Easy Drives

Assisi - home of Saint Francis

Assisi is just 20 km from Villa Candia. The city is perched on the side of a hill under Mount Subasio, and in the early morning and late evening you can often see the buildings seem to glow with a warm pink hue, due to the local stone used in their construction. Drive to the top of the city and park in Piazza Matteoni, from where it is a short walk to the central piazza and on to the Basilica.  Don't neglect to visit the church of San Damiano, located just below Assisi - it's where St. Francis spent his time, and it is easy to walk into the surrounding countryside and imagine him communing with the birds and beasts.

Perugia - not just for chocolate lovers

Perugia dates from the Etruscan times and is known for its universities, museums, churches and unbelievable examples of Italian art including works by Pietro Vannucci (Perugino) who taught Rafael. Don't miss the Palazzo dei Priori, the Fontana Maggiori, the Arco Etrusco dating from the third century BC, or the Rocca Paolina with its amazing escalators that lead from the lower town up through the remains of a 16th century fortress. But it's impossible to go down the main street (Corso Vannucci) and ignore the Perugina store where all manner of chocolates are sold, including the famous Baci and Nero brands. The Caffe di Perugia is the ideal spot for a coffee, leisurely lunch or pre-dinner drinks before heading out to the Umbrian Jazz Festival on a warm summer night. One more stop - the Perugina factory in San Sisto, south of Corciano, where you can tour the factory and enjoy discounted prices on all manner of sweets.

Gubbio - medieval hill town

Gubbio is a fascinating medieval hill town, perched  on the slopes of Mount Ingino in the Apennines. Austere in appearance, the town boasts several famous sights including the biggest outdoor Christmas tree in the world. In the Corsa dei Ceri, a spectacular run held on May 15, three colossal wooden pedestals with statues of saints are carried through the town and then raced up the hill to the church of S. Ubaldo. Gubbio is a short drive away and has some wonderful restaurants, museums and churches.

Spoleto - Festival of Two Worlds
Spoleto is a beautiful town southeast of Perugia. Its history is long and proud: the city successfully fought off Hannibal in the 3rd century BC, and was the capital of the Lombard empire in the 8th century. Visit the wonderfully preserved medieval Upper Town and the many Romanesque churches. The Spoleto Cathedral has a beautiful Duomo with Fra Lippo Lippi's last fresco cycle A short 2km walk outside town will bring  you to the medieval San Pietro church with its façade sculptures. Spoleto is perhaps best known for the Festival dei Due Mondi (Festival of Two Worlds) which lasts for three weeks and includes music, theatre and dance performances.

Cortona - a Side Trip to Tuscany

Anyone who has read Under the Tuscan Sun is familiar with Cortona. Located less than an hour from Villa Candia, Cortona is one of the twelve major Etruscan towns. It is well-preserved and has a lot to see: medieval palaces, wonderful panoramic views of the countryside (including a view of Lake Trasimeno, scene of Hannibal's ambush of the Roman army in 217 BC), and some fine restaurants. It is easy to get to by car, and close to the outlet village at Valdichiana, where you can satisfy your urge to buy Dolce e Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Guzzini, Tod's, Prada and more at a discount.

Orvieto and its Amazing Cathedral

Orvieto is situated on a dramatic hillside, rising above the vertical cliffs of tufa rock. The jewel of the city is the Orvieto Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches ever. The façade is an amazing combination of stripes of white travertine and greenish-black basalt, with stained glass windows and a huge number of sculptures. Hidden from view is the underground city with its Etruscan and medieval caves, tunnels, galleries, wells, stairs, cellars and unexpected passageways. You will need a guide to visit this labyrinth but it’s worth the time. Orvieto is, of course, known for its white wines: Orvieto and Orvieto Classico, made from Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.

Siena - Not to be Missed

Siena is a small city in Tuscany, easily reachable by car (and parking is not a problem). The center of the city is reachable only by foot. The shell-shaped  Piazza del Campo at the center of the city is a perfect place for lunch or dinner, and is also the site of the colorful horse race, Il Palio, which is held twice a year in the summer. Visit the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s City Hall for almost 800 years, to see famous frescoes on good and bad government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, and the black and white Duomo. If you are into 14th century mystics, don’t miss the house where St. Catherine of Siena was born, a few blocks from the Duomo.