“The summers are extraordinarily mild, and there is always a refreshing breeze, seldom high winds... The character of the country is exceedingly beautiful. Picture to yourself an immense amphitheatre, such as nature only could create. Before you lies a broad, extended plain bounded by a range of mountains, whose summits are covered with tall and ancient woods, which are stocked with all kinds of game.” Pliny the Younger
About Casa Nova
Some views of Monte Acuto and of Casa Nova before and after its restoration
Casa Nova, meaning “New House”, is a common place-name in Umbria. Of course, the main farmhouse at Casa Nova, like many of the houses so-named, is anything but new. When we restored the main farm house, we found buried deep under the brick floor a 16th century stone floor. We hope, in time, to discover more about its history in the local archives. Certainly, the nearby hamlet of Civitella can be found on Renaissance maps of the area. The Niccone valley joins Umbria, and the Upper Tiber Valley, to Tuscany, Lake Trasimeno and the Valdichiana. It is an area richly layered in history.
There are two houses on the Casa Nova estate. Il Casale (the Farm House) is an imposing traditional farmstead building, of some antiquity, which we have now at long last painstakingly restored. However, our first project here was a somewhat smaller and very beautiful house further up the hill. This got dubbed the Garden House, for its flower garden and its outlook over the estate’s orchards and fruit and vegetable plot. In Italian, we’ve called it Casa dell’Ortolano (which, strictly, translates as Gardener’s House but let’s not quibble). For more about renting either of the houses at Casa Nova, see the Rentals section of this website.
The land, some 30 acres, has been farmed organically since the late 1980s and is a haven for wildflowers and wildlife. When walking in the upper fields or woods you’re likely to find the tracks of deer or wild boar. Porcupines raid the vegetable garden. A large hare has made his home in the lower apple orchard. A hoopoe favours the rugged old pine tree in front of the farmhouse. Wild orchids grow in the fields in Spring; a bewildering array of wild mushrooms in Autumn.
At 500m above sea level, the views are breathtaking: they stop you in your tracks and demand that you take time out from whatever you’re doing to just to stand and enjoy. The distinctive conical shape of the landmark local mountain, Monte Acuto, presides over the landscape. The surrounding hills form a natural amphitheatre and are a dazzling backdrop to the small outdoor theatre which is to be found on the hillside below the farmhouse, a legacy from a past visitor who built it as an architectural project.
It is a magical place. We first saw it on a grey, drizzly March day in 2003 and fell utterly and irretrievably in love with it.
In this section you’ll find more information about the farm, its wildlife and wildflowers and the work we are doing to restore the farm to productivity (see links at top and foot of this page). Our agricultural projects have included planting a number of olive groves and a forest garden mixing wild and cultivated fruits, establishing a specialist iris nursery selling bare-root irises and creating a display garden hosting a collection of some 650 different varieties of bearded irises, as well as many other types of irises, classic roses and peonies. We (quite literally) plough the income from the two holiday rental properties on the estate back into the land. For full details on Casa dell’Ortolano (the Garden House) and Il Casale (the restored Farm House), see the Rentals section and for many more photos, see the photo-album.