An Italian Country Villa – Spend a Splendid Summer at Villa Aureli

Balconies overlooking garden

The magnificent Villa Aureli is more than an ornate Italian country villa – at its heart it is a family house.

HISTORY

Villa Aureli is run by Sperello di Serego Alighieri, who oversees what has been his childhood home and longtime family estate.  After heading off to pursue university studies, Sperello assumed ownership of the villa. Luckily for visitors, his villa – considered a historic landmark by the Italian government – and its two guesthouses are open for bookings.

Villa Aureli with Lemon Trees
Experience the essence of lemon trees at Villa Aureli

In the 1970’s me and my three sisters all left home to go different places for university. After my father’s death in 2002, I took over the villa.  A villa like this can seem difficult to deal with, but since I was born and for quite a few years before I left it has been my home. Caring for it is quite normal – like cutting my nails once a week.

– Sperello di Serego Alighieri

Villa Aureli is situated at the southern edge of the village of Castel del Piano, near Perugia in the central Italian region of Umbria. As the villa is considered a national monument adding walls and other renovations are controlled by the government making upkeep a constant battle.

While not home to the Umbria’s main historical figures – saints like Saint Francis of Assisi, Santa Chiara, and Saint Benedetto – Castel del Piano is the birthplace of composer, Luigi Cerini, who composed the hymn for the Italian police (carabinieri).

ACCOMODATIONS

Since the villa largely caters to guests from abroad longer stays are required.  For example, guests must books at least three nights in the low season, and seven nights in high season.

It was built as a house to live in, so I think it is important to keep that role, with people living in it.

– Sperello

And that is exactly what is offered to holiday goers visiting this charming Umbrian getaway.

The pool of an Italian country villa
Do not forget to take a dip in the pool!

Guests looking for array of Italian country villa options will find just that at Villa Aureli.

  • 1st floor apartment
    • Accommodates up to six people in three bedrooms including 2 bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, sitting room, sitting area, entry.
  • 2nd floor apartment
    • Accommodates up to four people in two bedrooms. Includes 1 bathroom, kitchen, dining room, lounge, hallway, gallery on the first floor and toilet on the ground floor. Two additional bedrooms can be added on request with another bathroom for up to 8 people.
  • Apartment Adolfo Ovest
    • Accommodates up to 5 people – 2 bed/2 bathroom with living room and kitchen.
  • Apartment Adolfo Est
    • Accommodates up to 4 people – 2 bed/1 bathroom with living room and kitchen.

Rest assured that each option has a private entrance and kitchens (fully equipped with dishwasher, oven, and washing machine) to make you Italian country villa vacation a dream. In addition to you will have access to the villa’s common amenities: garden, swimming pool, Wi-Fi access, and park.

THE LAND

While not always easy to maintain such a majestic villa, the important things is that was built as a house to live in.  Sperello deliberately maintains his Italian country villa to preserve that role, with people living and enjoying the splendor of the properly.

“Something like this will last well after me, so the important thing is not to reinvent the property in my image.”

– Sperello

These limitations are taken in stride however – as the property has been and continues to be designed for the future – with slight adjustments.

For centuries the estate depended on agricultural production. Nowadays, while agriculture alone cannot sustain the property, its heritage remains. There are two wine varieties – a white and a red – that are bottled and stored in the villa’s cellar. In fact, the wine production is done principally for the guests, not for international distribution.

Balconies overlooking garden
Villa Aureli from the main garden

As a result, of the the small production the product has no chemicals.  As the wine settles in your glass and your heart, be sure to turn your gaze to the landscape. For it is in the garden where enchantment awaits.

Some seventy large lemon trees line the gravel path, sweetening the air, limoncello, and delectable lemon tarts.

Rounding out the flora and fauna are the bitter orange trees – used to make marmalade – and chickens – for the freshest of eggs.

REST and RELAXATION

It is strongly recommended that you rent a car from Rome enroute to this Italian country villa. This is a positive as you can mix up your stay here by venturing into nearby towns.

Specifically, there are numerous picturesque Umbrian hilltowns nearby such as Montefalco, Spoleto, or Gubbio.

Between cooling off in the swimming pool or enjoying the Italian style garden – designed by Costanzo Batta – there is plenty to help you relax.

Stroll through the pioppi (poplars) & pini (pines) of an Italian country villa
‘pioppi’ (poplars) & ‘pini’ (pines) surrounding Villa Aureli

Beyond the garden there is a large open area where you can find sheep grazing. Outside the property there are rolling hills and countryside for long strolls before returning to the villa to enjoying dinner in a private spot taking in a long Italian summer evening in a historic ambiance.

website: www.villaaureli.it

 

 

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Casa San Gabriel – A Charming Umbrian Escape

Casa Del Gabriel pool

In 2003, expat couple Chrissie Todd and David Lang took a leap of faith and began construction on their farmhouse and casa vacanza, known as Casa San Gabriel.

Casa San Gabriel
Casa San Gabriel flora

David and Chrissie, determined for a life change, decided to take some time off to travel.  Chrissie, who had worked in finance, hails from England and David, an Australian, used to work in gold mining.

Even after traveling the world the couple was drawn to the charm of Italy.  Upon seeing the first property, after venturing into the central Italian region of Umbria, Chrissie knew she had stumbled upon the one.

“As an accountant, Chrissie wrote the business plans, which were invaluable when it came to presenting to the Italian bank manager to secure the property.”

– owner, David Lang

Fast forward to today and Chrissie and David have fully restored their 16th century farmhouse – considered to be an archeological property – into Casa San Gabriel with three rustic cottages.

The guest cottages, La Cantina, La Stalla, and Il Fienile all offer spectacular views of the peaceful valley below.

Casa San Gabriel cottage La Cantina
The ‘La Cantina’ – one of three guest cottages on Casa San Gabriel

The family also manages the neighboring Chiesa del Carmine, on behalf of their English friends, the Sinclairs.  A hidden jewel in its own right, Chiesa del Carmine accommodates guests and weddings parties in addition to serving as a working vineyard and farm.

This remodeled church has an extensive land holding, 124 hectares in total, which for Italy is quite significant.  Segmenting the property are a mix of vineyards (nearly seven hectares), olive groves (six hectares), a forest (3 hectares) that can be foraged for truffles, and a pasture that supports a thriving organic farm (30 hectares) where fireflies flicker during dusk.

Guests to either property can expect to form wonderful memories – both on and off the grounds.

“Going into the nearby towns for meals are like going into a film set, and they are full of overly helpful and friendly locals.”

Casa San Gabriel is perfectly situated as a base for days trips, as it forms a triangle with the cultural center, Perugia, and Lago Trasimeno.  The historical town of Assisi is an easy 50-minute drive to the southwest.

On the property itself guests get to explore an eclectic mix of activities.  After exploring a nearby attraction (list below), cool off in Casa San Gabriel’s pool overlooking the Umbrian hills, then take in the rural sunset while sipping homemade orangecello (recipe below) before gazing at the stars at night.

Casa San Gabriel pool
relax by the Casa San Gabriel pool

Casa San Gabriel – attractions

Monte Subasio (an hour drive to the southeast) is an option for nature lovers in search of a hike and adrenaline junkies alike; hanggliders launch from the summit.  Similarly, Monte Cucco (a 70 minute drive to the east) offers various excursions in its underground caves.

In the parks surrounding Lago Trasimeno, visitors can enjoy paths for cycling, walking, or horse back riding all set set among the Umbrian hills.

If you have kids, rest assured that the two nearby water parks, Tavernelle Water Park and Sansepolcro Water Park, are a possible activity for long summer days.

That said, the idyllic Casa San Gabriel is the main attraction – a setting seemingly from a time gone by.  When you first arrive, the owners attention to detail is evident as is their resilience, which underpinned their journey through several renovations and tough times.

Casa San Gabriel truffles
truffles can be foraged in the land surrounding Casa San Gabriel

In a world where, as David puts it, “your most effective marketing is your last stay” there have been many challenges over the years one of which was the initial renovation over a decade ago.

The recent coronavirus problems are something everyone in Italy is desperate to overcome so that life can return to normal and people can start enjoying Italy for the beautiful country it is once more.

“When we first came, effectively we only had walls and everything else was in ruins.  There was no garden of any sort and there were abandoned olive trees.  It was a matter of hacking things back, and bringing better soil in.”

Today the property is in full bloom with pergolas replete with wisteria vines and gardens abounding with lavender and other fresh herbs.  As we all search to nurture our souls after these trying times, consider an Umbrian retreat at Casa San Gabriel.  You will experience total ease, and as David puts it best, ” we are so rural that is has a profound effect of people’s minds.”

 

Casa San Gabriel – Orangecello Recipe

The owners have graciously shared their delectable orangecello (Italian orange liqueur) – a lovely counterpoint to its more famous cousin, limoncello.  Keep in mind that in Italy, 95% pure alcohol is sold at supermarkets, yet a quality grappa or vodka can be substituted.

The total distillation time takes just over three months, so get started early!  Store your orangecello in a freezer, and serve as an aperitif (pre-meal) or digestif (post-meal) alongside crêpes.

Ingredients

  • the peel of 9x large oranges (if you can find them, tarocco or Sicilian blood oranges)
  • 1 liter of alcohol – Italian markets offer 95% pure (alcool a 90°), but Italian grappa or vodka will do just fine
  • 1 liter of water
  • 1 kilo of sugar

Steps

  1. Add the orange peel to the alcohol and keep in a sealed container for 20 days.
  2. Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water.
  3. Combine the cooled syrup with the peel and alcohol mixture.  Keep for an additional 30 days in the sealed container.
  4. Filter the mixture through a nylon sieve into bottles.  Leave for 60 days.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Casa San Gabriel – general information

address:
Casa San Gabriel
Località Santa Giuliana 114, Pierantonio (PG) 06019, Italy
telephone: +39 075 9414219 or +39 338 8916641
website: www.casasangabriel.com

 

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Orvietano Rosso DOC – Head Off for Orvieto for this Opulent Red Wine

The Orvietano Rosso DOC red wine is produced in Umbria, and takes its name from the hilltop town of Orvieto.

Orvietano Rosso DOC
Umbrian town of Orvieto – namesake of Orvietano Rosso DOC

Orvietano Rosso DOC Characteristics

There are no minimum aging requirement for its production, although its vineyard where it is produced may not be elevated more than 600 meters in accordance with the regulations established by Consorzio Vino Orvieto.  It received it’s DOC status in 1998.

Throughout the course of history, the region was known for its sweet wine from the middle ages to the 20th century.

Orvietano Rosso DOC
Consorzio Vino Orvieto – governing body of Orvietano Rosso DOC

Orvietano Rosso DOC is known to have robust, ruby-red – almost purple – color and strong fruity flavors on the palate, not unlike the reds of Apulia (in the southern Italy) or of Piemonte (in northwestern Italy).

Orvietano Rosso DOC
The church, Chiesa di San Giovenale, in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy, constructed in 1004

If you are planning a trip to central Italy, then I highly recommend that you visit the following vineyards.

Orvietano Rosso DOC producers

Barberani

Rising gently among the green hills of Umbria near the gentle ripples of Lake Corbara lies Barberani.

Their estate dedicates 55 of their 100 hectares to vineyards, which started back in 1961 by Luigi and Giovanna Barberani.

Barberani prides itself in being environmentally friendly – not following aimlessly with large scale industry standardization – instead letting their unique landscape and terroir speak for itself.

Barberani
Località Cerreto, 05023 Baschi (Terni – TR), Italy
https://barberani.com/en/

Orvietano Rosso DOC
Palazzo del Popolo in Orvieto

Sergio Mottura

Follow the porcupines – the distinctive emblem of Sergio Mottura – straight to the doors of this standout vineyard.  This prickly, shy creature was chosen as their logo as its only found on healthy, unpolluted land, like the Mottura estate.

In the 1960’s, winemaker, Sergio Mottura, moved here to take over the Mottura estate. Ever since, Sergio has emphasized the region’s historical tradition of viticulture.  Fast forward several generations and he has continually garnered recognition as a master winemaker.

For instance, in 2013 Mottura was awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Gambero Rosso, Italy’s most acclaimed wine guide.

Sergio Mottura
Località Poggio della Costa 1, 01020 Civitella D’Agliano (Viterbo – VT), Italy
http://www.sergiomottura.com/en/

 

Tenuta Le Velette

Tenuta Le Velette is a historical vineyard that treasures the regions’s 3000 year history of winemaking.  It has preserved as many of the ancient structures that they could, and even uses some of the cellars from the ancient times.

In 1877, Orvieto sold the Tenuta Le Velette to the Felici brothers and the estate has been run by the family since.  It has been transformed into a vibrant summer residence and today they would love for you to come and visit their ancient grounds.

They can arrange personalized tasting on request as well as the various tours they host.

Tenuta Le Velette
Località Le Velette, 05018 Orvieto, (Terni – TR) Umbria, Italy
https://www.tenutalevelette.com/en/homepage/

 

 

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