August 11, 2013

Tuscany and Umbria

We have recently come home from a week in Umbria, central Italy. I am still trying to gather my thoughts and memories about our experiences there, there was so much to absorb, so much staggering beauty to take in. A lot of fun had. I have briefly been to this area but not for many years, and seeing it all through our kids' eyes, made it feel entirely new again.

Sunset view from the ramparts of old Cortona, Lake Trasimeno in the distance
We stayed for three nights close to the Tuscan border, in an old hunting lodge near Cortona, now an utterly gorgeous small hotel.

From there we visited Siena, Cortona, Pienza and Montepluciano - Tuscan cities/towns of such overwhelming loveliness it is really an impossible job to know where to start. The topographical location of most of the towns is mesmerising in that you see them on the skyline before you arrive. So many of the towns in Tuscany and Umbria are perched on the top of hills, terraces and fields of vines and sunflowers below punctuated by the vertical cypress trees, deep blue August skies above - Church and monastary spires the highest points. Once inside the town walls, the overwhelming impression of these hilltop towns is how entirely medieval they look, no modern buildings within the ancient town walls, peeling C14th frescos inside every religious building, bells still ringing out the hours. And being perched so high, the views from the town walls towards the open country are breathtaking.

Living in England I am used to ancient buildings, but the crumbling, unspoilt, almost unchanged feel of these places is astounding.  Especially in the back streets. We loved it all. I could write a blog post about each town, but I know other people's holiday snaps can wear thin, so here are a just a few photos that give a flavour of what I loved most - not so much the main 'sights' although they are stunning, more the winding medieval streets, the views,  the colours.....

Backstreet, Montepulciano
In the main square of Montepulciano, a group of unseen opera singers were rehearsing behind open upper floor windows of a grand town building, red curtains billowing. Their singing could be heard across the piazza. Only in Italy. Is it unfair to think it would have been radio 1 in Blighty?!

Backsteets, Pienza

Backstreets of Siena

Having said that, the Duomo in Siena is staggering. And building started in the 1260s. Blimey.

Duomo, Siena 

 It is great seeing teenagers gawping at C13th art. YES!

After three nights near Cortona we headed forty minutes drive south to a tiny, family run hotel near Todi. It was such a special experience, I will save it for another post, along with a cracking recipe given to me for Italian breakfast cake. Italian breakfast cake. You read right.


  1. Number 1 on my bucket list. Love your 'alley picures'. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I don't think I could get tired of your holiday snaps.

    beautiful each and every one.

    Now I want to go back to Italy. Oh hell, I always want to go back to Italy.

    xo Jane

  3. It looks stunning - lovin' old and crumbly.

  4. Beautiful photos of a beautiful country. I loved your image of the sounds of opera floating across the square. Thank you for sharing your holiday!


  5. Welcome back Belinda! Your photo's are beautiful. What a pretty hotel you stayed in.

    Madelief x

  6. Blimey indeed Belinda... What staggering architecture.
    Your photos are fantastic as always.
    Thanks for the tour.....
    Julie x

  7. Looks like a lovely place to visit! How was the weather?

  8. These pictures are amazing, thanks so much for sharing them! The family and I have been looking at some Tuscany Villa rentals that we can stay at over the next year because we all have always wanted to go there. My grandparents have shown me pictures of the place that they used to live, and it was very similar to the ones that you posted.

  9. D-I-V-I-N-E! Just got back from a week in your world, beautiful big skies and North Norfolk is good. Sending you love Belinda,

  10. I love the views of Italy! I'm planning my own vacation there in a few months and I've been looking into things to do while over there. I am a huge history fan, so I would love to visit all of the areas of historical significance, as well as experience the culture of the country. I've also heard about amazing villas for rent in Tuscany, I would love to stay in one, but they are probably very expensive. What was your favorite thing about your vacation? do you have any suggestions for things to do for me?

  11. I'm loving sharing everyone's holiday snaps as for a variety of reasons we haven't been able to get away this summer ... so I'm holidaying vicariously courtesy of some lovely bloggers. And you have photographed exactly the things I would have done. All those wonderful winding back streets, did you find yourself thinking about the many generations of lives lived out in those houses?

  12. glad you loved Tuscany. being Italian I feel responsible if people don't like it or don't have a good time!!

  13. When I need to think about these things I will definitely come back here.

  14. Absolutely stunning! My family and I just rented out one of those scenic Tuscan villa rentals for three weeks last month and I can totally see why everyone who goes there wants to stay. I mean between the food, wine, and scenery I don't think any other place on earth can top it.