Best pronounced “Oombria”, with a frown, pursed lips and that very Italian hand-gesture which is a mixture between blowing a kiss and inspecting a ripe segment of tangerine in your fingers. Ahhh the green heart of Italy. Famous for its medieval hill towns and local fare, and for being slightly less fancy than neighbouring Tuscany.
This is so much more than a gorgeous secluded pool house on a private estate in the hills of Perugia. You’re really staying there for Margarita, your wonderful diminutive hostess, who will have you cooing over her homemade bread, howling with laughter at her VERY Italian stories, and soaking in smugness as you sit at the perfect table eating the best local fare in the best local restaurants. The villa itself is wonderful, decked out from beaded door curtain to vaulted ceiling in the most wonderful 1970s design. Don’t stay anywhere else. It’s perfect.
Montone is a stunning medieval hill town balanced high on a ridge between two tributaries of the Tiber river. Like so many of Umbria’s walled cities, this “typical Italian hamlet” is barely mentioned online, but to a lumbering Brit it is basically Pompeii, before the volcano. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, the walls teeming with stories of literal centuries past. And the best bit: the Umbrian grannies who still live there open up their homes in the evening and serve you delicious local food through their windows. Think truffle strangozzi, and panzanella, and porchetta, sloshed down with wine from nearby Montefalco.
An even older, moodier, more dramatic walled city than Montone, straight out of Shakespeare; you expect to see Juliet gazing wistfully out of a window at any moment. Get there with enough time to see the gothic Consoli Palace, the knockout 16th Century paintings in Gubbio Cathedral, and to witness the sun setting and the oil lamps lighting up the cobbled streets and 100ft high walls.
Buy exclusively edibles. Particularly pecorino, honey and prociutto di norcia. Slice up the pecorino into finger-sized pieces and dip them in honey. Such a great nibble to go with your Umbrian wine when you get home. And take time picking the prociutto you like. There are hundreds. Finally, olive oil. Particularly Dante’s one. Not only is it totally delicious, but it actually makes you younger.
This is old Italian grannies cooking pasta in their homes. That’s all. Pure bliss.