A Perfect Home Business Breakaway
A Perfect Home Business Breakaway
Italy is an exotic land of castle towns, fishing villages, rolling hills with hidden medieval towns and lush olive and wine valleys.
The area is breathtaking ....Tuscany must be one of the prettiest parts of Italy combining rolling hills, warm lush valleys and many massively pretty and historic towns.
You’d never tire of seeing it and driving through it. Full of rural landscapes, small villages and colourful locals.
After surviving the Ryanair chokka flight and leaving behind Perugia we headed north towards Arezzo and Caprese Michelangelo.
We also left behind the crowds and headed into the lush wooded hills of Umbria and ambled into the breath-taking beauty of Tuscany which is classically evocative of thousands of classic landscapes of Italy.
Rita really put her Italian roots and years of experience as a tour guide to good use when she (and hubby Mike) bought 17th century farmhouse Villa Radicata.
Rita’s directions to the Villa are spot on – apart from the final turn – which is hidden by a busy hedge overgrown through summer. A steady nerve is needed on the pretty climb to the villa.
Radicata welcomed us with a picturesque backdrop of medieval hill towns, rows of cypress trees hiding welcoming stone farmhouses all around and many set amidst their own olive groves.
This beautiful Villa is more like your own personal holiday home in Tuscany. The traditional restored farmhouse with stunning lake and hill views is perfect for a stress free, relaxing family holiday overlooking terraces of vines that contour the hills and open fields.
What really impressed us was that Radicata didn’t feel like a villa you have just hired.
Bookcases stuffed with books and magazines abound.Personalised little items dotted the kitchen mantle such as half used bottles of olive oil and coffee left for the next guests to share. Well-used pans hung from the kitchen ceiling. Many other useful items stocked or left by previous guests – cleaning materials etc – which encourages you to do the same!
The lovely old stone house is surrounded by a few acres of private gardens and with its own private swimming pool giving fabulous, open views over the Tuscan countryside. And well shaded to hide you from the hottest times of the year.
Many original features such as chestnut beams and terracotta floors throughout the villa punch their weight to remind you of that lovely Italian feeling. There are several patios and a lovely pergola around the house making it a perfect house for a large group.
And it comes gift wrapped with this fabulous view of Lake Montedoglio.
Our first day dawned after a hugely restful sleep on a surprisingly good bed – most travel places we’ve experienced amazingly enough don’t offer excellent mattresses.
Yet Radicata surprised us with a great bed which left us getting a pretty packed night of sleep every night. Helped along by the traditional window shutters which blocked out all early morning snoozing knowledge that day had actually broken and we should be getting up.
Still now as I write this I yearn for that sensation of languishing under the covers in which we thought was pre-dawn hours but was actually the start of any start-up entrepreneur's day.
When in Italy eat like Italians, so each day we breakfasted al fresco with crusty rolls, local hams and salami and abundance of delish cheeses.
Then we spent most of our days resting and reading and managed to get through about three books each.
The villa has generous villa and garden space that allows plenty of freedom and many different mini environments to chill and or think or work.
Lack of broadband can be a big positive – it encourages new pursuits and keeps the mind nicely offline!
Bikes are on hand or at your feet for those who think they can beat the Tuscany hills (impossible! There are too many of them! Yet Ken took on the challenge ... and returned soaked after an hour of bombing around the local area, up steep hills and down olive groves – all with the mozzies catching in his hair. A hop in the pool soon cooled him down.
But we did venture out of our secret Tuscan domain and down the hill to a few scenic spots.
The villa is near a small village with a supermarket and pizzeria and just 15 mins from Anghiari, a pretty, medieval hilltop town. It is also within easy reach of the larger town of San Sepolcro (20 mins).
The area is very unspoiled and much less touristy than most other areas of Tuscany. The locals are very welcoming and there are so many small undiscovered villages close by. The restaurants are fantastic and very reasonably priced.
In Anghiari (pronounced Ann-gee-ha-ree) we strolled around the ancient 12th century city completely enthralled by the endless views across the Tiber Valley.
It is surrounded by locals and tourists having an ‘apertivo’ at outdoor tables having animated conversations. Stalls brimming with pancetta, cured hams, dried porcini and ageing cheeses.
We dined on pizza stuffed with local meats such as pepperoni and parma ham and laced with the most incredible tasting Porcini mushrooms and drizzled with Gorgonzola cheese. The ravioli stuffed with truffles and pesto was out of this world and crème brulee was probably the best I’ve ever tasted with the usually hot crusty topping but the custard was the richest velvet cream to die for!
There are nearby food festivals such as the truffle festival in Citta di castello, the funghi porcini festival and the chocolate festival in Perugia.
And you could catch the boar hunting season where you get to see lots of boars along the road down to the house.
More local visits: Assisi, home of st Francis, Cortona (which is the setting of book 'Bella Tuscany'), the beaches of Rimini (just over an hour away) and of course Florence and Siena.
I suspect that most guests wouldn't wonder too far as they just want to relax and Anghiari, Arezzo and San Sepolcro are so beautiful.
Villa Radicata is also close to the famous birthplace of Michelangelo. Even though Buca del Michelangelo at Caprese Michelangelo are normally booked up for weeks in advance for their fabulous set Sunday Lunch – all 14 courses! – it is great to have an insider on board as Rita managed to squeeze us a table with her friends the owners.
By the way if you decide to go this route and book this restaurant - don't, I repeat, don't eat anything at all before you go, not even a bite of toast. You leave feeling like a stuffed boar!
Caprese is famous for being the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarroti, who was born there in 1475 when his father was mayor. His home is today a museum set in the hilltop fortification of old Caprese. Caprese is also famed for its chestnut cultivation, hosting over two weekends each year in October a large festival of the chestnut.
While it wasn’t the hottest time of year we couldn’t resist the urge to jump in the very clean pool beside the lounging poolside area set high above the ample tree garden and stoned patio courtyard.
Yikes – that was cold, but when our numb bodies acclimatised to the temperature it was pretty exhilarating and most certainly got the blood pumping!
As well as renting the whole Villa Radicata offers 3 types of breaks including Yoga and cooking, Family Fitness Breaks and Bella Mamma breaks.
Villa features five double rooms all with cots. Three of them are en-suite and the others have a shared bathroom. The swimming pool overlooks the stunning Tuscan countryside.
The villa sleeps 10, in a variety of double and single beds, with baby equipment all present, along with lots of baby friendly items such as highchairs and little people cutlery and crockery. And each room has a cot – not that we needed any as our lads are all grown up and flown the nest.
We would have loved to partake of the cookery course had we booked that trip. Find out more.
The people are just about the friendliest locals we’ve ever encountered. Very happy and friendly and prepared to use what English they have rather than expect all the effort to come from you.
Villa Radicata is available for private hire from around 1800 euros per week - great value when you consider it homes 10 people plus toddlers - a right old family holiday-fest! This also includes linen and towels so you don’t have to cart all of that stuff with you.
Mike and Rita offer weekly rentals, cooking courses, olive picking holidays and yoga and fitness breaks.
A brilliant location to relax on your own or with friend or family member. A week is a bare minimum if you want to absorb the villa and the area’s full benefits – we would definitely suggest at least two!
Radicata has something for everyone and everyone leaves with some special little part of Italy embedded in their hearts!