Friday, September 22, 2006


For ten days every October, the Umbrian capital of Perugia celebrates a full-scale love affair with chocolate. And for a long weekend every November, nearby Città di Castello gets festive in honour of the Italian delicacy of truffles. And when you stay at nearby La Preghiera, you can tuck-in to a traditional slice of Umbria whilst enjoying the luxuries of a restored 12th Century monastery oozing with style, comfort and period character.

Truffles and chocolate – two key ingredients of Italian cuisine. So where better to bite into the real Italy than in the gourmet region of Umbria? Home to the truffle and with a goumet reputation that has surpassed that of neighbouring regions, Umbria is the destination for serious foodies, truffle hunters and anyone who wants to step into Mama Italia’s kitchen. Discover your nose for truffle hunting, enjoy smooth indulgence at the chocolate festival, let loose your inner chef on an Italian cookery course, source the best local produce in vibrant markets, and feast in authentic trattorias.

Situated in the heart of Italy, La Preghiera, originally a 12th Century Monastery and now privately owned, has been beautifully converted to a charming and unique, luxury bijou country house, available for exclusive holidays. La Preghiera retains many original features that have been fused with creature comforts, modern amenities and stylish décor, to create five-star country house accommodation and is surrounded by several acres of landscaped gardens, with a private chapel and eco friendly swimming pool, all encompassed by lush countryside and the foothills of the Apenines.

In the spacious, beautifully designed bedrooms you will find king-size beds, original Umbrian wall hangings, antique furniture and family collectables from the owners’ worldwide travels. White waffle gowns, towels and slippers await you in marble-clad bathrooms, and wonderful in-house beauty treatments from massages to manicures are available. Refresh and rejuvenate in the outdoor ecologically sound pool (no chlorine), and build an appetite for the Italian feasts that await.

For a delicious treat to coincide with the truffle festival, La Preghiera is running one of its frequent Italian Cookery Courses. Arrrive on Thursday 2 November to settle in to your luxury accommodation in the green heart of Italy and meet your Italian cooks. In addition to a hands-on experience making ravioli and tagliatelle, antipasto and desserts, you will visit an oil mill to see how Olive Oil is pressed, take a trip to the truffle fair, and visit the thriving local markets where you can savour the atmosphere, the smells and stock up on fresh local ingredients. The final cookery lesson takes place on Sunday morning but you are welcome to stay on and enjoy more of the treasures La Preghiera has to offer.

For the Chocoholics, the Perugia Chocolate Festival is held from 14-22 October 2006 ( Perugia is home to the biggest chocolate festival, with chocolate sculptures, chocolate cocktails, chocolate head-wear, chocolate-themed discos and this year a chocolate building site is being set up. Stay nearby at La Preghiera and join-in this extraordinary meeting of a million chocoholics.

Accommodation: 11 double rooms in the monastery and 3 double rooms in Moscatelli villa. Sleeps up to 29 in total if you hire out both for a lavish house party. Includes one bedroom and bathroom accessible for wheelchair users, plus two bed bedrooms for people with mobility difficulties. Choose luxury bed and breakfast accommodation with all the trimmings, or self-catering/half-board in the beautiful Villa Moscatelli that also stands in the monastery estate.

How much? From €175 per room per night. Optional four course dinner €50. Deals from €48 per night per person self-catering (for groups of over 18 people). Three-day cookery courses cost from €1185 - €1410 (including accommodation and meals).

How do I get there? Fly to Ancona, Bologna or Rome. Ryanair offer great deals to Ancona and Bologna (Forli). Transfer time to La Preghiera is 2-3 hours. You can hire a car or be picked up by your hosts.

For more information about La Preghiera Luxury Country House please contact Sally Ann on +39 075 930 2428 or by email to