Italy’s Best Kept Secret: Umbria

Like a well kept secret, the gorgeous area of Umbria lies between the more famous areas of Italy, Tuscany (Florence) and Lazio (Rome). With it’s rolling hills, olive groves, vineyards and Italian terrain Umbria boasts a beckoning, pastoral beauty that should not be missed. Our family took delight in a recent weekend retreat there. After months of being cooped up inside, due to Covid, we were so ready for our holiday. During our stay we noticed that Italy had implemented excellent health protocols but we were able to, especially, relax in Umbria as there was hardly anyone around.

We had the pleasure of staying at Casa San Gabriel in Umbertide, in Umbria Italy.  Casa San Gabriel had its beginnings when a lovely couple, David and Chrissie, were able to realize their dream and purchase an old Italian villa in Umbria to restore.

Their love and dedication to the restoration of this historic property is very obvious. No detail was overlooked as they worked to preserve the iconic features of the villa while adding all of the modern creature comforts that could be desired. 

The property consists of a beautifully restored villa where the family resides and, in addition, there are three, quaint cottages that are scattered among the oaks and lavender bushes. 

Each cottage has been given an Italian name that reflects the meaning of its prior function on the estate. Il Fienile Cottage, which was the old hayloft, has been carefully restored into a bedroom loft, an additional separate bedroom and a family area.

The former wine cellar has been remodeled into a picturesque two-story, one bedroom cottage with a patio overlooking the valley. The bathrooms have been beautifully restored with all the modern comforts of an overhead shower, big sink and mirror, etc.

The smallest cottage is a studio with a queen bed and a bath and it boasts the best view of all. All of the lovely cottages have private patios in which you can sip your wine while you relax into the sunsets of the Umbrian Valley. 

The grand, outdoor swimming pool has breathtaking views of the valley. A few vineyards are planted behind the pool and help create a relaxing ambience in which to unwind.

The cabana chairs and umbrellas, and covered cabana area make it an enjoyable place to be able to hang out all day long. Our kids could not get enough of the pool and since the property has only 3 cottages, in total, chances are you will pretty much have the pool to yourselves.

We enjoyed countless hours at the pool and it was one of the main attractions for getting away from it all, to just be able to sit by the pool and unwind, with no one else in sight. 

The owners are more than gracious. They told us we were welcome to use all the barbecue facilities, herb gardens, and amenities. We felt more than welcomed and, actually, the first night the owners and their family went to their lake house and we had the whole property to ourselves. It was incredibly peaceful and serene. We enjoyed barbecuing on the large barbecue in the spacious garden area. Our separate patio had a private barbecue area but the first night we chose to use the large, old style barbecue and our host, David, graciously explained its construction and use.

The properties are very well maintained and spic and span. They are abundantly stocked with dishes, pots, pans, bottle openers, coffee, toaster, and other essentials. We were even spoiled by David and Chrissie and had a few lovely bottles of wine waiting for us, along with some of the basics. What a delightful surprise.

The property has some beautiful walking loops that are perfect for your morning walk. Each morning, we enjoyed about a 10 km loop from the property, up over the hill, down into the valley and back. The loop has many old beautifully restored villas and cottages along the way, a constant reminder that you are in scenic Italy. 

Just a few minutes walk from Casa San Gabriel you will find a large vineyard and Chiesa del Carmine where they offer wine tasting and more. This gorgeous property is also managed by the owners and they will happily provide you with information or set you up with a wine tasting.

The gracious staff at the vineyards will guide you through a delicious and informative wine tasting paired with meats and cheeses. The property also hosts a truffle farm where you can hunt truffles or just indulge in sampling some of the most delectable truffles.

Once again, we were spoiled as David arranged a wine tasting accompanied with delightful Italian foods. Our children, who were not yet of age, were offered homemade pizza, along with a variety of soft drinks. The Sommelier was incredibly informative and gracious. We thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting and the wines were superb. The Trebbiano Spoletino was a special delight.

This property hosts weddings in their restored chapel and provides a grand Villa for guests. Cooking classes, wine tasting, and so much more are offered here and David and Chrissie will help you in setting it all up as an added bonus of staying at their property. 

If you aren’t content with just sitting by the pool all day, there is more than enough to see in the area. So many Italian towns from Periugia to Corona lie within a short distance of the property. A magnificent local golf course is only minutes away from the Villa. Lake Trasimeno is only a short drive where you can enjoy lake activities. You are in the tranquil countryside but yet so close to all the modern amenities you’d like.

One of the most magical things was watching the fireflies on their property, during the evening, with a glass of wine in hand. What a magnificent sight. It was almost like glowing flashes of Christmas lights and the estate was chock full of these little light up bugs. It was an incredible experience and a sight to see.

The property is also home to 2 delightful dogs that my kids fell in love with, instantly, and two Alpacas. Feeding the Alpacas was a first for us, but how fun for the kids to experience this, and it was so kind of the owners to make us feel like we were the recipients of 5 star hospitality.

If you are looking for a relaxing experience in Italy this is the place to be. The hosts are amazing, knowledgeable, and so kind. The property is stunning, with it’s little rock cottages with gorgeous ivy growing up the walls. It was SO quaint, so magical and so relaxing. Our experience in Umbria was delightful and one we would like to repeat soon.

A big thank you to David and Chrissie at Casa San Gabriel for hosting us. Opinions in the post are our own and based on our own personal experience.

Casa San Gabriel
Location: 06Località Santa Giuliana 114 – Pierantonio (PG) 06019
Telephone: +39 075 9414219 or +39 338 8916641
Email: chrissie@casasangabriel.com