Hopefully the photos below will speak for the beauty of Bevagna, a village in the heart of the Vale of Umbra dating back to Roman and medieval times (and before, to the ancient Umbri).
The central piazza is a jewel of medieval architecture and the walls encircling the village date back to the medieval period. The Roman washing area is still used by the locals where they wash their clothes in the waters of the Teverone, sharing the latest gossip.
Bevagna is 40 mins by car from Villa Bastiola and well worth a day trip. Take in a couple of local cantinas (vineyards) as well, as this is the heart of the Umbrian wine growing region (Arnaldo Caprai, Antonelli, Schiacciadiavoli to name a few) and pop up to Montefalco for stunning views over the valley.
The Old Forge at Bevagna
Roman washing area Bevagna
Roman washing area Bevagna
Monte Santa Maria Tiberina has an incredibly long name for one of the tiniest hilltop towns in the Upper Tiber Valley! The photo to the left is taken from Villa Bastiola (holiday villa for rent in Umbria) and is the peak in the distance with the castle tower silhouetted against the skyline.
It’s worth a visit – just 20 minutes drive from the villa – as it has the most amazing views all over Umbria and Tuscany and there are charming cobbled streets to stroll around and a lovely restaurant and bar in the centre of the village.
The Monte (as it is locally known!) is the highest peak for miles around – wherever you go in the area you can always get your bearings from the castle which you can always see against the skyline!
Every autumn, the village comes alive when it holds the annual Festa D’Autunno or Autumn Festival. The Festival runs from around the 14th to 16th October with lots of events taking place. There are stalls selling local produce and crafts, flagthrowers, medieval processions and traditional Italian music as well as a dinner in the Castle itself (still owned and recently restored by the Bourbons of the Monte) at 9pm on the first evening with original recipes from the 1600s…!!!
It’s a great chance to join with the locals and really get a feel of how they still celebrate and maintain their ancient traditions and customs today.
Montone is a gorgeous, medieval hilltop town, just 15 minutes drive from Villa Bastiola.
Unlike many of the other small villages in the area, Montone’s medieval history is not as turbulent, coming under the control of legendary mercenry, Braccio Fortebraccio di Montone, although it did end up being annexed to the Papal States in the early 1600s like most of the other towns.
Follow the winding road up the hillside to the village at the top. There are several car parks and parking along the walls of the town. Definitely best to explore Montone by foot as that way you can get to see the gorgeous cobbled streets and beautiful architecture and really get a feel of life in Montone, plus the views are spectacular.
The central piazza is the hub of Montone and there are a couple of bars perfect for coffee, ice-creams or aperitivo while watching daily life unfold.
In Autumn, the streets of Montone come alive with the Festa del Bosco (woodland festival) with stalls and shops selling the best of Umbrian fare including hot roasted chestnuts and vino novello (the new wine!).
In summer, you can enjoy the Umbrian Film Festival when a huge screen is set up in the square and films are shown daily – it’s a wonderful atmosphere!
Stay at Villa Bastiola and enjoy a morning or afternoon trip out to Montone!
Gubbio is 30 minutes drive to the east of Villa Bastiola and is well worth a day trip. Steeped in history, this Umbrian town is incredibly old and you can see signs of its Umbri, Roman and medieval history as you walk through the town.
Called Ikuvium, it was home to the ancient Umbri (around the time of the Etruscans in Tuscany) and the ancient Eugubine bronze tablets (the only surviving example of ancient Umbrian text) can be seen in Palazzo dei Consoli on the main square.
Conquered by the Romans, the town became known as Iguvium (where today’s name of Gubbio originates) and was an incredibly important stop over point for Roman troops travelling across Italy from North to South and East to West. There is a fabulous Roman amphitheater still standing (the second largest in the world) at the foot of Monte Ingino which is worth a visit.
As with most of middle Italy, the medieval times were turbulent with the town falling under control of one mercenary and then another. A lot of the buildings still standing in Gubbio today date back to the middle ages and its worth wandering through the town just to get a feel of the architecture and history.
Take a trip to the top of Monte Ingino in the “cable car”! Hop into one of the giant dustbins and get whisked up to the top of the mountain – the views are breathtaking!!
Each year, the Gubbians celebrate their patron saint, St Ubaldo, in the race of the “Ceri”, 3 giant wooden candlesticks, which are carried by teams from each terziere (quarter) of the town in a race to the top of the mountain and in to the Basilica of St Ubaldo. It’s an incredible event and if you are lucky enough to be visiting Gubbio on 15th May, be prepared for fun!!
Stay at Villa Bastiola and take a day trip out to Gubbio with its amazing history and wonderful eating places!
Citta’ di Castello is a thriving market town in the north of Umbria, in an area known as the Upper Tiber Valley. Founded by Umbri tribes, the Romans called it Tifernum Tiberinum or Civitas Tiberina (City on the Tiber) which is the river that flows across Italy and down to Rome. During the medieval times, the city was fought over, conquered, lost and conquered several times finally falling under Papal control and becoming known as Civitas Castelli (City of the Castles) or Citta’ di Castello.
It’s interesting history is reflected in the mix of buildings and architecture throughout the town. Famous for its medieval Town Hall, round bell tower and Palazzo Vitelli (dating back to the 1400s), the town is really worth a visit.
Enjoy wandering through the cobbled streets and really getting a feel of what traditional Italian life is all about. Local shops, coffee bars, restaurants and trattorias abound and at around 6pm each day, the Corso (main street) comes alive with the locals taking their passeggiata and catching up on the days news with friends and family.
There is a market every Thursday and Saturday with a covered fruit & vegetable and fish market as well.
Citta’ di Castello is just 15 minutes from Villa Bastiola making it a perfect trip for a morning out, taking in the market and enjoying a coffee in on one of the bars on the central square or head in later for an aperitivo followed by a meal in one of the excellent restaurants.