The Chiana Valley (Val di Chiana) marks the natural boundary between Umbria and Tuscany, a long green valley enclosing hills and villages of extraordinary beauty. Among these hills rich in olive trees, we have chosen the holiday farm Borgo Giorgione to spend a special weekend, tucked away in nature in Monteleone d’Orvieto, just a 5 minute drive from Città della Pieve.
It is kind of a cottage with a park and a pool, in a small hamlet composed of three historic buildings completely renovated preserving the rural style but tastefully furnished with a mix of modern and country style. Four flats of large dimensions which can accommodate 4 to 6 people, perfect for a family or even for a group of families wanting to share a holiday through these magic hills while preserving their privacy. There is a fenced parkland surrounding the facility and a large pool with hydromassage tub allowing you to relax, maybe while the children are playing in water.
What to do on a weekend in a holiday farm between Umbria and Tuscany
A visit to the little and surprising Monteleone d’Orvieto
The holiday farm Borgo Giorgione is situated not far from the historic centre of a peculiar village such as Monteleone, which is the first destination of our weekend of discovery, which starts with a bang by letting us be amazed by this little but extraordinary village. The entrance of Monteleone d’Orvieto lies below what once probably was one of the towers of the original fortress, serving as gate. The hamlet develops along the ridge of a hill, thus the village takes a narrow and lengthened shape with its houses giving onto the two main roads.
This village is a little gem, with the typical calm of small villages, with few cars, and the red brick ancient houses in line, crossed by side passages with barrel vaults. Walking through the centre of the village we can inhale the atmosphere of bygone times, also while peeping inside the churches giving onto the main road; you should not miss out on that of Saints Peter and Paul which includes a painting made by a pupil of the School of Perugino, and the crypt containing the relics of Saint Theodore, just below the high altar. Passing through Piazza Cavour, where lies a picturesque central well, and through Piazza Bilancini, onto which the Town Hall gives, we reach Piazza del Torrione, a wonderful hillock with a breathtaking view, overlooking the three regions of Umbria, Lazio and Tuscany, in addition to the gorgeous Chiana Valley.
The small local museum inside the church of Saint Anthony preserves important manuscripts and valuable objects and paintings; it is possible to contact the Pro Loco (local association promoting tourism) to arrange a visit. On the way out of the village a stop at the Chiesa del Crocifisso (Church of the Crucified) is also worth, at the base of the road that leads to the historic centre. Monteleone d’Orvieto is a small village but it transmits an enchanting sense of peace and authenticity. If you visit it with your children, they will appreciate its prevailing aspect of fortified village and its passages which resemble those of castles, and besides, its dimensions are really small so it can be visited with no efforts, even with strollers if you like.
For our lunch we have relied on the Bar Seven, which is much more than you would expect from its name. It is a pretty place where you can eat pizza or an excellent first course; the “umbricelli” (kind of handmade spaghetti) with ceps and fresh cherry tomatoes are fantastic. Very good brioches for having breakfast as well!
Letting Città della Pieve amaze you
Here is where the TV series Carabinieri was set, in a typical village of the Italian countryside and one of the most beautiful Italian villages; you can reach it with a ten minute drive from Borgo Giorgione, our gorgeous accommodation in Umbria. When you look at this village from the valley, it already stands out for its beauty, with its church towers and red brick towers making a fine show on the ridge of the hill.
A walk through the historic centre is a journey through time. The houses made with red bricks mixed with stone, the narrow streets with arches allowing the buildings to lean against each other, the signs of ancient doors and windows replaced by new openings over the course of time, and then the rock and the cathedral with its high tower. Even when visiting in the evening, like we have done, the charm is remarkable, especially when walking through the “terzieri” (name used for quarters in Italian towns divided in three quarters, according to the medieval tradition) and passing through a narrow lane, there beyond a little grilled window you can see hams hanging in the cellar of a restaurant, making a fine show and almost representing a vision that made us feel peckish, considering what time it was. And then the narrowest Italian alley and the fascination of a place that has seen history flowing by, from the Etruscans onwards.
For our evening meal we have entered one of the sanctuaries of taste in Città della Pieve, the Trattoria Bruno Coppetta. The speciality is barbecued Chianina beef, but you can’t miss also the hors d’oeuvres with local salami and cold cooked meats, the first courses such as risotto or homemade pasta, the special “pici” (a type of handmade pasta) with cheese and pepper, the side dishes with vegetables in season and the inevitable dessert. While you are tasting the beef, whether it is fillet or sliced, you may want to accompany it with the “ciaccino”, a really exquisite thin focaccia, and naturally with a glass of local red wine. The room on the first floor is extraordinary, you remain enchanted at the decorated ceiling; this place is a delight for the eyes and the palate as well! For children, or for those who are on a diet, it is also possible to ask for a half portion.
Relax at the thermal baths of San Casciano dei Bagni
Starting from our holiday farm, we go through the Chiana Valley and we climb the hills of Tuscany, direction thermal baths of Fonteverde in San Casciano dei Bagni, where we go to relax in the baths with thermal water at 38°C. The rows of cypresses mark the territory, and after passing before the beautiful San Casciano with its charming castle we easily reach the thermal baths.
It is possible to enter also with children and the large external pool is the main attraction. An internal wall with a hot waterfall, the submerged benches where you can relax, and the pool where you can swim and enjoy the benefits of thermal water at an extraordinary temperature. There are beach beds for relaxation and a small internal pool, but we feel well even outside, actually the difference between the heat on the body part immersed in water and the fresh sensation on the face is really pleasing, and it can be really enjoyed even in an intermediate season just like we have experienced.
It is possible to stay at the thermal baths even just for a couple of hours and there are also wellness courses. On request it is possible to have the kit composed of bathrobe, towel and slippers. However you have to bring your own bathing suit; we forgot ours but we were able to purchase new ones at the shop on the first floor.
On our way back towards our accommodation at Borgo Giorgione, we have stopped at the Ristorante da Nilo near the Tiglio di Piazza in the beautiful Cetona. It gives onto the main square of the village and it’s a place where you can taste the typical local dishes within a refined environment. Typical hors d’oeuvres of Tuscany, first-class first courses, and then we have tasted the pappardelle and the second courses with the best local meats.
A hamlet among the most beautiful hamlets
You feel well at Borgo Giorgione (more info). There is silence, or better there are the sounds of nature, the green of the garden, a magnificent tranquillity. The flats represent a separate experience, large enough so that everyone can enjoy their own spaces, warm and cosy like only true cottages can be. It is a perfect starting point to discover the region, and you can easily reach also Orvieto or Perugia, but it’s also a shelter where you can regenerate and start again, for a weekend but also for a few days more.
An extraordinary weekend in a holiday farm amid the hills of Umbria and Tuscany. The nex one will be Andalo in the Alps.