We travel north from Rome to the undiluted beauty of the northern Lazio region along the border of Tuscany and Umbria, home to an enchanting village built on the peak of an extinct volcano and dating back over 2,700 years.
We’ll stay in a 12th century castle whose 1000-year-old watchtower overlooks a verdant wooded valley and Mt. Amiata. This lovingly restored castle has been in the owner's family since the 16th century.
Our time takes us to the idyllic hilltop towns visiting palazzo’s, browsing in artisan shops, and tasting the local wines and seasonal cuisine. We’ll amble through the ancient towns deeply rich in their own ancient history. We'll stand in Etruscan tombs carved into tufa rock by a civilization that lived between the 7th and 1st centuries B.C.
Our time together is spent living life locally. Having lunch in a friends' kitchen that was once an Etruscan cave, tasting wine from a friend's boutique vineyard, grabbing a snack in local grocery while he teaches you a few Italian words, and dining in restaurants that feels more like your grandmother's kitchen.
Our agenda is relaxed and flexible, and the itinerary reflects the possibilities open to us.
Day 1 ... Arrive in Rome and drive to the castle. Take time to unpack and settle in. Explore the castle grounds or stroll the cobblestone streets of your home away from home for the next week. Join everyone in the castle’s enoteca (wine bar) for a special welcome dinner cooked and served by our hosts.
Day 2 ... This morning we tie on our aprons and head into the owner's private for a traditional cooking lesson to learn the secret to a perfect Tiramisu and how real Italian women make pasta. Afterwards, we'll head over to a hilltop town for lunch and wine tasting in the town's 14th century fortress. There's time to stroll through town explore the shops and do a little more wine tasting. Next we stop by a boutique vineyard to taste some of the region's famed Brunello wine. Dinner is at the castle where we'll savor the fruits of our morning labor.
Day 3 ... It's market day in a lakeside town that is home to one of Italy’s largest lakes formed over 370,000 years ago by volcanic eruption. Let yourself be swept up in the town’s charm as you meander through the labyrinth style streets onto the main corso lined with shops. We’ll have lunch at a charming restaurant resting over the lake. After lunch, we head to a hilltop village that teeters atop a crest rising high above a vast canyon accessed only by a pedestrian foot bridge. Admire the ivy-clad arches, crooked cobblestoned lanes, and sun-flooded piazzas where the town's handful of residents gather. Take a moment to step into the 7th century church that was once a Roman temple and before that, an Etruscan temple whose ancient pillars are still standing. Dinner is fireside at the castle.
Day 4 ... We head a north to a medieval city that sits over three hills with its heart center being a huge piazza where the Roman forum used to be. We'll have lunch here, explore the town, and see the incredible cathedral. Making our way back, we'll stop in a quaint village (population 36) to soak our feet in ancient thermal baths before dinner.
Day 5 …We start the day by heading north to a small town set on a ridge, surrounded by rolling hills and full of Renaissance style. The culinary focal point here is Pecorino, a sheep's cheese which can be found at almost any shop. A must try is the pecorino with truffles! There are plenty of great shops for finding that perfect gift for yourself. We'll have lunch at a local trattoria. Next, it's over the hills to a town that rests atop a narrow chalky hill where the Val d'Orcia and Val di Chiana meet. This beautiful medieval village sits in what seems like a postcard-perfect landscape. No matter which direction you look you'll see green waves of hills and golden fields dotted with cypress trees. We'll take a quick stop at a friend's agriturismo to say hello and sample their organic olive oil, then head into the town for exploring, shopping, and dinner.
Day 6 … After breakfast, we’ll drive into the Umbrian region to a tufa throned Etruscan town. Stopping first at a vineyard to sample their wine and visit the Etruscan cellars which are still in use. Then off to see town's Duomo, a masterpiece of gothic architecture dating back to 1263, and tour the 9th Century B.C. caves under the city’s streets. Take a rest at an Italian bar (coffee shop) for a little people watching. It's traditional Umbrian cuisine for lunch, and if it's open, we'll pop across the street for some incredible pastries and a visit to some private Etruscan tunnels. Spend the rest of the afternoon wandering the delightful streets. Dinner tonight at the castle.
Day 7... This day offers a special lunch in converted Etruscan cliffside home that overlooks a medieval village. Our hostess whips up typical regional cuisine using vegetables and herbs from her gardens. The incredible smell of something roasting in the wood stove will have you running the the lovely lunch table set under a kiwi pergola. After lunch, we'll head over to a small town home of Etruscan tombs (necropoli). We'll take the traditional evening stroll (passiagiata) before having dinner in an Etruscan cave.
Day 8 ... Early morning departures for the airport.
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