My first trip post Lockdown took me to Italy, where I spent 10 days visiting Florence, Rome, Umbria, Tuscany, and Venice. The first five days were spent in the cities before we retreated into the beautiful countryside. Our first stop was Umbria, where we spent a couple of nights at the most incredible place… Villa Capanne.
Sitting on the top of the Antognolla Valley, in Northern Umbria, Villa Capanne is a 600 year old farmhouse, which has been carefully restored to retain its original charm. The property is nestled on the edge of the Antognolla Estate, with beautiful views over the golf course and rolling hills. Though part of an estate, you really do feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere; any neighbours are a mere dot on the horizon and you’re far enough away from the golf course not to be a target!
Villa Capanne sleeps eight people, however there’s also a second house adjacent to it, called Capannetta, a cottage which has two further bedrooms. It offers many of the same features of the main house but everything’s just a little more modest in size. It’s perfect for families with children, who want to sleep separately from the rest of the group, or even those who may want to escape for a little peace.
Inside, the house is beautifully decorated – you can tell the owners (Chrissie and David) have really tried to keep the original character. While ceilings are high, some of the original beams have been left in place and though it’s a huge property, it feels cosy, lived in. The kitchen is equipped with everything you’d need, from dinner parties to BBQs. There’s even a games room with table tennis, pool and a variety of different board games. The dining room and sitting room are combined in one large open space, but it’s the great fireplace that is the standout feature of this room – even unlit. Outside, there’s an infinity pool, as well as a huge BBQ area that’s made for entertaining, and plenty of garden space and furniture.
Being in such a remote place, I’d recommend hitting the supermarket in the local town before heading to the Villa, especially when it’s equipped with such wonderful cooking areas. As we were staying at Villa Capanne for a review for a London lifestyle magazine, the owners very kindly provided us with some food to cook on the BBQ for our two-night stay, most of which was was grown locally. I even picked my own lettuce and we made an apple, sage and rosemary compote, using ingredients we foraged from the gardens of Villa Capanne (that’s what’s cooking in the pans above). There are fig trees too and rows of fresh herbs, which for two people that love to cook, was an absolute win!
Sometimes you may want a night off the kitchen, the owners will happily organise a chef to come in and cook for you but there are also a few local spots you can head to, including restaurant La Boiola, which is on the golf estate. One afternoon (after a hot 30km bike ride in the hills), we took a stroll through the winding golf course to the restaurant for lunch, and it really did surpass our expectations! Food was incredibly fresh and generous in portions (this is very important to me. I like food. And I eat a lot.) and there’s even a head sommelier, who helped us select a bottle of wine.
It’s recommended that you have a car when visiting Villa Capanne, because although there is plenty to do right on your doorstep, getting around by bike can be quite the challenge… as we found out. However, if you do want to rent bikes, then a lovely local man named Giovanni will deliver them to you for a small charge. He has everything from road bikes to mountain bikes and even e-bikes, and will also supply you with helmets, puncture repair kits and locks, as well as a whole selection of different routes to take. We had a great day out exploring the local trails, climbing to the tallest peaks. There’s also plenty of walking trails for those who prefer to hike or even run!
Vineria del Carmine – a must visit!
If riding bikes in 30 degree heat isn’t your idea of fun, then just down the road is Vineria del Carmine, a beautiful vineyard no more than 10 minutes from the property. This is also looked after by the owners of Villa Capanne, who are still restoring it from its original 16th century structure. That said, it’s fully open for visitors, offering wine and food tastings, taken by the brilliant head sommelier, Mattia. We had a brilliant time learning about the local grapes, how the wines are made and of course, tasting them. And we really liked the food pairings: locally farmed cheeses, cured meats, homemade olive oil and truffle – lots of truffle – which they grow and collect locally too.
We had an absolutely wonderful stay at Villa Capanne, and I can’t thank David and Chrissie enough for being such incredible hosts. Since greeting us at the station when we arrived, they were never more than a phone call away, helping us with even the most trivial of things… like changing the gas for the BBQ or how to open the main gate. We are incredibly grateful to them for letting us have run of the amazing Villa for a couple of nights, it was a complete luxury – we’re already planning our return trip.
San Giovanni del Pantano,
CAP: 06133 Italy
+39 075 9414219 or +39 338 8916641