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Review 807: Brigolante Guest Apartments, Il Focolare


Review by Dave K from NJ

apartments on a farm near Assisi, Umbria


March 4-11, 2004, One week


Brigolante is a perfect blend of culture and comfort. Nestled on a hillside 6k outside of Assisi, you may at first question your choice of this locale as you drive across two narrow bridges and then climb up a steep, narrow, gravel lane to access your piece of paradise for the next week or longer.

As we pulled into Brigolante, we were welcomed by the resident dogs, small and oh so friendly. We no sooner got out of our car than Rebecca was coming out to greet us and orient us as to where our apartment was located and where to park. We were now on a true working farm complete with sheep, cows, hens, pigs, and all the other trappings of an Umbrian family farm. For those "sheepish" about contact with livestock, have no fear ... fences and barns provide a healthy means to experience without direct contact.

The housekeeping staffers had mistakenly discarded the welcoming flowers Rebecca had placed in our apartment earlier, but we were presented with a welcome basket of farm fresh eggs and produce as well as wine, jam and honey. We also had our choice of six homemade aperitifs that reappeared from time to time for our sipping enjoyment. Rebecca as always tried to give us our space and at the same time tried to be attentive to our needs. We were welcome to come into her home for internet access and she was a wealth of information on where we could travel on our anticipated day trips.

Unlike the hotels we typically use for our lodging needs during our European travels, we were in a quiet enclave with no noise from a busy street below. Also, we typically move several times during a one or two week stay, but we were now able to truly relax, unpack, and settle into our new environment. Within a one and one-half hour driving radius, there are more than enough tourist exploration opportunities without having to worry about multiple check-ins and packing and unpacking of bags.

The selling points when we booked included location, price and quality of the accommodations based on the pictures we viewed over the internet. No false advertising here. Great care was taken to take each of the historical spaces and convert them into charming apartments. We stayed in Il Focolare complete with a wood burning fireplace, a whirlpool tub and satellite TV. A few extra euros, but the fireplace closed the deal. If you are looking for a swimming pool and an array of recreational amenities, keep looking. If you are looking for a unique agrarian experience in a peaceful environment, you need not look further.

Rebecca and her young son freely switch back and forth speaking both Italian and English. It is very comforting to know that you can communicate and get guidance from a hostess who is English speaking yet well assimilated into the Italian culture. Her in-laws who work the farm are very pleasant, but unfortunately, we have no real Italian language skills and could not communicate with them. However, we were fortunate enough to be able to enjoy Rebecca's mother-in-law's homemade pasta and flatbread.

Even though the kitchen was well equipped, we only ate in for breakfast and two or three dinners. A very short distance away were two local restaurants with a wonderful absence of tourists. The fare was very good, the wait staff very accommodating and the local wine less expensive than bottled water in a US restaurant. Our preferred restaurant that sits on the higher side of the road also has a mini store with essentials for your kitchen. A small supermarket is located just outside the walls of Assisi.

Even though our early March vacation was replete with unusually cool and wet weather, the Brigolante experience was a ray of sunshine.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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