Dream of Italy and your mind may conjure up an array of romantic images: breathtaking landscapes of rolling hills, cypress trees, olive groves and sun-dappled villas; renaissance cities and medieval hill towns filled with history, charm and magnificent works of art; stylish Italians enjoying long lazy lunches in the company of excellent food and wine.
Cliches, perhaps, but reality does not disappoint: the countryside, old towns, cuisine and wine really are spectacular, and the Italians really do know how to live well.
Of course, as a country, Italy is far from perfect, with its stagnating economy, stultifying bureaucracy and revolving-door politics. But it is nonetheless a superb place to enjoy the better things in life. And the central region of Umbria is a caricature of the country’s best qualities. Its green beauty is heart-stopping and its meticuously preserved, slow-paced old towns – with their majestic squares, cobbled streets, elegant facades and low-key shops, bars and restaurants – are a great relief after the regular world of plastic high streets, fast food, chain stores and shopping complexes. It’s not hard to see why it has enchanted so many foreigners for so long.
ITALIAN TOWN V. COUNTRYSIDE
The hills of Umbria and neighbouring Tuscany are dotted with old farmhouses and grand villas that, over some 30 or more years, have been lovingly restored by foreigners, many of whom came on holiday, were bewitched, and stayed. The appeal of the Italian countryside remains rightly undiminished. It is the perfect choice for anyone who, like us, is looking for unspoiled beauty, tranquility and space, and is attuned to the challenges of rural living, not-to-mention those of restoring and/or maintaining a country house. If that sounds like you, take a look at the country house or the woodland project that we are selling near Città di Castello.
Countryside living is certainly not for everyone. But there is also an ‘Italian idyll’ solution for those who feel uneasy too far from ‘civilization’ but who do not want to sacrifice their desire to experience authentic Italian life: buying a property within the ancient walls of a small town. From a practical point of view, owning a town property is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a problem-free, lock-and-leave home with low maintenance needs and costs, while combining the charm and pleasure (think cultural, gustatory, social) of old-town life with the joy of having exquisite countryside on your doorstep.
Which brings us back to those cliches: falling out of bed and sauntering up to the sun-drenched square for a morning cappuccino and croissant, or wandering the cobbled streets to shop in the daily fruit and vegetable market, or being part of the great institution of the early evening ‘passeggiata‘, in which Italians don their finery to stroll around the town centre, admiring and being admired, greeting friends and enjoying a glass of cool prosecco, before heading off for a feast of a dinner.
There are few better antidotes to the stresses of modern life than getting into this rural Italian rhythm.