Whenever you book a villa online, it’s a lottery and you don’t know exactly what you getting until you arrive. The first night at Villa Carolina, I realised I had found a gem. It was the upstairs floor of a house built around ten years ago, and there were views from the terrace to the swimming pool down below. The owners lived downstairs but were absolutely not intrusive. They had left us a most generous welcome pack with bottles of the local red and white wine, olive oil, home made preserves, chutney, tomato sauce, home made bread and more.
The weekly market at Marsciano takes place on Mondays; it’s a genuine market used by the locals to do their shopping and not one set up simply to target for tourists. Despite not speaking Italian, it was easy to buy fruit and veg because the stall was self service. You just put everything marked the same price in separate bags and then the bags are weighed and you paid at the end.
We bought plums to stew for breakfast with yoghurt, tomatoes for salads, nectarines and peaches for dessert, onions, aubergines, peppers and courgette for ratatouille and a bag of garlic. There was also porchetta and buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto for easy lunches.
As it was autumn, there was a whole stall selling equipment for preserving.
Lunches are so easy to put together. It’s a case of putting everything together on a wooden board and letting everybody help themselves.
Christine Smallwood’s book, ‘An Appetite for Umbria’ led us to the restaurant L’Alchimista in Montefalco, a beautiful medieval hilltop mountain village.
It’s easy to park outside the ancient walls, (although it’s metered,) and walk in through an arch and up a shop lined hill to the piazza. We were able to sit and watch the sun go down and the sky change from blue to indigo.
The first night we chanced our luck and were walk-ins. The second night which was a Friday we booked which was a wise move as lots of people got turned away. We ate stuffed vegetables and steak and tiramasu and drunk the local wine and everything was well with the world.