This historic property on the three-way border between Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio is the perfect setting for travelers who seek the peace, aesthetics and traditions of Italian town and country. Owned and restored by a Canadian couple, La Cappella has retained its old world charm at the same time as it is fully equipped for modern convenience. With spacious living and dining areas, a gourmet kitchen, three (or four) bedrooms, three bathrooms and a grapevine-covered terrace, La Cappella easily accommodates eight people.
The Property: No one knows for certain why the house was called La Cappella (the chapel). The popular theory is that in days gone by, there was a religious structure on the site that French pilgrims used as a wayside chapel en route to Rome. Perched on a volcanic cliff with 360° views, the property is like a two-acre park—with a storybook view of a medieval castle, caves, countless mature trees, perennial rock gardens, an orchard and an old oak road. Surrounded by rich agricultural land and oak forest, the only exceptions to the silence are the sounds of cicadas, birdsong and distant hunters and their dogs. The property is a garden lover’s delight. The grapevine-covered pergola provides deep shade for lunch on the terrace. Strategically placed lanterns and garden lights create just the right ambiance for elegant dinners.
The Location: La Cappella is located twenty minutes west of Orvieto, a wondrous hilltop town with a magnificent gothic cathedral, a well-served train station and many five-star restaurants. Orvieto is also home to the internationally famous Umbria Winter Jazz Festival. The volcanic Altopiano dell’Alfina is an undiscovered zone of stunning landscapes, friendly locals, excellent food at local prices, clean air and temperate nights—and yet, it is within commuting distance of Rome. The property is five minutes from Torre Alfina (recently voted one of Italy’s 100 prettiest villages) and five minutes from the thriving market town of Acquapendente.
At the crossroads of three regions, guests can sample three famous Italian cuisines at local prices and in villages that are not tourist showcases. The zone is also host to some of Italy’s most famous vineyards: Orvieto Classico, Rosso di Montepulciano, Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino.
On the edge of a large nature reserve and within easy range of Mediterranean beaches, thermal spas and a volcanic lake, La Cappella appeals to nature lovers and sport enthusiasts. In the heart of the Alta Tuscia—rich with castles, fortresses and pilgrimage routes—the location is also ideal for Etruscan and medieval history buffs.
Why change hotels every few nights? At La Cappella, guests can take day trips to Rome, Florence, Pienza, Montepulciano, Siena, Todi or Assisi, and be home in time for dinner on the terrace and a good night’s sleep in the peaceful and refreshing Italian countryside.
The Interior: Attention to detail and loving care distinguish La Cappella from other villas: fine linens, fabulous bathrooms, antiques and pieces of art from around the world. The house has traditional terracotta floors, original stone walls and wood-beamed ceilings. All windows have screens. All bedrooms have fans. Given the altitude (500 meters) and the thick stone walls, the interior of the house stays deliciously cool all summer long. Even at the height of summer, guests need a sweater or light jacket for evenings on the terrace and are grateful for their quilts at night.
The house is spread out over three levels. The main floor includes spacious living and family rooms and a country kitchen—all of which open directly onto a large grapevine-covered terrace. The living room includes a sofa and chairs clustered around a fireplace and an upright piano. The gourmet kitchen has the full range of modern appliances and is properly equipped with stainless steel cookware, table service and linens for gourmet dining. Its natural light and size make the kitchen ideal for cooking lessons. The kitchen also includes the original wood-fired pizza oven, a table that can accommodate up to ten people, and cookbooks. Completing the main floor is a family room with sofa bed, a full bathroom with bath/shower, and a utility room with an extra sink and toilet.
The bedrooms have independent heating, screens and fans. All beds are furnished with North American-standard mattresses, fine linens and good reading lights. Il Mandorlo (The Almond Tree) is an upper bedroom with a king-sized bed (or twins), an ensuite bathroom with shower, and a view of rolling hills and the castle. Il Nocciolo (The Hazlenut Tree) is an upper bedroom with a king-sized bed (or twins), an ensuite bathroom with shower, and a view of rolling hills, the terrace and the rock garden. Il Noce (The Walnut Tree) is a two-bedroom suite on the lower level, with direct access to the garden and the orchard. One of the rooms has a queen-sized bed; the other has twin beds. The main floor bathroom with tub/shower is dedicated to the Il Noce Suite. Should a fifth bedroom be required, there is a comfortable sofa bed in the family room. The bathrooms are tastefully finished with unique tiles and modern fixtures.
Amenities: Many guests say that having access to Jude and Richard is the best part—whether it’s which train to take, how to trim an artichoke, or how not to make a brutta figura! Jude manages the rental and is on hand to help with travel planning; but her policy is to be as invisible or as helpful as guests desire. The guesthouse has its own entrance, terrace and gardens, so privacy is not an issue. Guests are greeted with a glass of prosecco, fresh local delicacies. Jude can arrange for a professional chef to cater or give cooking lessons in the comfort of the La Cappella kitchen. Weekly cleaning is included in the cost of rental.
The resident Miniature Schnauzer welcomes all children and (friendly) dogs.
Keywords: Villa, farmhouse, country living, comfort, space, quality, luxury, views, terrace, gourmet kitchen, gardens, self-catering, privacy, location, Tuscany, Umbria, wine, thermal baths, Orvieto
We are Canadians who have been resident in Italy since 1999. Rich works for the UN in Rome, and Jude travels extensively with her work in international development. We come and go between Rome and La Cappella, where we have private quarters at the back of the property. When 'home', Jude willingly plays host and helps guests with travel planning.
When our younger son went off to university in 2002, we needed a project to fill the empty nest. The restoration of La Cappella was a five-year labour of love... and the best thing we ever did.
La Cappella is located in a wondrous, green, undiscovered zone of Italy where villages are not tourist showcases, and yet it is within commuting distance of Rome, Florence and many of Italy's most famous hill-top towns. It is at the crossroads of three regional cuisines with some of Italy's famous vintages. At 500 meters, La Cappella enjoys cool, refreshing nights all summer long. The house is designed, furnished and equipped to be a home away from home. It is simply stated and simply wonderful.