Wednesday, April 26, 2006

HEAVENLY HOSTS - Part 1 of 3

From Yorkshire Evening Post – Alison Bellamy

"It is perfect for honeymoon, holiday or rest and relaxation…Alison Bellamy visits Umbria in Italy.

As we sat on the terrace for a tasty al fresco breakfast, the early morning sun streamed onto the table and the smell of rosemary and lavender wafted from the luscious countryside. A steaming double espresso was placed in front of me, and as I savoured the taste of the rich, fresh coffee, I smiled and felt relaxed for the first time in ages. It was the perfect place for a honeymoon…of sorts. Me and the bloke had just got engaged and we were, of course, on cloud nine. Having never been to Italy before, we jumped at the chance of the trip and it turned out to be probably the best holiday we ever had. Umbria is a truly wonderful, exhilarating experience for all the sense.
Our trip to La Preghiera in Calzolaro, truly the hidden garden of Italy, fulfilled all the expectations I had about this amazing country. I am not just talking about the Italian men, but the scenery, people, food, sunshine, impressive castles, farm, houses, cafes, mountains, rivers, markets, ice cream parlours…I could go on all day.
La Preghiera is a country house hotel, run by a wonderful English couple. They have lived in Italy for more than two decades and are two of the most interesting people you could ever meet. They are fabulous contacts if you are seriously considering moving to live in Italy, as they also run a restoration and property business. The proof of their good work is in their amazing home, which is now open to guests. They bought the spacious palace as a run down monastery, which dates back to the 1100’s. it was surrounded by a moat of mud and took more than 10 years to restore. There is even a toy soldier museum in their cellar.
We flew from Liverpool to Pisa on a budget deal with Rayanair and were met at the airport by the gardener from La Preghiera…talk about a personal service. He immediately bought us a strong coffee, which prepared me for the Italian style of driving. En route back to the house, we had a glimpse of the amazing scenery which was to become the norm for the following week. On arrival at the fabulous La Preghiera, our jaws well and truly dropped. It was breathtaking."