The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

The choice is infinite and it’s all yours.  Depending on the type of vacation you seek, the number of activities available to you is countless.

For those who love history and art, the medieval and Renaissance towns and museums are limitless and all are within a 10 to 60 minute drive.  Rome and Florence can easily be reached by a regional train or by car and are both excellent one day trips. The Orvieto train station is only 10 minutes away from Antica Olivaia with quick connections to major cities.

For those who love nature, you need not even leave the farmhouse, which stretches out over 7 hectares (circa 17 acres) of fertile land, forests, 3 olive groves and a vineyard.  If you do choose to go out and beyond, the Alviano WWF bird oasis is nearby as well as dozens of mountain trekking routes around the house and the Monte Peglia area.

For sports lovers, mountain bikes and e-bikes can be rented nearby and our swimming pool is only 2 steps away.  Professional biking routes with a guide and a few water sports (including boating on Lake Bolsena) are all within a close distance.

For foodies, informal cooking classes are offered on site and cheese, olive oil and wine tastings can be organized within easy reach of our farm.  Local products can also be purchased (pecorino, caprino, ricotta, olive oil, jams).

For music lovers, Umbria is the heart of the Jazz Festival in Italy which takes place in Orvieto every December (usually 27 December to 01 January) and a classical music fest in the summer.

For spa and relaxation lovers,  several famous thermal baths and spas are located nearby.

City Tours

Classic Orvieto

Approximate driving time: 15 minutes


Visiting this city is like traveling back in time, where traces of every period in the last three thousand years can be found, layer upon layer. Perched on a cliff of volcanic “tufa” stone, Orvieto is  the perfect integration between nature and man made structures. It was first inhabited by the Etruscans, taken over by the Romans, abandoned and later resettled by the first Christians.  Orvieto will enchant you with its ancient Etruscan sanctuary, labyrinth of underground caves, St. Patrick’s water well and Italy’s most magnificent “Duomo.” It is also known for its beautifully painted ceramics, woodworking, and Orvieto Classico wine. From our house, you can see stunning views of the town over the valley with the Duomo and Tower of the Moor standing out in the distance while the sun sets – an amazing show every evening.

Todi, a Town with a View

Approximate driving time: 45 minutes


Todi’s lofty position and solid defense system saved it from destruction during the barbarian invasions and today remnants of its Etruscan and Roman history still exist. Todi is encircled by three concentric rings of walls, which provide evidence of the town’s size in diverse periods. Just before entering the historic center, one encounters the impressive Temple of Santa Maria della Consolazione, one of the tallest Renaissance buildings in Umbria. In the heart of Todi is the splendid Piazza del Popolo, one of the most beautiful squares in all of Italy, flanked by monumental public palaces like Palazzo del Popolo, one of Italy’s oldest civic buildings, Palazzo dei Priori and the Cathedral. Todi offers its visitors unrivalled views over the Tiber river valley and the farming land’s patchwork design.

Civita di Bagnoregio, The Dying City

Approximate driving time: 30 minutes


Civita di Bagnoregio, also known as “the dying city,” is in fact not dying but full of life. Thanks to a recent resurrection and a boom in tourists, Civita has become famous due to its rarity. Here,where only 11 inhabitants live, time stands still. This unique Etruscan town perched on top of a tufa hill in the middle of a grand canyon is isolated from the mainland and only connected by way of a pedestrian bridge. Amazing views and history are to be found here along with a geological museum explaining how this town evolved both historically and geologically over 2,700 years. What we see today is extraordinary and so unique that this is a must-do excursion. From here, you can also hop over to the largest volcanic lake in Europe called Bolsena.

Assisi, Birthplace of a Saint

Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours


Assisi, a medieval hill town in central Umbria, is famous for the saint Francis of Assisi and the magnificent Basilica of St. Francis, with its upper and lower churches decorated with frescoes by numerous late medieval painters from the Roman and Tuscan schools, including works by Cimabue, Giotto, and Simone Martini. The city has other buildings of great significance and beauty, such as the Basilica of Santa Chiara with its massive lateral buttresses, and nearby, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, which houses the Porziuncola. Do not miss the Eremo delle Carceri, a small monastery and church in a canyon above Assisi, where St. Francis retreated and preached to birds.  Pair this visit up with either Perugia or Spello if you have time.

Spoleto, The Festival of Two Worlds

Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours


Spoleto is one of the region’s most fascinating towns due to its wealth of history, cultural heritage and important arts event – “The Festival of Two Worlds.”  The historic center has maintained its medieval appearance, although traces of its Roman heritage are still visible like the Roman house found under City Hall.  Spoleto’s most ancient monuments are the Arch of Drusus & Germanicus, the Roman theater, and the Basilica of San Salvatore. Of interest are also the triple-spanned Roman Bridge made from blocks of travertine and the Amphitheater dating back to the 2nd century. The town’s greatest monument is the Duomo, built in the Romanesque style in the 12th century.  The mighty Ponte delle Torri, a bridge 230 meters long supported by ten pointed arches, was an ancient Roman aqueduct and links the Rocca Albornoziana, a fortress Cardinal Albornoz built to the slopes of the mountain. A new series of escalators from the main parking lot takes you under the town to the various sites.

Montefalco, Sagrantino Pride

Approximate driving time: 60 minutes


Certain central Italian towns from the Middle Ages look as if they have been laid out by artists inspired by the marine fossils that were abundant in the soil of this area. Think of Siena’s shell-shaped central square, or Montepulciano, where the main street spirals up like a sea snail. Montefalco is a starfish: the 12th-century town was entered through five gates, each one associated with a parish church, and each one giving onto a lane that leads up to a five-sided piazza at the town’s highest point.  Known as “the balcony of Umbria” because of its lofty position and views over the fertile plain below, the town keeps itself busy as the center of the Sagrantino wine production area. It also has a tradition of woven linen and linen-cotton. The church of San Francesco is part of the well-organized museum and the impact of Benozzo Gozzoli’s Saint Francis fresco cycle of 1452, still there to admire, is as fresh and direct as ever.

Montepulciano, Home of Vino Nobile

Approximate driving time: 1 hour


Montepulciano is rich in treasured works created by famous Renaissance artists, charming squares and churches–architectural jewels preserved through the centuries. Famous for its Vino Nobile wine, the town sits high on a hilltop overlooking the southern Tuscan countryside of vineyards and olive groves. It is the birthplace of poet Agnolo Ambrogini, also called Poliziano, the town’s most famous son who was one of the first Greek scholars and an accomplished critic. Add also that it is a town with lots of wine cellars, artisans, labyrinths and tombs out of which they have created shops. Do not forget to stop by the historical Caffé Poliziano, where Fellini used to hang out, and enjoy the balcony with a view and some wonderful pastries.

Pienza, The Perfect Renaissance Village

Approximate driving time: 75 minutes


Here’s a village so small that in less than 15 minutes you will have literally seen the entire town.  Pienza was completely redesigned during the Renaissance by one of its residents – Pope Pius II – and was considered a “utopian town.”  It has changed little since then, with a great number of ornate, centuries-old buildings packed into a relatively small area. The cathedral, designed by Rossellino, has dazzling Sienese altarpieces and 16th century tapestries in the crypt. The Papal Palace – Palazzo Piccolomini – occupied by the Pope’s descendants until 1968, is now open to the public. The palace’s hanging garden offers spectacular views of the UNESCO Crete Senesi valley.   You will find more cheese shops here than people, making it famous for its delicious pecorino cheese.

Rome, The Eternal City

Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours or 1 hour by train


You may prefer to go instead by train, leaving from the train station in Orvieto Scalo where you can leave your car in the parking lot at no charge, and emerge in the city of Rome at the main train station, Roma Termini. The train connections between Orvieto and Rome are plentiful. If you leave early in the morning, you can spend a full day in Rome and still arrive back home in time for dinner. With an advance reservation for the Vatican Musuems and/or the Colosseum, you will have time to do a city tour, some shopping on via Condotti and grab an espresso in a cafe on Piazza Navona.  Or just toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain and fall in love with the Eternal City and…just maybe… squeeze in a gelato (or two for good luck!).

Florence, Birthplace of the Renaissance

Approximate driving time: 1.5 hours or 2.5 hours by train


Florence (called Firenze in Italian) is one of the world’s most important cities and deserves a longer stay but if your time is limited and the only way you can see Florence is on a day trip, you can do this while you stay at Antica Olivaia. Visit Santa Maria del Fiore as well as Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio with all its gold shops. Santa Croce tucked in the back is a must see with all its famous tombs and a leather shop.  You will need to book the Uffizi Museums and Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia beforehand to avoid the lines.  At lunch time do not forget to order their famous “Fiorentina” T-bone steak cooked rare along with a nice glass of Chianti.

Food Tours

We constantly search for locals who are passionate about their work, their food, their wine and their land and who generously share a phenomenal experience at a local price. These incredible experiences will make your Umbrian vacation unforgettable!

Winery Tours and Tastings


Among the many options, let us connect you to the wineries that best fit your style of wine tasting. We only select wineries when we really believe in what these vintners are trying to achieve, and that give our guests the best experiences possible. Some of the finest wines in all of Italy are here–Orvieto Classico and Sagrantino di Montefalco. If you would like to visit a winery for a winery tour and simple tasting or a more elaborate tour with lunch included then we will happily organize either a 2-hour or half-day visit at a local vineyard.   If you prefer we can also book a private driver so you are free to enjoy the scenery and all the wine you want with no worries about driving.  Most wineries we choose are run by a husband and wife team or are very small family run businesses that give you a very personal, down to earth view into the wine making business.  No experience is necessary!

Goat Farm Tour and Goat Cheese Lunch


Italy is world famous for its cheese – from parmigiano to mozzarella to pecorino to goat cheese. On this tour, you’ll visit a family run farm where they raise Alpine goats that feed on their grassy pastures. Learn how they are milked and how the owners make over 20 varieties of cheese from the same goat milk and see (and smell) how cheese ages.  You’ll get to meet the lovely goats and their kids as well as other farm animals and then you can relax and enjoy a generous farm-to-table lunch on the owner’s veranda. The lunch is comprised of at least 12 different goat cheeses all made from the same milk but aged in different ways along with bread, jams and honey to accompany the cheeses along with a wine pairing. The meal ends with their famous yogurt, which was awarded best goat milk yogurt in Italy. A very bucolic experience for the whole family.

Pasta Making with Marco (adults welcome)


Learn to make pasta like an Italian! Marco will show you the easy and fun way to make fettuccine usually in the morning and right after breakfast, as the pasta needs to dry during the day. Then this pasta will be cooked for that evening’s dinner so all can enjoy our new pasta makers’ work! Guests who are interested can hop in the kitchen with Marco before dinner to see what he’s up to and see how a good risotto is made or what it takes to make great roasted potatoes. Most of our guests go home and make pasta together as a wonderful family activity with the kids.

Olive Mill Tour (November only)


Learn how olives are picked and how olive oil is made.  In November, come with us to visit the olive mill where we bring our olives to get pressed every year. Meet the miller and his son who will show you the whole milling process and get a tasting of the first “green gold” that comes out of the press.  Bruschetta (fresh bread that is  toasted on an open fire) inundated with freshly pressed spicy olive oil and a glass of local wine conclude this wonderful experience.

Dinner above an Etruscan Grotto


Is a “dinner of a lifetime” on your Italy bucket list? We have assembled an array of amazing dining options for our guests set in beautiful courtyards, Italian piazzas al fresco, pizzerias or above an Etruscan grotto (from 700BC) with menus comprised of fresh local ingredients prepared by superb chefs and ordinary cooks.  Enjoy “la dolce vita” like a true Italian and you can be certain that the entire experience will be a something to remember.

Chocolate Tour at La Perugina Factory


Visit Italy’s most famous chocolate factory and feel like Willy Wonka for the day!  La Perugina invented Italy’s most famous little chocolate – the “Bacio” (kiss) – with its iconic blue starred, silver wrapping and messages of love inside. Located just outside Perugia, the House of Chocolate opens its doors to small groups with a tour of the museum, the actual chocolate factory, and tastings of the first chocolates created up to their latest creations.  Conclude your sweet visit at the chocolate shop. Courses can also be booked.

Nature Tours

We constantly search for locals who are passionate about their work and the Umbrian region and who generously share a phenomenal experience at a local price. These incredible experiences will make your Umbrian vacation unforgettable!

Mountain Bike & E-Bike Tour


For those who like the wind in their hair, we can organize several cycling options nearby. From mountain biking the forested slopes of Monte Peglia, to pedaling the quiet gravel roads of the valley, to seeing Civita di Bagnoregio, advanced and beginner cyclists will love it. If you are worried about the hills, we can even get you an E-bike! All cycling tours can be arranged with a professional guide, according to your preference and level.

Trekking Around the Cliff of Orvieto


Take a walk around the entire “rupe” or cliff plateau on which Orvieto sits. Half way up between the valley and the town perched on top of the plateau you will find a path starting from the Fortress of Albornoz on which you can walk all around the cliff. Below the town lie interesting ruins like an Etruscan necropolis, an early Christian church and fossilized remains dating back from prehistoric times.

Bomarzo’s Parco dei Mostri –  A Monster Park


Fancy a curious walk in a park full of monsters?  A “natural amusement” park co-exists with nature since the 16th century and is situated in a wooded valley beneath the Orsini’s Renaissance castle with lovely gardens and grotesque, larger-than-life sculptures (some even sculpted in the bedrock!). The park of Bomarzo was intended not to please, but to astonish, and like many Mannerist works of art, its symbolism is mysterious.  Pier Francesco Orsini commissioned the gardens and sculptures when his wife Giulia Farnese died in order to cope with his grief.  In the gardens, you will find a Leaning Lookout Tower, the Temple of Eternity, a Pegasus fountain, statues of a lion, elephant, dragon, bear, whale, tortoise, nymphs and an amazing Orcus (an ogre from hell with a very huge walk-in mouth!).   Families will love it and a photo in the gigantic mouth of the Orcus and in the lopsided house is a selfie must!

Cascate delle Marmore – Marmore Waterfalls


These waterfalls are a magnificent sight to behold. With only an hour drive from here, you can visit the tallest man-made waterfalls in the world. Lord Byron described them as “horribly beautiful” and these waterfalls were one of the main stops of the Grand Tour. First constructed by the Romans back in 271 BC, and then later improved in the 1700’s, it now has 3 drops the tallest of which is 82 meters (272 feet) high and is a total of 165 meters (541 feet) high. Much of the river is channeled into a hydroelectric plant, which reduces the fall’s roaring flow; however, during several hours of the day, the power plant flips a switch and lets the water once again gush over the cliffs. You can easily hike to the top of the falls with a viewing platform (prepare to get wet!); the view from the top offers gorgeous photos of the valley and forests below and of a spectacular rainbow that frequently appears.

Thermal Hot Springs


Your muscles may be tired after all your sightseeing and adventures so let the hot springs put your sore muscles to ease. You can enjoy a relaxing half or full day at a proper spa and pamper yourselves with hot mineral water pools and lounge chairs at either Chianciano’s Theia Spa or the Terme dei Papi in Viterbo (massages, saunas and other advanced therapies are also available). If you prefer a more naturalistic setting, then go for an all-out outdoor adventure in the wild with calcium basins and natural hot spring water coming from the mountain’s sources at either the Terme di Saturnia or Bagni San Filippo – both only an hour drive from here with other quaint towns to see on the way there or on the way back.

Walking Miles (actually only a mile or two!)


Let Miles, our faithful tour guide and Labrador, take you on a walk through our ancient olive groves and vineyards below the estate. He will be happy to show you his favorite trees, grass patches and paths. He will also show you where wild animals have left their traces and scents and tell you stories of wild boar running through our groves, of deer eating our fruit, and of badgers & porcupines sneaking through our fence to eat our apples. If you are lucky, he will spot some fossilized seashells testifying to Orvieto’s prehistoric origins. Also, meet Lola – our 500 year old olive tree. If they feel like it, our kitties may also join you on your trek. Leash and treats included (for Miles not the guests!).

Festivals

Corpus Domini & Medieval Procession

May-June (exact date depends on the Easter calendar)


A historic and religious event where the sacred cloth, Sacro Corporale, housed in a gilded tabernacle in the Duomo, is accompanied by a historical procession in medieval costumes as well as flag throwers. This event represents an important celebration for Catholics – Corpus Christi. The procession is composed of all the municipal courts of the time, coats of arms, and weapons of the noble families of Orvieto. All of this happens with a beautiful backdrop of Orvieto’s stunning scenery, offering a charming and unforgettable experience.

Pentecost & La Palombella

May-June (exact date depends on the Easter calendar)


A traditional festival in Orvieto that takes place on Pentecost Day – 5o days after Easter Day.  According to this religious event a dove representing the “Holy Spirit” flies in a special carrier from Via Maitani to the Duomo square, just in front of the cathedral. During this celebration, the beautiful Piazza del Duomo hosts hundreds of people to celebrate this important Catholic feast in Orvieto. The event Orvieto in Fiore (Orvieto in bloom) takes place right before the Palombella holiday celebration, in which the city, houses, and stores are filled with flowers and include horticultural exhibits and local craftsmen’s booths.

Festival of the Goose & Umbrichello

July


For those who love to eat and try super local cuisine in a rural setting then these are the fest that foodie dreams are made of.  Mostly locals attend these annual events almost like a block party where local adults and children volunteer to cook, server and clean up in order to raise money for local charities and families in need.  These fests usually serve one main specialty cooked in various manners (like goose liver with gnocchi or roasted goose) and Umbrichelli -a thick pasta made in Umbria with a vegetable sauce -and guinea fowl.  Around the picnic tables are stalls with carnival like games and candy along with a Italian dance floor for line dancing and free style couples that dance to the waltzing notes of an accordion.  Super local experience in a country setting not to be missed if you are staying with us so make sure to ask us if any local fests are going on when you are staying with us.

Umbria Winter Jazz Festival

December


The Umbria Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz music festivals in Italy.  This festival includes a series of concerts held in historical buildings like museums, in the elegant Mancinelli theater, in cafes, in book shops,  and outside right on the streets of  Orvieto. The Winter edition is a great opportunity to enjoy top notch jazz from major artists from all over the world in a magical winter atmosphere during the last days of the year!  Also during this festival there are numerous parallel events like Jazz lunches and dinners in various restaurants, jam sessions, street performances and much more. Besides the Orvieto festival in December,  there is also the Umbria Jazz Summer Festival in Perugia.

Official website: www.umbriajazz.it