjoying the passing parade on the terrace of Bar 500. A sacred and untouched mystical place on the north side of Cortona is Celle de Cortona, a monastery with its waterfall outside St. Francis’ small bedroom. From Cortona you can return home, or visit the beautiful little town of Castliglion Fiorentino to the north, or head back via Castiglione del Lago with huge views over Lago Trasimeno.
Day Two: It is our free wine tour and tasting at the famous Monte Vibiano Cantina the world's only carbon free and organic producer of wine and olive oil. We start with a visit to our typical weekly market with many stalls stocked with finest cheeses, vegetables, fruits and three porchetta trucks (picture full roast pigs stuffed with herbs), clothing, hats, shoes….great fun! This is your perfect introduction to the sweet life of Umbria. Traveling through the Piegaro Comune we pass jaw-dropping vistas across to Perugia and even, yes, Assisi, as we travel only twenty minutes through the countryside. We pass the little towns and villages of Pietrafietta with its Paleonthology museum, Cibottola’s castle, views to Castiglione della Valle, Castligione del Fosco to arrive at Mercatello and the Cantina. Full description of wine tour and tasting here: http://www.anticavetreria.net/castello-monte-vibiano-vecchio-winery
After the tour and tasting, it is time for lunch and we will visit a local restaurant for a gourmet meal. Linger over the meal as Italians do and you will experience a perfect afternoon. Back at L’Antica Vetreria, it is time for a nap, a swim or sitting in the sun with a good book.
Day Three: It’s Wednesday, a perfect day for Orvieto! You can relax with a half-day tour or make it a full day by adding a visit to nearby Civita di Bagnoregio. Orvieto has one of the most stunning Duomo’s in Italy with its glittering facade, and closely connected to L’Antica Vetreria because our glass artisans made the twinkling mosaics that fill this façade. Two chapels within are a must see (details in itinerary booklet). Take the Underground Tour to visit two of the vast man-made caverns that honeycomb the Orvieto underground. Lunch at Trattoria Etrusca just down a lane opposite the Duomo. Great shopping in Orvieto: jewelry, ceramics, linens, olive wood, toys and more. Climb to the top of the tower for thrilling views or go deep within an ancient well. Orvieto has it all!
Return to Piegaro to relax, or extend the day with a visit to the eroding as we watch, tiny village of Civita, accessed only by a long bridge. Sitting on top of its tufa cliff, it is a trip back in time and nature combined.
Day Four: This is the day for magnificent Assisi! You need a very full day today to truly experience and follow in the footsteps of its revered Saints Francis and Clare. Start at San Damiano chapel to sit in the place where Francis had his vision to follow a life of poverty and where Sister Clare lived her life in a cloistered convent. Now up the Mount Subasio to visit the monastery and natural sanctuary where Francis meditated and slept in a grotto at Eremo dei Carceri. This is the closest to the mystical experience of nature that one can get in Assisi, before you plunge into the heavily touristy center. Stop for lunch down the mountain at La Stalla where everything is cooked on a huge grill. Then down the hill into Assisi: a visit to the Basilica of Saint Clare, then meander along to the Roman Temple in Piazza del Comune and the lovely museum under the Cathedral of San Rufino. Good shopping along the way (list of shops in your apartment) to the opulent Basilica of Francis filled with the most sublime art in Italy and his tomb deep underground. If you are feeling energetic, cap the day with a climb to the Rocca and if you have lingered long enough, a stunning sunset.
Day Five: It is Thursday so it must be a day to meet People! Spend the day with our friend, Jennifer McIlvaine, who creates unique experiences of authentic Umbria: Take a horseback riding tour of a vineyard or book a bicycle ride through the countryside with a nice luncheon. Spend the day visiting with local farmers to learn to make cheese or salami. http://www.lifeitalianstyle.com/ Take a cooking lesson, or gather truffles, wild asparagus or mushrooms at dawn with a local from Piegaro. Visit Deruta and learn to paint your own majolica ceramics. Colleen can help create the perfect experience of each season! This could well be the best day of your visit to Umbria.
Day Six: Friday is a fine day to visit historic Perugia, so close to Piegaro. Perugia is Umbria’s provincial capital and the sprawling modern suburbs can put the visitor off, but do not be daunted, Colleen will give you excellent directions to get to the Piazza Partigiani parking lot and take the escalators passing through the underground ruins of the medieval alley of the city. With Colleen’s excellent guidebook you will discover that Perugia is full of interesting churches, monuments, and museums, including her favorite Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria. Stroll the Corso Vanucci and stop for lunch at an outdoor restaurant. Wait for coffee and dessert at Pasticceria Sandri. You can spend the afternoon visiting local artisans who create hand-loomed Umbrian linens, artists who paint stained glass, and visit work-shop museums where artisans have worked for centuries. You will leave with a deeper understanding of Umbrian artisan culture and take home a unique souvenir. On the way back home from Perugia, take an hour to visit the exquisite village, Corciano. Perched above a modern area filled with stores, it is a hidden gem if you take the time to drive up the hill. So charming and every single cobbled street and building is picture-perfect. Drop by the Church of Santa Maria Assunta to view a sublime painting by Perugino.
Day Seven: Saturday is a day for Nature to discover just why Umbria is called Italy’s Green Heart! Our personal favorite is the towering waterfalls of Marmore, especially on a hot spring or summer day! The tallest waterfalls in Europe were created by the Romans as a vast hydroenergy source of water. Twice a day the gates are opened and the falls are spectacular as are the walks around and even through them. For such a small region, Umbria has seven regional parks and one national park. Take the day to visit the breathtaking Piano Grande in Sibilline National Park with its thousands of wildflowers blooming between May and July, but gorgeous any season. If you have time, visit Norcia, a delightful town famous for its pork products, truffles and lentils. I Ristorante Beccofino in Piazza San Benedetto is highly recommended. Or go the other direction into Tuscany and visit the Val d’Orcia and the beautiful natural hot springs of Saturnalia.
Day Eight: Sunday and time for “la dolce vita”….kick back, take a rest….get caught up with that book, swim and laze by the pool, walk around Piegaro, book a leisurely lunch on the restaurant terrace, do laundry, or take an hour to make a circuit around to the small and very beautiful castles and tiny borgos in our Comune. It is only 15 minutes to the beautiful town of Citta della Pieve to see two paintings by Perugino and grab a gelato, or do the same thing in nearby Panicale with its incredible views of Lago Trasimeno. Colleen can create the perfect restful itinerary.
Day Nine: Monday, a great day to visit some of the most beautiful towns in Umbria, Spello and a couple of the “I Borghi piu Belli della Italia”, the most beautiful villages in Italy. Spello has all of the charm of Assisi without the crowds. Roam around this town filled with flowers, flowers in pots, spilling over balustrades, flowing from windowsills. Take in the Pinturicchio fresoes in the Cappella Baglioni and the Roman Porta Venere. Dine in any of the many little wine bars that abound in the streets of Spello.
After you leave Spello, you can drop by and visit one or two of the smaller “il Borghi pui Belli” such as: Montefalco, Bevagna or Deruta on the way home. Each is a stunning example of a perfectly preserved medieval town with hidden gems of paintings, churches, frescoes and piazza life! Or just head back for an afternoon of relaxation by the pool and enjoy the sweet life of doing nothing!
Day Ten: Save Tuesday for Gubbio! This perfect medieval walled town is a great place to begin in Umbria. It is rooted in the ancient tribe of the Umbrii (their language is preserved on the Eugubine Tablets in the Civic Museum). The largest existing Roman theatre is what is left of the Romans and then the entire town has been perfectly preserved in the middle ages. Be sure to take the Funivia to the top of Mount Ingino, a thrilling ride in a metal cage built for two! Visit the Chapel of St. Ubaldo, Gubbio’s patron saint…he is also perfectly preserved in his glass casket. See the giant ceri used in a race up the mountain in the middle of May each year. Eat an excellent lunch at the top in the restaurant overlooking the panoramic vista below or return to town. Be sure to dine on truffles while you’re there as it is the home of giant white truffles. It is a fine time to shop for the distinctive ceramics in moody dark blues and burgundy colors.
Day Eleven: Wednesday drive all around Lago Trasimeno visiting Castiglione del Lago to explore the fortress that guards the lake, shopping in the little food stores with delicacies of beans, pasta and pork of Umbria; on to Passignano with its beach and ferry to the Isola Maggiore a tiny island in the middle of the lake and a wonderful boat ride. Visit the famous battle landmarks around Touro, where Hannibal defeated over 15,000 Romans. Coming all the way around to San Feliciano for dinner at one of our favorites Rosso di Sera and enjoy the beautiful sunset, or continue on to Faliero, our very favorite and very Italian trattoria to sit on their terrace for the sunset views over the lake and eat cheap, delicious lake fish….very much a scene with not a single tourist.
Day Twelve: It’s Thursday, so time for a visit to the Valnerina. If you did not visit Marmore waterfalls yet, this is the day for it and this entire dramatic corner of Umbria. Explore the Nera River Regional Park, winding your way past the gorgeous San Pietro in Valle abbey and the villages perched along the river valley, Arrone, Vallo di Nera, Scheggino, Sant’Anatolia di Narco, Cerreto di Spoleto. It is amazing that these places are still inhabited, so remote, yet enchanting.
OR: It’s Thursday and time to explore nearby Tuscany! In just a few minutes you can be in Montepulciano, and the UNESCO World Heritage Val d’Orcia with picture postcard views of Tuscan cypress lining driveways to a farm perched on a hilltop. Our favorite is Pienza, a perfect example of Renaissance architecture, preserved by its son who became Pope Pius II. Montalcino is famous for its robust Brunello wines. Gregorian chanting can be heard in the beautiful Abbey of Sant’Antimo just past Montalcino.
Day Thirteen: Friday. Oh, no! Time is getting short and you did not get to do all that you wished on your People Day last week. Perhaps, you do want that horseback ride into the vineyards with another wine tasting. Did you get to hunt for truffles or gather wild asparagus. Maybe a farm tour with Jennifer is in order. http://www.lifeitalianstyle.com/ This is the day to see and do whatever you missed: Bevagna a favorite because it is flat, Montefalco with its amazing Sagrantino wine vineyards and L’Alchimista for dinner. Citta della Pieve, right down the road from Piegaro, with the smallest street in Italy, Etruscan tombs, Perugino paintings and lovely piazzas with views into Tuscany. Did you visit Deruta? Colleen can recommend the best ceramic shops who will give you a pottery lesson and ship your goods safely home.
Day Fourteen: Day of departure from our beloved Umbria. If your plane does not leave early, there is still time to explore on the way to the airport or to your next destination. We hope that you have had the best Umbria has to offer….with one caveat…Tom and Colleen have been traveling and living in Umbria for over twenty years and have not seen it all! You will be back for this is not goodbye, but arrivederci (see you soon)!
Special Festivals will be on the itinerary as the seasons unfold.