Umbrian country house

This beautiful 400sqm, five-bedroom house near the Umbrian town of Città di Castello has been restored with great sympathy for the property’s unique character. Its secluded location and exceptional, undisturbed views down a long, green, oak-forested valley make it the perfect spot for lovers of peace, tranquility and the beauty of undisturbed nature. The house and site is likely to cast the same spell on the right person as it did on us – after many years of searching for the perfect property all over Europe, Joe – on seeing unrestored Pian della Volla for the first time – immediately called Tiffany in China, saying “I’ve found it!”.

SUMMARY

  • Location: 19 km (25 minutes by car) from Città di Castello, Umbria.
  • Altitude: 640m, in the Appenine foot-hills
  • Condition: restored
  • Property size: 2.5 hectares (4 acres)
  • Garden size: 1.5 hectares (2.5 acres)
  • House size: 400sqm, on two floors plus attic
  • Total rooms: 12
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Bathrooms: 4
  • Water: 150m deep, reliable well
  • Access: maintained white road
  • PRICE: €699,000

BACKGROUND

The central part of Pian della Volla (the house’s name has no clear meaning) is believed to have been a watchtower that dates back several hundred years. Extensions were added when it later became a farm house that seems to have played a big part in local life – over the years, many elderly neighbours and visitors from further afield have told us that they were variously born or married or used to come to parties here – until it was abandoned during Italy’s economic boom and the exodus from the countryside to the cities in the 1960s.

The house remained uninhabited until we fell in love with its dilapidated stone shell and spectacular views, and bought it in 1997. We restored the house slowly and with great love and care, wanting to retain its original character, which, to us, meant much more than just saving terracotta floors and wooden beams. Rather, it meant ensuring that numerous quirky details that had survived these 100s of years – stone arches, little niches, idiosyncratic doorways, less-than-plumb walls, oak ceilings, wooden animal stalls – and that make the house so special were not lost in the restoration process.

THE DETAILS

Location

The house is at an altitude of 700m, in the foothills of the Appenine mountains that form the spine of Italy, and a 19km (25-minute) drive along winding country roads from the historic Umbrian town of Città di Castello. It is located at the top of a long-green valley, surrounded by forest (the nearest neighbour is 2km away), and has views that truly do take your breath away. The road that winds up to the house continues on into Le Marche, just 10 minutes away. The Tuscan border is a few kilometres north of Città di Castello.

The coordinates of the house  (in decimal degrees) are 43.492485,12.390215. To view pin markers of all our properties in Google Earth, please click the Location tab. To see this property in Google Maps, please click the link..

Inside

The house is on two floors, plus one attic bedroom. The floors are old terracotta, unless otherwise stated.

The ground floor:

  • Large entrance hall with flagstone floors and ceiling
  • Spacious kitchen with central oak table built around a vertical wooden roof support and a long window giving excellent views of the garden
  • Dining room, with a similar long window looking down the green valley
  • Study, with wooden floors
  • Family room with wooden floor and built-in Austrian-style wood-burning stove that burns long and slow, heating the house from the centre out
  • Two bedrooms (one with cherry wood floor and one with cherry wood and flagstone floor) with en suite bathrooms. One bathroom is high, long and thin, built in the space of the original staircase, with a large sunken terrazzo bath
  • Utility room, cloak room, storage room

The first floor:

  • Hallway at top of staircase
  • Living room with a huge original fire place, high vaulted ceilings of original oak timber (used for ceilings before the introduction of terracotta tiles), and doorway straight onto first-floor terrace
  • 2 large double bedrooms, each with en suite bathroom
  • East-facing terrace above the dining room/ kitchen with panoramic views

Attic (accessed via a striking wrought iron and chestnut staircase from the living room):

  • 1 bedroom suitable for children and plenty of storage space behind curtains under the low eaves on each side
  • 1 balcony, in wrought iron and chestnut, looking over living room

Outside

  • A 2.5-acre (1.5-hectare) fenced garden within 4-acre (2.5-hectare) property (the rest is woodland). The house sits on the top of a knoll, and the garden is terraced (including original stone walls), with lawns on different levels to the south and southwest of the house and flower beds featuring mainly local plants
  • Stone patio immediately outside the house on the south side, and another ‘breakfast’ terrace on the east side which catches the first sun of the day
  • Outside entertaining area on a lower terrace of the garden, with a pizza oven and stone-built barbeque, and a stone and wooden gazebo and dining area that has the perfect vantage point down the spectacular valley
  • Vegetable garden – walled and fenced
  • Garden storage areas – one wooden barn and one small stone out-house
  • Oak forest. Outside the garden fence, the house is surrounded by a thriving forest, full of porcini mushrooms, truffles and a big assortment of local wildlife, including wild boar, deer and porcupines
  • Well – the house has a 150m-deep well, drilled in 2001, and always providing sufficient water for the house, even in the hottest, driest Italian summers

GALLERY

Click on photos to see larger images and to scroll through.

The exterior:

The interior:

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