House and Contents: The house which originally dates from the 15th Century has been completely renovated and newly furnished by us over the last 7 years and we think we have given the house a homely Tuscan feel. The house offers an exteremely high level of comfort and style, very comfortable beds, top class bed linen,exquisite carpets, well stocked kitchen, very powerful showers and comfortable settees.Library with 500/600 books. 3 private Pergolas dotted around the gardens which will ensure that you can relax on your own when necessary. All of these pergolas have first class garden furniture.
The house is nestled amonst lush green hills and rolling countryside and offers unrivalled private and uninterrupted views of the countryside. The house is located in a nature reserve and there are many examples of magnificent eagles flying around in the thermals. It is impossible to build new houses in this region as regional authorities want this area to remain as it was for hundreds of years.
Broadband wireless internet access available throughout the house - we fought against installing this but due to pressure from younger members of the family............we gave in!
We have striven to restore the house sympathetically, in the Tuscan manner whilst at the same time giving it 21st Century facilities. Most of the house contents are handmade to the highest quality by local Tuscan artisans. You will find the essentials such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt pepper etc. etc. in the kitchen. Please feel free to use these items and if you run out just replace what you have used so that the next family to use the house can avail of the facilities.
Exclusive use of the private pool.: The 12m X 6M pool sits on the edge of a terrace overlooking the Tuscan hills just below the house. The area whilst being very close to the house is private.There is a vine pergola close by where you and your party can enjoy evening drinks watching the sun set or pick the grapes just above your head. The pool is for the exclusive and private use of guests during their stay at the house. It has a solar cover which ensures that the water temperature is very comfortable and relaxing. The area around the pool is fenced and gated to ensure the safety of little children.There is a magnicent professionally landscaped garden overlooking the pool with a colourful variety of shrubs and flowers. The pool and the area around it can be lit up at night so that you can enjoy a midnight swim if you feel like it. There is a power plug on the wall so as you swim listen to your favourite music. Cold shower by the pool for cooling down.
This area is also a wonderful vantage point to watch the sun rise in the morning and see the skies lit up with the colours only seen in Tuscany - be inspired like the renaissance painters!
Places of Interest:
Le Celle - just about 1km outside Cortona as you drive towards our house there is a little road to the left signposted to Le Celle. Le Celle is an old (still working) Franciscan monastery which appears to be carved out of the side of the mountain. It is a place of serenity, simplicity and beauty and if you can spare an hour or so to explore it you will experience peace and serenity itself.St. Francis passed through here on his way to Assisi and founded the monastery. There is a little cell where he slept and prayed and on seeing this you will appreciate what a simple uncomplicated life he led. There is a book in the library which gives the history of the monastery. There are services there on Sunday mornings and even if you are not Catholic you feel welcome in this holy place.
Cortona is a wonderful magical little place, narrow winding streets,full of restaurants,Trattoria and shops and a hugely impressive Etruscan museum which is definitely worth a visit.
There are usually open air concerts during the summer in the Piazza Signorelli (named after a famous renaissance painter who was born in Cortona) - everything from a jazz/blues band to the Carabinieri band doing their thing to operatic festivals.
The Commune di Cortona put on music/art/wine tasting/vineyard visiting festivals each year - most of these are free - details available from the Tourist office situated just inside the MAEC museum entrance in Piazza Signorelli. Cortona Antiques fair every September. Giostra del Saracino also in nearby Arezzo every September.
In fact almost every village and town in the area have their own Festa during the months of June/July/August and September.Full details of all these Festas are available from the Tourist.
Located south of Cortona in the Province of Umbria this is the 4th biggest lake in Italy and was the scene of a famous battle between the Carthiginian army of Hannibal and the Roman Legions in and around 200 BC. Hannibal defeated a much larger Roman army on the shores of this lake during his famous campaign with the elephants. Plenty of books about this in the library!
On the shores of the lake there is a little town, Castiglion del Lago. Wonderful little restaurants specialising in Umbrian food and wine and with a particular emphasis on fish dishes.
All the famous Tuscan towns such as Florence, Cortona, Siena,Pisa, San Gimignano, Montepulciano are within easy reach of the house.
Shopping: There is an excellent Coop supermarket in Camucia, the new town just below Cortona - open all day.. You will be able to do all your grocery shopping here. In addition to a vast selection of groceries and vegetables there is a fabulous meat counter, deli counter and fresh fish counter. They stock a very good selection of wine, beers and bottles of Prosecco for the wine cooler start at about €3.00.
There is also an off licence known locally as the Yellow House or Casa Gialla - yes it is painted yellow! This is just outside Camucia as you drive towards Terontola, on the left side of the road past the last roundabout. They sell a very good selection of top class wines and if you don't feel ilke spending a lot of money you can buy good locally produced box wine there.
Molesini's in Piazza Republica - The main Piazza in Cortona - If you don't feel ilke a big shop Molesini have a good selection of cheeses, meats, salamis and general groceries etc. They will make up a panini for you on the spot with whatever you want in it. Across the road the Molesini family also own an off licence with a very good selection of wines.
Pasta Fresca - Cortona - just 100 metres on the right inside Porta Colonnia - this lady makes home made pasta to die for - home made lasagne and all kinds of Italian sauces. This year she is also opening a Rosticceria in the same shop so if you want a succulent roast chicken this is the place to go. Phone numbers are in the guide in the house.
Local Shopping: There is a little shop in Portole just 3km away from the house beside Albergo Ristorante Portole where you can get the essentials if you run out.This is run in Summer months by the Hotel owners mother who comes up from Florence every year to get the air. Have a Capuchino and a panino at the tables outside with a magnificent view looking towards Lake Trasimeno.
Camucia market is held every Thursday from 8.00am to 1.00pm. Usual Italian fare everything from a needle to a rotovator!
Get a porchetta panini made up for yourself at one of the many stalls. Porchetta is a Tuscan delight - a whole pig is spit roasted , stuffed with lots of herbs. Mouth watering!
Restaurants: Cortona is full of delightful restaurants - there is a full guide to most of them in the house. Children are welcome at all restaurants.Best to book most in advance during July and August so as not to be disappointed.
Albergo Ristorante Portole just 3 km from the house also have an outside terrace for dining in Summer months.
Dinner Party at the house!
Our neighbour who is truly excellent cook will cook for your party at the house a 3/4/5 course meal which is as good if not better than most restaurants. She comes to the house, brings her own fresh ingredients from their farm and cooks the most mouth watering dishes -all served to you at the table. If you want to watch her weave her magic in the kitchen feel free to do so and she washes up afterwards! She will require a few days notice to do this and will take into account any dietary preferences of members of your group.
We have lots of other bits and pieces of information on the house, the area which we have put together over the past 10 years which we will gladly share with you.