The Murlo Estate, Umbria, Italy, GORGEOUS ESCAPES with Sarah Tucker
I’ve just returned from the TENUTA DI MURLO murlo estate. It’s a good two hour drive from Rome airport, or half an hour from Perugia if you fly Ryan Air
Enzo, the driver picked me up. Carrying a large card which said ‘Tucher’ – I have had so many names over the past twenty years – Ticker, Tiger, Tooler, Tusher – I quite liked Tucher. Enzo is the driver for the murlo estate, and turns the two hour drive into just over an hour. The estate itself is 6000 hectares of hillside, valley and more hillside. Driving even at speed to the destination, I did not fail to see the stunning hill top towns of San Gemini, Spoletto, Gobbio, Todi, Cortona, all of which are easily doable from the base at murlo. Five villas, with a fishing lodge, and walks which will challenge all levels of hiker, trekker or whatever they want to call themselves these days, I visited in November, when the leaves were about to turn. They were starting to drop like confetti from the trees, celebrating a hot summer, when the wine this year would be excellent. The trees seemed to laugh and applaud by turn as I walked down the pathways, which Enzo made light of on his way to my villa, El Torro.
The villas host anything from six to twelve guests and vary in price and size. They each have pools and views, Santa Croce arguably boasting the best, as it is the highest and largest, but I loved my villa mainly because I arrived at night and woke up to an overwhelmingly beautiful vista of hillside, upon hillside of forest, and hill top village. The silence is stunning, you live the quiet here. This is Italy at its best. I visited Assisi for the day and found myself musing around the narrow cobbled streets and buying a ceramic hand painted plate – broken on transit alas – and visiting the main church which had an incredible atmosphere and energy which the others seemed to lack. I found my way, almost by accident to the Eremo Carceri, which is a small monastery perched on a hillside – literally – where St Francis of Assisi lived. The monastery is beautiful but it is the walk which is mind blowing. Much has been written, sung, alliterated about Italian architecture but its willderness in the Umbrian hills is mind blowing. There is a TV with sky, but turning it on is like a impertinence to the surroundings. The birds visit, the light is primed for an artist to paint a masterpiece or at least give it a go. There’s a golf course a five minute drive away – ask Enzo – and a fishing lodge which is so beautiful I want to have one in my place in France. I just need a lake with fish. The estate has its own waterfall, and restaurant il Caldaro, which serves the rustic Umbrian cuisine – but with flair. The wine cellar is very good –you can go on wine tastings, and chocolate tastings, but I still kept coming back to the peace. And the walks. The estate provides picnics and tours of the local villages if you wish, golf days too – beware hole number eight – they all write about hole number eight - as well as yoga and pilates in your villa. Breakfast, lunch and supper will be served by silent swan-like staff who all make it look effortless. I have found my perfect outdoor break in the heart of Italy.
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