Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2346: Le Case Gialle, Il Portico
cottage/apartments on farm near Bevagna, Umbria
April, 2006, 1 week
Le Case Gialle is a serene and beautiful estate that produces organic olive oil while providing comfortable and peaceful accomodations for visitors to Umbria. The farmhouse setting is located in the heart of Umbria, along "La Strada del Sagrantino," within the commune of Gualdo Cattaneo, not far from Bevagna and Montefalco. The area is ideal as a base for seeing all of Umbria, surrounded by beautiful countryside and convenient to everything the region has to offer. The charming and gracious proprietors are Silvana and Mauro.
I can't imagine a better location from which to see this beautiful part of Italy. You are literally in the middle of the region; set off in any direction you will soon find yourself in one of Umbria's many treasured hilltowns, surrounded by rolling, green hills and majestic mountains.
You have a choice of getting groceries and provisions at any number of nearby towns; there is a complete list of stores and hours provided by Le Case Gialle to guide you. There is a small store in Gualdo Cattaneo, a few minutes away by car, and larger markets in Bastardo and Foligno, 10-20 minutes away, respectively.
Guests are provided with a long list of recommended restaurants, and Silvana is happy to answer any questions you might have; she is refreshingly honest with her opinions.
As for morning coffee, we never left the comfort of Il Portico for a cappuccino. We were pefectly happy to enjoy our first espresso of the day from the provided moka stovetop pot, and to linger over the complimentary loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm from the ovens of a Montefalco bakery along with the International Herald Tribune. Both will appear at your doorstep each morning of your stay, except for Sundays when the IHT is not available.
The buildings are the result of renovations that took place in stages over the past eight years or so; Mauro and Silvana bought the property and renovated each building in stages. The apartment known as Il Portico is on the ground floor of a beautifully renovated farmhouse. There are two additional apartments in the building we stayed in, plus two other cottages nearby. Nonetheless, the location was entirely private, and though there were other guests in all of the apartments, we saw them only once or twice in a week.
The prize feature of Il Portico is the wide, wide private porch that overlooks Le Case Gialle's olive trees, over the hilltop and onto Montefalco in the distance. To the left you can also see Spello, twinkling against the side of Mt. Subasio.
The porch is huge, with a long, long, wooden table and two benches, perfect for dining al fresco; there are two log chairs with comfy cusions to stretch out in, pefect for relaxing and enjoying a glass of wine. As you lounge on the porch, you catch the aroma of the lush plantings of herbs and flowers that are everywhere on the property, and members of the farm menagerie will waddle by to amuse you ... a sheep here, a geese or two there, a perky rooster strutting his stuff.
There is a large and beautiful pool on the property, but since our visit was in early April, it was not yet open. The pool sits on top of a hill with a splendid view onto Montefalco and Spello. During our visit, it was being re-tiled in a very pretty shade, and Silvana told us that solar panels were being installed to heat the pool during chillier months.
The decor is that of a country farmhouse; the furniture includes an antique table and sideboard, the bedroom had a gorgeous antique armoire. The table in the main room has four chairs, and there is a TV on the sideboard. The pull-out sofa is comfortable, both as a sofa and as a bed, and there are shelves with some books, magazines, and plenty of printed material from the surrounding tourist attractions. Everything was spotlessly clean, and the tile floors are to die for. The fireplace looks nice, but I am not sure if it works.
The bed is large and very comfortable, with soft linens and pillows. There are two huge, plush blankets in the apartment which are perfect for chilly nights; we even snuggled with them on the porch. There are two closets behind curtains, one in the bedroom and one in the hallway. The bedroom had lovely double doors that opened out onto the porch; in the morning you can open them wide and from the bed enjoy the sunrise and the gorgeous view.
The bathroom was fantastic, with a large sink and a terrific, relaxing shower; in fact it is hard to resist the urge to take very, very long showers!
The kitchen is small, in a straight line, and in the same main room as the sofabed, table and chairs. Though compact, it is highly functional, with four burners and a good selection of pots. The refriegerator is under the counter but nice and deep, and there is a small freezer area for ice. There is a great moka pot for coffee, and a toster for your daily bread, knives and cutting boards. There is plenty of tableware and glasses, a corkscrew, etc.
Problems or Bonuses
Every guest gets a complimentary bottle of Montefalco Rosso, as well as a bottle of Le Case Gialle's award-winning olive oil. In addition to the daily copy of the International Herald Tribune and a still-warm loaf of freshly baked bread, Silvana also presented us some of her own honey and jam. Are these bonuses, or just some of the many delights of this charming corner of heaven? I was surprised that it would be so comfortable, and that I would feel so completely relaxed and at home so quickly. I was surprised that became so atached to Il Portico, so much so that I cried when we left.
You can also buy your own private supply of Mauro's fantastic organic olive oil, judged as the Best Organic Olive Oil in Italy by Slow Food. That is a definite bonus!
Agency and Representatives (and price)
I was so very lucky to receive my week's stay at Le Case Gialle as a graciously donated prize from Mauro and Silvana to the 2005 Slow Travel Contest. I can only comment on the prices that are listed on the website, to say that they are extremely reasonable given the quality of the accomodation. Silvana was extremly gracious and answered all of my questions by email quickly.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Oh my goodness...Not only would I stay here again (and again, and again), but I would recommend Le Case Gialle to my closest friends and most precious family members. It is overflowing with the stuff that dreams are made of.
Silvana and Mauro are absolutely wonderful hosts, both warm, friendly and funny. I feel so lucky to have met them and am ever grateful to them as well as Slow Travel for giving me the chance to experience this special place.
Things to do in this area
To do: Rent a car, of course, and you can easily reach Spello, Assisi, Perugia, Montefalco, Bevagna, Trevi, Orvieto, Todi, Spoleto. Make sure you go to Norcia, and see the Piano Grande as well - but be prepared for the crazy drive into the mountains! Umbria is full of beauty and splendor, amazing treasures of art and architecture, fantastic food and great wines. Be sure to have a meal at La Vecchia Posta in Trevi, and L'Alchimista in Montefalco, and Antica Trattoria dell'Orso in Orvieto. One week in Umbria is fine, but two would be better!
Note: As mentioned above, Stella won her stay at this property in our SlowTrav 2006 Contest.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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