Colleen's "Insider" Tours of Umbria & Tuscany

Colleen's "Insider" Tours are only offered to L'Antica Vetreria guests.  Tailored for the best "must see" attractions, guests receive the benefit of over 20 years of Colleen's experience visiting and living here.  Colleen has a degree in Art History and Italian Culture.  You will be given a complete handout during the tour with detailed cultural highlights and Colleen will take you to outstanding recommended restaurants.

Orvieto is a “must see” for many reasons.  Orvieto is one of the most dramatic hill towns in Italy, perched on a plateau atop huge tufa cliffs created by an ancient volcanic eruption. Orvieto has a stunning Duomo (cathedral) and its monuments and museums cover millenniums of history starting with the Etruscans. Later, during the Middle Ages, many popes lived here for refuge from the many sackings of Rome, since it was so easily defended. The magnificent mosaic façade of the Duomo was created by the glass artisans of L’Antica Vetreria who were famous and sought after for their glassmaking. Visit the fascinating Underground Orvieto, climb a tower or go deep inside St. Patrick's well! Colleen creates a perfect tour for children and adults alike. An easy half day for touring and shopping for ceramics, olive wood and beautiful jewelry or make a very thorough explore with a full day!   Or Half Day Tour of Orvieto can be combined with tour of Civita di Bagnoregio to make a Full Day Tour.  This is a Rick Steves favorite, a tiny hamlet perched on an eroding tufa cliff with the only access across a massive bridge. Visit it before it disappears completely.

Deruta is world famous for its ceramics.  Colleen will arrange visits to shops that will ship safely and who have the best reputions for quality. Learn to throw a pot yourself and also visit a private ceramics museum in one of the shops where you can purchase ancient ceramics. Arrange for a lesson to learn to paint your very own ceramic bowl with one of the most talented ceramics artists of Deruta.  Half Day tour is sufficient. 

Assisi is the mystical soul of Umbria, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Colleen's most sought after tours.  She will take you to hidden gems that few tourist ever see: San Damiano Convent and Eremo dei Carceri high on the mountain above Assisi with its tranquil foot paths, open air amphitheaters where Francis preached to the animals and birds and the cave Grotto where St. Francis meditated.  Walk in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare for a truly spiritual experience of this town with its treasures including the beautiful Gothic Basilica of St.Clare with its flying buttresses and Museum of Relics, the Temple of Minerva and the magnificent Basilica of St. Francis, packed with the world's' finest frescoes and artwork, which houses the tomb of this revered Saint. Children love Assisi and have a special viewpoint and experience of Assisi. This tour is called "Seeing St. Francis Through a Child's Eyes".  Full Day Tours only.

Gubbio is a perfectly preserved Gothic town with many cobbled streets and byways to discover. Great shopping for Gubbio ceramics. Ride a cable car to the top of Mt. Ingino where we will dine in a fine restaurant with magnificent views and visit the Church of St. Ubaldo, patron saint of Gubbio, who saved Gubbio from destruction by Emporer Federick Barbarossa. Learn how you can become a certified "lunatic" by circling a historic fountain three times. Visit the largest existing Roman Theater and the massive Palazzo dei Consoli with its museum and the Eugubine Tablets, the only known vanished language of the ancient pre-Roman ancient Umbrians and much more. Full Day Tours only.

Lago Trasimeno and the surrounding towns: Make a circuit around the largest lake in the Italian Peninsula visiting Castiglione del Lago with its historic fortress jutting into the lake and many shopping opportunities, the beach community of Passignano, Tuoro: site of the great Roman defeat by Hannibal, the beautiful little fishing village of San Feliciano, eat at our favorite fish restaurant by the lake with magnificent views and the grand finale: historic Panicale for dessert in the thriving main piazza! Full Day Tour.

Local villages of Piegaro and Panicale: Visit hidden gems within Piegaro and Panicale Comune (County) such as the tiny Greppolischieto Castle home of the designer Madame Fendi, a perfect place to photograph and paint with grand views. We will drive along ridges, passing groves of olive trees and vineyards for the best views across the Valle Nestore to see Perugia, Assisi and Lago Trasimeno in the distance. Visits to Castlglion Fosco, the tiny Ierna with its historic church and on to Paciano and Panicale.  Half Day or Full Day Tours depending on lunch and choice of towns.

Tuscany:     Cortona, made famous by "Under the Tuscan Sun" book and movie is a shopper's paradise.  Find out where to purchase the best cashmere, linens, hand-crafted shoes, finest leather bags at discount and jewelry. Colleen will take you on a tour of an artwork shop with historic well and ancient chapel. Visit a little known church to see St.Francis' tunic and the place called Celle di Cortona where his perfectly preserved cell can be viewed.  Half Day for Cortona or Full Day Tours can be combined with a visit to Castilgione del Lago the castle town jutting into Lago Trasimeno.

(Personal Favorite) Pienza, La Foce and the iconic Val d'Orcia: A Full Day Tour through some of the most iconic places in Tuscany.  Visit Pienza, the perfectly preserved Ideal City of Pope Pius II, the first Humanist Pope, a little Renaissance gem  designated as a World Heritage UNESCO site, the town is intended to harmonise with nature to maximise the happiness of its inhabitants. The pope - a local aristocrat - travelled widely in Europe and looked for inspiration at the gothic cathedrals of northern Europe. Twenty thousands builders worked on the new town. "Pienza was born from the dream of a great humanist. Everything you see in the centre of Pienza, this palace, the cardinals’ palaces opposite, the cathedral, the public palace, the bishop’s palace, were built in three years," said Vittorio Carnesecchi, curator of Palazzo Paccolomini.      Dine at La Bandita, a fabulous restaurant the serves fresh Tuscan ingredients with a new spin.  Driving back through the Val d'Orcia will take you through the perfectly sculptured landscape with the neat rows of cypress climbing up to a hilltop Villa.  A UNESCO World Heritage Landscape because this land was actually perfectly sculpted during the Renaissance, one of the first landscape design marvels of the world! A visit to La Foce estate gardens with a rich history; a vast farm estate rescued by the Marquesa Iris Origo and her husband, Antonio, in the 1920's.  They pulled the farmlands from ruin and made modern farming, a school for children, a hospital. Tour the gardens created for Iris as a place of beauty in the wilderness of the Crete (eroded clay hills).  One of Colleen's Favorite Tours!!  Or 1/2 day trip to La Foce with lunch at Dopolavoro (the old social hall for farmers and now a gourmet place to eat) on the estate with visit to the gardens on Wednesday afternoons. See link about La Foce:

  • Orvieto Duomo's glittering mosaics.

    Orvieto Duomo's glittering mosaics.

  • Civita de Bagnoregio eroding on its bluff of tufa.

    Civita de Bagnoregio eroding on its bluff of tufa.

  • Deruta Ceramics.

    Deruta Ceramics.

  • Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi

    Basilica of St. Clare of Assisi

  • Eremo dei Carceri Monastery built into the mountain of Subasio in Assisi.

    Eremo dei Carceri Monastery built into the mountain of Subasio in Assisi.

  • San Damiano Convent Courtyard.

    San Damiano Convent Courtyard.

  • Ride to the top of Mt. Igino in Gubbio.

    Ride to the top of Mt. Igino in Gubbio.

  • Gubbio's Roman Ampitheater.

    Gubbio's Roman Ampitheater.

  • Lago Trasimeno serene in the evening sunset.

    Lago Trasimeno serene in the evening sunset.

  • The Fortress of Castiglione del Lago guarding Lago Trasimeno.

    The Fortress of Castiglione del Lago guarding Lago Trasimeno.

  • San Feliciano, a sleepy fishing village on Lago Trasimeno.

    San Feliciano, a sleepy fishing village on Lago Trasimeno.

  • Perfectly preserved Greppolischieto Castle.

    Perfectly preserved Greppolischieto Castle.

  • Castiglion Fosco in Piegaro Comune.

    Castiglion Fosco in Piegaro Comune.

  • Cortona rising over the Val di Chiana in Tuscany.

    Cortona rising over the Val di Chiana in Tuscany.

  • Cortona's Piazza della Republicca.

    Cortona's Piazza della Republicca.

  • The famous vineyards of Montalcino's Brunello wine.

    The famous vineyards of Montalcino's Brunello wine.

  • The Val d'Orcia in Tuscany.

    The Val d'Orcia in Tuscany.

  • The Val d'Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape.

    The Val d'Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape.

  • Pienza, Pope Pius II Ideal City

    Pienza, Pope Pius II Ideal City


  • I don't know if I am a poetic enough writer to do justice writing about this property. Not only is there beauty to the eye in the unique, historical building, in the gorgeous views, and in the sweet village, there is also beauty for the soul in all of these elements. An experience like this is my favorite way to travel: some days my family took day trips to local sites and played tourist; other days we hung around the village, being a part of everyday community life. For the owners of this property, Colleen and Tom, this endeavor is so much more than a business; it is a passion of the heart that is evident in every detail, large and small. They are completely accessible by email, phone, or in person to share their joy and knowledge of the region, the people, and each and every logistical question you can throw their way. I traveled here with my husband and 6-year-old son, and we all found something to enjoy, and we all wished we could stay much, much longer than we were able. I can't imagine not visiting here again.

  • Wonderful accommodation in a working village with REAL Italians and few tourists. A great place to get the feel of the true Umbria away from the tourist spots. Lovely hill top villages to explore when you have had enough of lazing in/by the pool admiring the gorgeous view. No need to cook either as there are a couple of great places to eat in the village. The meat from the village butcher may just tempt you to barbeque on the terrace though as it is superb quality. Colleen and Tom couldn't be kinder and are always around in an unobtrusive way to help with queries. You won't go wrong staying with them!

  • We have been singing praises to everyone who will listen on this side of the Atlantic about our visit to L’Antica Vetreria.  We had a wonderful time in Piegaro and before we even returned to Fiumicino Airport everyone was saying that that they wanted to come back for another visit.   Our stay with you is going down as one of those fantastic vacations that will survive in family lore for many years...and generations... to come. It is a trip that our three granddaughters will be telling their children.

    My wife tells me that whenever she wants to relax, she mentally takes a tour through Piegaro. The butcher, the grocer, Luca’s wonderful meals and pasta sauce, the daily meetings of “the ladies of the Piazza,” Papina's weaving of palm fronds around wine bottles, our stunning tour of the eco-winery Castello Monte Vibiano - followed by lunch at the little family restaurant “down the road” among the farms that we would never have found without Tom’s guidance, Colleen’s fabulous tour of Assisi …and, not to be forgotten, karaoke night in the Piazza. Who knew that a village karaoke night could be so much fun. All of these things stand out in minds, but most of all we remember the warm embrace of the people of Piegaro and warm welcome and assistance that Colleen and Tom gave us throughout our time at the Villa. We all wish that we could hit restart and discover it all over again.

  • A friend and I were travelling throughout Europe this summer and our last week was booked at L'antica Vetreria in Piegaro. We fell in love with L'Antica and the lovely, quiet village. It was the perfect place to spend our last week relaxing and enjoying this beautiful area of Umbria and Tuscany. The owner, Colleen, gave us tours to nearby villages and places of interest that we would never have gone on our own. We also visited some of the more well known tourist towns but the charm was in the places not well known to the tourists. Her knowledge of the area, the culture, people and history made our stay very special. Our room was completely furnished so we shopped at the local stores and cooked several meals in but also favored the local eating establishments that had fantastic food. You must try the Pizza Colleen at Juni's restaurant...I'm sure I'll never have one as good until I can return there. We had a beautiful view from our apartment il Nido of the and valley below and the village square is just a few steps from the entrance. Colleen gave pasta making classes one day to guests which was great fun and the glass factory offered etching classes and we each brought home a treasured piece.. I can't wait to go back. It's not just a place to stay, but Colleen has endeared herself to the local people and because of that, they make you feel welcome and embrace you as part of the village. A great stay, don't miss it.
    Iris Matthewson

  • Thanks, Colleen and Tom, for renovating this lovely building in the charming town of Piegaro. It had everything we were looking for - a pool, a beautiful setting in a lovely town (with groceries and restaurants), and lodgings that are luxurious by European standards. Easily accessible from the Autostrada and within an hour to Orvieto, Siena and Florence, it made a great base for our exploring. I just wish we could have stayed longer!

  • It's been a year since we've been there, but the sense memories are so feels like a week. Colleen and Tom have created a retreat that's elegant and serene. Twenty times a day we'd witness something so simple and beautiful that we'd stop what we were doing and stare: The view of the valley, the clouds, the town, the birds, the 1000 year old interiors. This is the kind of place that when you're telling your friends about it, you'll say: "Go. Trust us. Just go. Stay as long as you can.