My House in Umbria
My house in Umbria: there is a film with this title starring
Maggie Smith as an ex-pat writer with a gift for hospitality, but this page is about my own position
as one half of a joint venture.
First of all: why Italy? I'm a graduate in two Modern Languages but
neither of these languages is Italian.
I visited Venice, Bordighera and Rovereto over twenty years ago, liked the
country but didn't do anything more about it. I only started learning the language
in the year before our move and life could
have been a lot easier in another European country where I would have had a
However Italy was the place I wanted to live, as noted on an
old personal website long before we made the move. It is a very beautiful
country. The light is extraordinary; its clarity gives an impression of
living inside a stained glass window. The people are for the most part
deeply civilized: humane, compassionate as well as passionate, balanced.
Then - why a house in Umbria? Why not Tuscany, Puglia, Abruzzo ...? Well,
Tuscany was too expensive, Puglia too dry and Abruzzo too remote, but really
it's just how it happened. With no intentions of a permanent move but
only, at that stage, a holiday, we found accommodation on the Internet with
a hospitable-sounding American lady on a farm in a beautiful-sounding rural spot
just outside Assisi.
We were smitten by the lushness of the countryside, the variety and
profusion of the wild flowers, the church bells,
the brief thunderstorms, the tomatoes and (in my case) the strangely
umbilical spirituality of Assisi, and wanted to stay. We viewed half a dozen
houses and after twenty-four hours to think about it put down a deposit on
one of them. We planned to let it out for a few years before we moved but then, with a rush of blood to the head, decided to move straight away.
Go to 'First Home' on the right-hand index bar to see the place we bought. Half of a villa with one of the best
views in the world over 700 square miles of valley ringed by mountains. We
can see churches, olive groves, vineyards, medieval hill-top villages, cars
like insects on the winding roads...
When we first lived there I would wake up to sun streaming into the bedroom
through the open door from the balcony and think - this is my house in
However my husband's health grew worse and he was unable to visit let alone
enjoy either the 'cantina' at the bottom of the house or the 'soffita' at
the top and the open-tread marble staircase was a trial. Also we needed
somewhere we could let our dogs roam without receiving sighting reports back
from the neighbours - amused for the most part but veiling annoyance if
their own animals' meals had been filched.
So, almost exactly a year after our first viewing of it, we committed to purchase of an eccentric 'casale' (country house) set in its
own nine hectares of wooded hills and dells, and completed the acquisition 6
months later. The place is not habitable and we are years away from being
able to live there, but it is a place to fall in love with. It has inspired
in me a desire to explore every inch of the surroundings, and a fierce loyalty
as if it were a terrestrial paradise beyond compare - which in my eyes it
A large part of this site is about the new house in Umbria.
House for sale
House in Umbria
Food and drink
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