The trip from Florence to Umbria is always my most stressful. I have to get everyone checked out of the hotel, get their luggage loaded into the transport, and then get everyone back to the airport and the rental car offices, get the cars, get everyone in order, and then drive about 90 minutes down the Autostrada to our country house compound in Umbria.
We check out of the hotel at 11am so that gives us time for a quick trip to the San Lorenzo Market which is one of the best markets in Europe. From meats, to vegetables, to mushrooms, breads, wine, truffles, fish…..it’s endless and one of my favorite stops on the trip. How I wish we had one of these in Arizona. I would probably move in and never leave. Outside on the streets is the Saturday flea market and a great spot to load up on the gifts for the trip.
From here it’s a quick trip back to the hotel and along the way I run into my clients the Novarro’s having breakfast outside of the Savoy Hotel…..it never fails, I always bump into someone on the trip and what fun to find these two!
Pack up and get everyone checked out of the hotel, get the luggage loaded into the transport and head to the rental car office at the airport. Having a car in the city is a huge liability so picking up the cars at the airport makes it simple – two turns and we are on the Autostrada. Of course halfway to the airport one of my travelers realize they left their passport and cash in the hotel safe. No worries, we call the hotel and they have the stash on the next taxi who arrives just minutes after we do at the rental car office.
This year was the fastest and smoothest we have EVER done the transition. Checked out of the hotel and we were on the road in our cars within two hours. Not bad! We get everyone in order, give them a Google Map pin to the village near our homes, and we are off.
The drive to Umbria is beautiful as you drive south of Florence through Tuscany and turn east on the highway to Perugia and then exit at Tuoro go up the hill where we stopped for a beer and a glass of wine and enjoyed the spectacular view of Lake Trasimeno. With the nice respite we head down the backside of the hill into Umbria and the village of Mercatale where there is a nice market where we can stock up on provisions and of course jug wine for the week…. Or night as many times is the case.
With the cars stocked with luggage and groceries we make our way north of Mercatale to our dirt road that takes us up another hill about 2 kilometers to our little Umbrian paradise that we will call home for a week.
The compound consists of three homes, Casa La Pietra, Casa Carina, and Casa La Quercia all tucked in around a lovely negative edge pool nestled in the olive grove and fig trees. I love the reaction when our travelers first arrive. What a transition from the hustle and bustle of the hotel in Florence to the rustic serenity of Umbria. We also arrive as the sun is setting on the valley of Tuscany below and this year we topped it off with a light sprinkle and a double rainbow over our compound. Talk about impeccable timing.
We settle it, unpack and make our way to the main house, La Pietra, where our host, Elizabeth Wholey and her partner Paolo, prepare us an Umbrian welcome dinner of local meats, salamis, cheeses, and vegetables. It is fabulous and sets the tone for the week in the country.
The pace slows, the stress melts off you shoulders, the farmer’s jug wine begins to flow and we all laugh, tell stories, and watch the setting sun on the hills of Tuscany. We have arrived in heaven.