Before you begin reading, first pour yourself a glass of proseco and toast yourself. Why? Because you have chosen to leave the road most traveled (Rome, Florence, Venice) and venture into Umbria – the green heart of Italy – where you can experience la vera Italia.
You might know which Umbrian wineries to visit and what medieval hilltop towns to tour. But where should you stay?
Certainly Umbria’s hamlets and walled cities are full of hotels. But why not try something different? Like a private villa or an agritourismo, where you can make the most of Umbria’s vistas of never-ending rolling hills? After six visits to Umbria, I’ve tried both. Here are my top two picks.
Private Villa: Fondo la Teglie
A restored 17th century farmhouse, this 5-bedroom private villa is what Italian countryside dreams are made of.
The villa itself exudes a rustic country feel but it is fully equipped with all modern amenities. There’s a marvelous kitchen, outdoor grill, and wood-burning pizza oven to please the chef(s) of your group. The master bedroom made me feel like an Italian contessa with a canopy bed and gorgeous traditional Umbrian linens.
The master bathroom with its sweeping views of the Umbrian countryside made getting ready – even just for a walk through local vineyards – a luxurious affair.
One of the things I love about Fondo la Teglie is the dilemma where to have my morning coffee. Under a canopy of wisteria overlooking a hilltop town in the distance? Under the olive trees? Or by the pool, which introduced me to an entirely different view of the Umbrian landscape. I settled on enjoying my caffé under the olive trees. Then I had lunch by the pool. And enjoyed an evening apero under the wisteria watching the full moon rise. A perfect trifecta.
So, what’s the allure of an Italian villa?
There’s something utterly magical about having all this all to yourself. It’s just you, the olive trees, the lavender and rosemary, the hills, the views, the wine, the food, and your closest friends and family living it up La Dolce Vita-style.
The gardens, orchards, and olive groves surrounding Fondo Le Teglie are bursting with colors and scents. Even the trees buzz with life. And with so many gorgeous spaces for dining al fresco, or just taking in the views, a day spent on property is a vacation in itself. Pick tomatoes from the proprietor’s orto. Or plums from her orchard. Stroll the garden path with a glass of wine in hand. Cool off in the pool. Work on your tan. Dine under the stars. And you’ll never want to leave. I didn’t.
Whatever you need is just a phone call away. The proprietor can arrange almost anything. A Vespa tour. Wine tastings. Private chef and traditional Umbrian home cooking classes with the talented Senora Dina.Tickets to Umbria Jazz. Hot air balloon rides. Even transportation by helicopter.
Getting to Fondo le Teglie is easy enough. Simply fly into Rome or Florence. Then you can arrive either directly by car or take a train to Terni. From the Terni train station, private pick-up is available.
Somethings in life – like a private villa in Umbria – are just worth it. Fondo le Teglie isn’t a place to stay. It’s a life-changing experience. La Dolce Vita at its best shared with the ones you love.
I Gergoni: Agriturismo
So, what if ten of your closest friends can’t commit to an Italian villa in Umbria? Or you love mingling with other international guests and want a more communal Italian countryside experience? Then stay at I Gergoni Agriturismo. With six luxury apartments on property, accommodating from two to six guests – each with a gorgeous kitchen and spacious private patio – county living Umbrian-style is easy to get used to.
About 90-minutes equidistant from Rome and Florence by train, you can get away with not having a car and arrange with the proprietors to pick you up from the train station, just 10 minutes away. From I Gergoni, you can easily pop into Rome, Florence, or Orvieto and be back in time to enjoy wine on your balcony as the sun sets and fireflies flicker amongst the oaks.
Private and serene or communal, if you want it to be, I loved the farm feeling to my stay. Which is what an agriturismo is all about. And if you like animals this is the place to be.
I could collect eggs or truffles. And give scratches to Gretta, the proprietors’ adorable rescue dog. One afternoon their neighbor visited bearing gifts: delicious cherries fresh from his tree, which were shared amongst guests.
Some guests come to I Gergoni with ten books and the only place they go is the pool. Others are day-trippers, leaving early in the morning and back in time for a relaxing dinner. As for me, I enjoyed a bit of both. A day trip to Montepulciano was a delight. And while staying in on property, I dipped my feet in the pool and thought about how life in Umbria – whether staying in a private villa or at an agriturismo, indeed is a bowl of cherries.
*Photos courtesy of Fondo Le Teglie and I Gergoni.
*Note: I was the guest of Fondo Le Teglie and I Gergoni but all opinions are entirely my own.