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Where to go round and about Casa Nova

[click on names for driving time from Casa Nova and information]

Perugia

Perugia, the capital of Umbria, is a half hour drive from Casa Nova.  The historic centre is redolent of Medieval times: especially if you take the underground escalator up from the carpark below the walls, which takes you through now-buried Medieval streets. The Gallery has paintings by Perugino and Pintoricchio. Plenty of good shopping and a Chocolate festival.  See the Links page for more information.  From December 2006 there are direct flights from the UK (Stansted) to Perugia airport (40 mins from Casa Nova). [Museums; Festivals; Restaurants; back to map]

Towns of the Upper Tiber valley:

Umbertide

less than 15 mins from Casa Nova.  Useful for banks, market, shopping and COOP supermarket.  Overlooked by those who hurry on to better known sights nearby, Umbertide has its own charm for anyone willing to venture off the beaten track.  Magnificent altarpiece by Luca Signorelli. [Museums; Restaurants; Markets; back to map]

Cittą di Castello

less than 30 mins from Casa Nova.  Cittą di Castello was the site of some of the young Raphael’s early commissions and you can still see a beautiful, if much damaged, processional banner by him in the Pinacoteca (Art Gallery), which is housed in a frescoed Palazzo.  The walls around the historic centre remain largely complete.  Busy market and good mix of shops and restaurants. [Museums; Restaurants; Markets; back to map]

Montone

less than 30 mins from Casa Nova.  Montone claims, not wholly without justification, to be the most beautiful small town in Italy.  It is in a hilltop position looking towards the wild mountains of the Marche, to the East, and the fertile Tiber valley, to the West.  Film festival, Festa del Bosco and some exceptionally good restaurants. [Museums; Restaurants; Festivals; back to map]

Sansepolcro
less than 45 mins from Casa Nova.  Sansepolcro is a classic Tuscan town, the main street lined with Renaissance facades (and smart shops).  The Museum has a number of first class works by Piero della Francesca, including his fresco of the Resurrection. [Museums; back to map]

Other Major Umbrian towns:

Assisi
Assisi, spread out on the side of Monte Subasio, is less than 50 mins from Casa Nova. The Basilica is an extraordinary church: layer built upon layer, with the shrine of St Francis in the innermost sanctum and frescos by Cimabue, Giotto and the Lorenzetti. See the Links page for more information. [Museums; back to map]

Gubbio
40 mins from Casa Nova. Set in a landscape of extremes: where the great hulk of the mountainside behind plunges down to meet the dead flat expanse of the plain.  Somehow manages to feel harsh, chilly and remote: but perhaps that’s just the effect of the hard white stone from which it’s built.  Wolves now once again roam the forests where St Francis struck his bargain with the Wolf of Gubbio. [Museums; back to map]

Montefalco

Less than an hour from Casa Nova. Famed for its red wines and the frescoes in the Church of S. Francesco by the Florentine painter, Benozzo Gozzoli (and others). [Museums; back to map]

Spello

Less than an hour from Casa Nova. Frescoes by Pintoricchio in Capella Bella.  Narrow winding streets and old walls. [Museums; back to map]

Spoleto
Less than an hour and a half from Casa Nova. Spectacular castle and aquaduct. Good local museum.  Wonderful semi-circular apse with frescoes by Fra Filippo Lippi. Plethora of restaurants. [Museums; back to map]

Terni
Less than an hour and a half from Casa Nova. Good local museum. [Museums; back to map]

Todi
Less than an hour and a half from Casa Nova. Positioned like an eagle’s eyrie. Good local museum. [Museums; back to map]

Orvieto

An hour and a half from Casa Nova. Fragrant white wine.  The Cathedral facade is encrusted with glittering mosaic and carvings.  Inside, is a frescoed chapel by Signorelli (all classical nudes, illusionist architecture and high drama) that was a direct precursor of Michelangelo’s Sistine chapel ceiling. To view a video of the frescoes, with a narrative by Tom, click here. You can also explore Etruscan tombs or swim in the Lago di Bolsena (mineral water and black volcanic sand).[Museums; back to map]

Tuscany:

Arezzo

Less than an hour from Casa Nova. City of goldsmiths. A stunning fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca. A number of good museums. Beautiful stained glass in the penumbral cathedral.  [Museums; back to map]

Cortona

Approx 40 mins from Casa Nova. Birthplace of Luca Signorelli, a number of whose paintings can be seen in the Museum and local churches.  The steep streets keep the locals fit and explain why Signorelli’s figures always have such prominent calf muscles.  Now hosts the Under the Tuscan Sun festival, inspired by the film of that name (but don’t let that put you off). [Museums; Festivals; back to map]

Florence
Under two hours from Casa Nova.  Airport on the West side of the City.  Florence has so much art and beautiful architecture that you run the risk of Stendhal syndrome: a state of nervous collapse brought on by an excess of sight-seeing.  Chill out with an icecream from Vivoli’s, quite possibly the best in the world.  See the Links page for more information about Florence.  [back to map]

Siena

Just over an hour from Casa Nova.  The shell-shaped central piazza is perhaps the most beautiful in Italy and the slope invites you to sit down and linger over a gelato or a slice of the local panforte.  Site of the Palio: a bareback horse race amidst Medieval pageantry and very real present-day rivalry. Inlaid marble pavements and Pintoricchio frescos in the Cathedral and some real highlights in the Art Gallery and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. [back to map]

Lucca

Approx 2 and a half hours from Casa Nova. Impressive ramparts surrounding classic Tuscan streets: a bit like Florence without the crowds. [back to map]

Montepulciano

An hour from Casa Nova. Renowned for its red wines and a festival involving folk sprinting while carrying barrels. [back to map]

Pienza

An hour from Casa Nova. Planned as the perfect Renaissance town by Pope Pius II, Pienza seems more a beautiful theatrical backdrop than a real town.  Buy some pecorino cheese made from the milk of the sheep who graze the surrounding hills.[back to map]

Monteoliveto
An hour from Casa Nova. This monastery in the hills South East of Siena is enough to turn most of us into monks: elegant buildings of sun-warmed red brick set amongst classic Tuscan country-side of olives and cypresses.  The cloister has a fresco cycle of the life of St Benedict by Signorelli (and Il Sodoma) which shows the artist’s acute colour sense and inventiveness in story-telling. [back to map]

Pisa
Under 3 hours from Casa Nova. Take that photo, propping up the leaning tower. Airport. [back to map]

The Marche:

Ancona (not shown on this map)

2 hours from Casa Nova. Town itself quite damaged by wartime bombing but Monte Conero, just next to Ancona, offers the nicest stretch of coastline in the Marche and a decent red wine.

Urbino

Under two hours from Casa Nova.  Birthplace of Raphael.  The Ducal palace is a magical fairytale building and a treasure trove of art, in particular Piero della Francesca’s mysterious/mystical/mystifying painting of the Flagellation. [back to map]

Rimini
Three hours from Casa Nova.  Adriatic coast.  Visit Alberti’s splendid “Tempio Malatestiano”. [back to map]

Other Major cities of Central Italy:

Bologna

Two and a half hours from Casa Nova.  Red Bologna: ancient University, colonnaded streets, Communist politics.  Also known as “La Grassa” (Fat Bologna) for its fantastic food.  Bologna has two airports, one in Bologna itself and the other in Forli, half an hour South of Bologna and under 2 hours from Casa Nova. [back to map]

Rome

Three hours from Casa Nova.  Everything you ever dreamt it would be and more: the shopkeepers are ruder, the fountains more numerous, the traffic more terrifying, and the forum more of a ruin than you would have believed and yet it is glorious.  Two airports, both on the South side of the city (take the ring road around to the North to reach the A1). [back to map]

In addition, if you are considering dividing your time between Casa Nova and another area you might want to consider these possibilities:

  • combine a holiday at Casa Nova with some time at the seaside: this is easily done either by flying in or out of Ancona and adding some days on the unspoilt Monte Conero coastline there (we stayed in a converted monastery on top of the mountain, Hotel Monte Conero, which had great views across the coast, even if in some respects it was a little bland) or by taking the direct flight from Perugia to Trapani in Sicily (we really liked this hotel, with its roof top terrace looking Westward out to sea, Residence La Gancia).
  • combine a holiday at Casa Nova with some time hiking in the Monte Sibillini (try the campsite at Balzo or this charming little B&B, Casa Girasole, where we stayed and were given a hearty breakfast with home made jams before climbing Monte Vettore, the highest peak in the Central Appenines).

 

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