No one knows for certain how long the valley from Umbertide to Perugia has been protected by the watchtower called Gudiolo. Some of the stones indicate that it has been standing since at least the 13th Century, a hundred years before Lucrezia Borgia is said to have ordered the construction of another tower across the valley. Throughout the turbulent centuries that followed, Gudiolo must have given shelter over time to all manner of refugees, exiles, and wanderers; and although Gudiolo was already in ruins by the time World War II arrived in the valley, the people from the hamlet of San Giovanni del Pantano used the woods behind it to hide when German soldiers occupied their homes. Many years ago, we asked the locals the origin of 'Gudiolo'; some surmised that it might be derived from '‘godere,' the Italian verb for 'to enjoy.' That was good enough for us; we never asked again, applying the Italian maxim of 'Se non è vero è ben trovato'.
Set in the heart of Italy, Umbria offers the ideal combination of art, history, stunning landscapes, and superb food and wine. Nearby towns throughout the region house art treasures by Piero della Francesca, Perugino, and other Renaissance masters. Florence and Rome are within two hours’ drive and Siena, Arezzo, Gubbio, Assisi and Todi can be reached in no more than an hour by car. Perugia is just 20 minutes away and offers a wealth of cultural activities that include opera and the famous Umbria Jazz festival in July. Other spectacular hilltop towns include Cortona, Corciano, and Preggio, the latter with its annual classical music festival. Montone, less than half an hour drive, attracts international crowds during the Film Festival. Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis and a World Heritage Site since 2000 should not be missed. The magnificent basilica dedicated to St. Francis and decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, has works among others by Giotto, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti.
Wine tasting sessions and tours to the various vineyards and cellars of the most important wineries in Umbria are an easy drive from the property. The beautiful hill town of Montefalco, with its vineyards of Sagrantino and Montefalco Rosso, is a paradise for wine lovers. Less than an hour drive, Montepulciano provides some of the Tuscan best.
Or else stick closer to home. Learn how to make your own gnocchi with a nonna from the village. Stables nearby offer moonlight rides to Etruscan tombs. Hikers can follow the marked trails to the summit of Monte Acuto and Tezio, both offering spectacular views of the Tiber Valley, distant Assisi, and Lake Trasimeno. For the cyclist, there are over 30 circuits in Umbria to suit any demanding sportsman. We can arrange bike rental as well as a guide / leader and support vehicle to discover the Umbrian scenery.
Five minutes away, Antognolla Golf Club caters to the elite golfer while also offering professional instructors. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, the 18 hole championship golf course provides a real challenge for professional and amateur golfers alike. The restaurant “Il Caldaro” is only a few minutes’ drive and offers local delicacies as well as handmade pizzas cooked in the original medieval oven (the best pizza north of Naples!).
Umbria is the center of the Italian cashmere industry, nearly 500 knitwear companies populate the “Cashmere Valley” around or near Lake Trasimeno, most notably is Brunello Cucinelli in Solomeo only 20 minutes away.