My beautiful love affair with Umbria

My beautiful love affair with Umbria is an introduction to this beautiful region giving you a guide to how to spend a luxurious week’s vacation here.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Umbria's culinary legacy
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Umbria’s culinary legacy

Quite justifiably many would equate Italy to being one of the most romantic countries in the world. A land of beauty, from landscape to architecture to food and of course the people and their style.  Gentlemans Butler plays homage to The Grand Tour where young ladies would travel to educate and develop their cultural knowledge and not forgetting one of England’s premier actresses Maggie Smith found herself in  “Our House in Umbria”

So, as we sit around the table under the large tree at the end of the garden let’s find out a little more about where Lady Charlotte is going off to, on her great adventure for Gentlemans Butler.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Urbani Tartufi enjoying the taste from truffle hunting
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Urbani Tartufi enjoying the taste from truffle hunting

This time we need to hire a classic Italian car, possibly a vintage Alfa Romeo and decide what clothes would be suitable for a week in the Italian countryside, hunting, fishing and shooting, …think Beretta

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Urbani Tartufi, the quality of culinary expertise cannot be underestimated
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Urbani Tartufi, the quality of culinary expertise cannot be underestimated

And I hear you say where is the backstory, well young kittens get your hot chocolate and afternoon nibbles ready because it’s time for a little Ancient History, little did you know that’s what I studied for A ‘level at school but enough of me, so hear we go get the orchestra to give us some big epic MGM orchestral music for “We proudly present dnnnn dnnn dunnnn “The Umbrians” ….mix through to beautiful countryside and a flowing river and cue narration …..

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The morning Autumnal mist, over a very famous bridge in Umbria... a test for you
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The morning Autumnal mist, over a very famous bridge in Umbria… a test for you

Though there is also archaeological proof of civilization dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, things really didn’t start getting lively in central Italy until the Etruscans emerged as a people: in Umbria virtually every city and town, large and small alike has traces of ancient Umbrians, Etruscans or Romans.  Umbria is named after the Umbri, an ancient tribe of peaceful pastoral people indigenous to eastern Umbria and parts of the Marches. However, the first two major tribes to share Umbria in the first millennium before Christ were the UMBRIANS and the ETRUSCANS.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Sleepy town of Torgiano
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Sleepy town of Torgiano

Although the Etruscans have received more press, the Umbri settled in the region first, as far back as 1000 BC. In the 8th c. BC Etruscans took over a large number of Umbrian settlements.

Things seriously changed in Umbria in the 3rd c. BC when the ROMANS pushed their conquest northwards. At that time Umbrians and Etruscans were content to live rather than resist Roman power and in 90 BC, Umbrians were granted full Roman citizenship.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - MUVIT Museo del Vino in Torgiano
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – MUVIT Museo del Vino in Torgiano

THE DARK AGES

After Rome fell the invasion of Barbarians (4th to 9th c. AD) brought destruction, suffering, famine and disease to the region and led to an economic and cultural decline (4). Conditions were perfect for the new Roman cult of Christianity to flourish.

The Medieval CommuneS

By 1200 most towns had become free comuni. Their imposing public buildings can be seen in almost every corner of Umbria. Many important saints (Benedict of Norcia – 6th c. – patron of Europe) had put Umbria on the mystical map, but it was in the 13th century when Umbria’s most famous son, born in one of its most famous towns – St Francis of Assisi – cemented Umbria’s reputation as a centre for spirituality, which continues to this day.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Stopping for that all important coffee in the sublime Monte Castello di Vibio
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Stopping for that all important coffee in the sublime Monte Castello di Vibio

THE PAPAL STATE  – from 16th c. until THE RISORGIMENTO when Italy became a country (1861)

Umbria was incorporated into the papal State during the 16th c. Historians of Umbrian culture like to say that time stopped in 1540.

MODERN UMBRIA

The region, whose economy was mainly based on agriculture, experienced a dramatic economic shift at the end of the 19th century with the founding of the Acciaierie di Terni, a major steelwork placed in Terni because of its abundance of electric power due to the Marmore waterfall and its secluded position.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Stylish luxury shopping in Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Stylish luxury shopping in Perugia

The present borders of Umbria were fixed in 1927, with the creation of the province of Terni and the separation of the province of Rieti, which was incorporated into Lazio. During WWII, Umbria was heavily bombed and in 1944 became a battlefield between the allied forces and the Germans retreating towards the Gothic Line. In 1946 Umbria became part of the Italian Republic.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Map of Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Map of Umbria

With thanks to Catia Melani for the history and her knowledge.

 

Lady Charlotte has put together an itinerary for you to spend a beautiful week in the region.

Day 1 – Take a mid-morning flight to Rome and pick up a vintage Italian Sports car for your luxury vacation. Drive north from Rome and check into the beautifully rustic and medieval looking Castello di Monterone hotel  which is just east of Perugia.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, looking over the rooftops on a sunny morning
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, looking over the rooftops on a sunny morning

I fell in love with the hotel instantly and though technically not 5 star it has a lot of character, charm and tranquility.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, bedroom
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, bedroom
My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, bathroom
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, bathroom

By the time you arrive it will probably be mid to late afternoon so we suggest you relax for hopefully some late afternoon sunshine and go for a walk around the grounds and enjoy an earliesh dinner

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, dinner
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, dinner

and then switch off.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, wander around the grounds
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, wander around the grounds

Day 2 –  After a leisurely breakfast head out for lunch to Torgiano. We recommend a newish local restaurant called L’U winebar cucina umbra .

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - L'U winebar cucina umbra restaurant in Torgiano
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – L’U winebar cucina umbra restaurant in Torgiano
My beautiful love affair with Umbria - L'U winebar cucina umbra restaurant in Torgiano, Olive Oil
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – L’U winebar cucina umbra restaurant in Torgiano, Olive Oil

After a leisurely lunch take a stroll through the pretty town and take in a tour of The Wine Museum.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Grape presses at The MUVIT Museo del Vino in Torgiano
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Grape presses at The MUVIT Museo del Vino in Torgiano

From Greeks to The Etruscans to The Romans and onto now discover about the culture of wine, from poetry to medicine, wine was all powering.

During the summer months, we suggest you enjoy the swimming pool, or use their sauna and book yourself a massage. In the ancient medieval castles, it was customary to allocate a quiet and sheltered wing of the garden just for the ladies. Their rose garden was created as a tribute to the women of the castle. With its 250 rose plants, from 20 varieties, it will take you on a true immersion into the floral beauty, enriched by a wonderful panorama of Perugia.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Castello di Monterone, peace and serenity with views over the rolling Umbrian hills
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Castello di Monterone, peace and serenity with views over the rolling Umbrian hills

Day 3 – Have an early start and see the morning rise. A quick stop off to Val di Narco, an agricultural community

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Val di Narco, an agricultural community
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Val di Narco, an agricultural community

which also includes the Abbazia dei Santi Felice e Mauro (or Abbey of Saints Felice and Mauro), a late-Romanesque building dating from between the 13th and the 14th centuries.

Val di Narco, Abbazia dei Santi Felice e Mauro
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Val di Narco, Abbazia dei Santi Felice e Mauro (or Abbey of Saints Felice and Mauro), a late-Romanesque building dating from between the 13th and the 14th centuries.

You can see and buy Saffron being grown which is a medicine an anti-oxidant with 150 different elements.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Val di Narco, an agricultural community creating Safron from Crocus
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Val di Narco, an agricultural community creating Safron from Crocus

Onto some late morning Truffle hunting, something the region is famous for.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Urbani Tartufi for truffle hunting
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Urbani Tartufi for truffle hunting

Stretch the legs and take in something unique whilst enjoying the beautiful scenery. The large truffles you see in the photos could sell for 800 euros each.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Urbani Tartufi, dogs loving the truffle hunting
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Urbani Tartufi, dogs loving the truffle hunting

Then into the hills where you will reach a pretty village called Collemancio.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The rolling hills, view from Collemancio is an outlying administrative division of the municipality of Cannara
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The rolling hills, view from Collemancio is an outlying administrative division of the municipality of Cannara

This is an outlying administrative division of the municipality of Cannara in the province of Perugia in the green region of Umbria. The village, with its 78 inhabitants (as at 2001), certainly is positioned in unique countryside and I really fell in love with it.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The flowers & rolling hills in Collemancio
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The flowers & rolling hills in Collemancio

Head for Il Rientro” restaurant  where since 1978 the tradition of Umbrian kitchen is continued by their chef. A relatively simple space but the food and its position reminds me a little of having lunch at the top of the mountain after skiing.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Il Rientro” restaurant Collemancio in the municipality of Cannara, famous for The Onion Festival
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Il Rientro” restaurant Collemancio in the municipality of Cannara, famous for The Onion Festival

Take a book up and find a bench for a bit r and r and just switch off ….maybe over an afternoon hot chocolate.

If you a spa goer which I am, we suggest you book in for a late afternoon detox. There are several fantastic spa’s in the region so please do contact us info@gentlemansbutler.com for more information and then retire.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The University City of Perugia with culture, history, shopping and those beautiful roofs
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The University City of Perugia with culture, history, shopping and those beautiful roofs

Day 4 – Shopping and culture in Perugia: during the Roman civil war between Mark Antony and Octavian (40 BC), the city of Perugia supported Marc Antony and was almost destroyed by Octavian, who some years later becoming Emperor Augustus had the city rebuilt and granted it the title of Augusta Perusia.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - A touch of luxury fashion shopping in Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – A touch of luxury fashion shopping in Perugia

A long period of peace followed that was disturbed only when the Romans fell from power. The region maintained or increased its prosperity: marshlands and swamps were drained and lands for agriculture were reclaimed, urban centres boasted new forums, temples and baths.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Ladies luxury fashion shopping in Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Ladies luxury fashion shopping in Perugia

We entered the capital of Umbria, Perugia through The Etruscan arch, walked up through the town to the fountain then into a magnificent room where you can get married.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Cultural Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Cultural Perugia

It has a famous language centre at the university for foreigners where some excellent short courses are held.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Perugia, look who has just got married..
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Perugia, look who has just got married..

You will need to park on the outskirts but after you have done this we recommend making a day of it with some food, culture, shopping ending with taking in an Aperitivo hour and just enjoying the chit chat and social atmosphere of Umbrians relaxing.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Aperitivo hour in Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Aperitivo hour in Perugia
My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The lovely architecture of Perugia, perfect for an evening stroll
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The lovely architecture of Perugia, perfect for an evening stroll

Day 5 – Drive to Cannara for some art and culture and an all-important coffee.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Stopping off in Cannara for some culture, Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Stopping off in Cannara for some culture, Umbria

The town famous for its art treasures St Francis talking to the birds and its Onion festival in September where around 120,000 people over 10 days will descend onto a village of 4000.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The beauty of Italian churches in Cannara, Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The beauty of Italian churches in Cannara, Umbria

Now it’s time to splash some cash and wrap oneself up in bundles of luxury.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Luxury Cashmere at the equisite Cruciani Cashmere Factory
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Luxury Cashmere at the equisite Cruciani Cashmere Factory

Stop off at Cruciani Cashmere Factory  which is a cashmere lover’s dream for some dedicated luxury shopping and discover more about their intricate lace work.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Luxury Lace at the equisite Cruciani Cashmere Factory
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Luxury Lace at the equisite Cruciani Cashmere Factory

After it time for your luxury clad self to be a thespian, expressing your inner diva.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Looking down from Monte Castello di Vibio, seemingly floating on a sea of cloud
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Looking down from Monte Castello di Vibio, seemingly floating on a sea of cloud

As you drive up the hill you will be surrounded by stunning vistas as you make your way to a place a fell in love with before I even arrived… Monte Castello di Vibio. This little 13th century village has a pretty food and wine Christmas festival starting in early December.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Monte Castello di Vibio a location worthy for a feature film
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Monte Castello di Vibio a location worthy for a feature film

But the piece de resistance is the “Teatro della Concordia”, the smallest theatre in world, seating 99 people where the likes of Gina Lollobrigida played there.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - The tiny and totally unique Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – The tiny and totally unique Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio

In 1993 the restoration completed and now they do theatre again. They have a small orchestra who sit behind and is partly volunteer run.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Auditioning for I would think The Excentric English Butler at the tiny and totally unique Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Auditioning for I would think The Excentric English Butler at the tiny and totally unique Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio

This is a must especially is it sits in the romantic Monte Castello di Vibio

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Teatro della Concordia in Monte Castello di Vibio

Eat your heart out La Scala

And talking of romance Apparitivo Romantica can be organised for couples up the tower, a stunning place for couples and weddings.

Day 6

Onto Todi with its 3 layers of wall, Etruscan, Roman and Medieval

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Beautiful flower staircases in Todi, Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Beautiful flower staircases in Todi, Umbria

In the 6th c. BC the river Tiber (Tevere in Italian) became a natural border between two areas of political control: the Umbrians to the east, the Etruscans to the west. The ancient name of Todi, Tular (“border”) remembers that.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - As always a super tasty lunch ... this time in Todi, Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – As always a super tasty lunch … this time in Todi, Umbria

Note the way people talk, apparently a great place to learn Italian because Perugia one of 2 places with very exact Italian, a perfect place to find an Italian newsreader.

Also note the way people are reflective, quiet and attached to the soil, walking tall with a connection to nature.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Its coming out of school town in Todi, Umbria
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Its coming out of school town in Todi, Umbria

No reflection needed now as its time to go upmarket and enjoy the splendours of some luxurious Italian wines. Visit the Caprai Winery  for tours, tasting and to purchase.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Wine Tasting at the fantastically run Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Wine Tasting at the fantastically run Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it

Here you will enjoy wine which are 100 % pure Grecante and has won best Italian white wine.

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Tasting the White Wines at The Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Tasting the White Wines at The Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it

In 2015 a movie called the “Duel of Wine” used this as a location.

I was particularly taken with a Sagrantino red was the which ironically was the most expensive!!

My beautiful love affair with Umbria - Tasting the Red Wines, my favourite at The Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it
My beautiful love affair with Umbria – Tasting the Red Wines, my favourite at The Caprai Winery www.arnaldocaprai.it

Day 7 – It’s time to say ciao after a week of relaxing, laughter, feeding your soul, not to mention a few surprises as well as some lovely goodies to take home. Thoroughly recommended. Personally, this would be perfect in late Spring or Autumn.

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