Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 706: Brigolante Guest Apartments, La Loggetta
apartments on a farm near Assisi, Umbria
June 2002, 2 weeks
To put things in perspective, we have spent a total of 22 weeks in Italy, in May to August 2000 and June and July 2002. We only stay in apartments with cooking facilities, and have stayed in 16 different apartments in central and northern Italy. In 2000, we spent a week at Brigolante, and at that time rated it the best. In fact, we regard it as the benchmark and immediately made plans to return in 2002, for two weeks.
There are a number of factors that make Brigolante so special. If you drive to the top of Mount Subasio, you will understand why Radio Mount Subasio can be picked up on your car radio, no matter where you roam. Itís the top of this part of the world. The views are stupendous. All of central and southern Umbria, Lake Trasimeno, and parts of southeastern Tuscany are laid out before you. Hundreds of villages and towns and the patchwork quilt that supports the claim that this is ďÖthe green heart of ItalyĒ. All of the towns and villages you will visit while on your holiday. Then, if you turn to the north, the sparsely settled hills and mountains toward Gubbio, and at the base of the northern flank of Mount Subasio, just seven kilometres or so from Assisi, is heaven on a stick ... Brigolante.
O.K., so Iím getting carried away. I canít help it. How to get the message across to people that Brigolante is so different. Iíll try another angle. Imagine a day spent visiting the hill towns of Umbria, driving back to Assisi in the afternoon or evening. You drive up around the eastern end of the town, exit through the town gates, and enter this amazingly green, deep valley. It is then just a seven-kilometre drive around the flank of Mount Subasio to Brigolante, up in the national park itself. It is such a quiet retreat. Even in the hottest weather, it seemed to be cooler and the air clearer ... and ... peaceful and quiet.
Then there is Brigolante as a base. In the three weeks we have stayed at Brigolante, we have visited all of southern Umbria and parts of Marche, comfortably on day trips. Just south of Assisi is the motorway. We used it daily to get us quickly to wherever we wanted to spend the day. On the map, Norcia looked as though it would be 2 hours or more, but we were there in just over an hour, Perugia in half an hour, Spoleto in under an hour, Gubbio to the north in an hour, Todi under an hour by going west toward Perugia and then on the E45 south. And then days spent wandering the small country roads where there was little traffic and time wasnít important. It really is an ideal base for touring ... and remember, you return home to a quiet oasis.
Then there are the apartments themselves. There are three apartments, but we have only ever stayed in La Loggetta, the upstairs apartment. At the top of the stairs, the front door opens into the kitchen/dining room. An immaculately clean and well maintained kitchen with everything we needed to cook our evening meals. The bedroom is vast, with a wonderful antique bed and comfortable mattress. We always slept the sleep of the just. The bathroom ... Cheryl tried to pack it in her case to bring home. Here we have the largest shower cubicles in Italy. Telephone by the bed, washing machine and dryer in a cupboard in the bathroom, ironing board ... everything to make an extended stay comfortable.
And then ... and then ... along comes Rebecca and family. Always a warm welcome and helpful advice. Sheís there when you need her and not when you just want to sit in the garden and read a book and drink her liqueurs or the farm wine. Home made meats and pastas kept appearing, fresh eggs, honey, jam, home made soaps, olive oil, wine all there for us on arrival, and we were invited to make use of the kitchen gardens for meals. I will never forget the experience of freshly picked fava beans with pecorino picante, nor Cheryl the peas. Why even bother to cook something thatís so good fresh. If there is a better hostess in Italy, Iíll eat my hat. Thatís if there is room after all the wonderful local produce.
It must be something about the sort of people that are attracted to Brigolante, but on both occasions, we easily made friends with the other guests. Sitting in the courtyard of an evening, working our way through Rebeccaís liqueurs, we shared experiences and advise about our days adventures. We went out as a group to restaurants on occasions and even travelled together.
I feel an urge coming on ... to return to Brigolante next year.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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