Casa Rosa is a traditional stone farmhouse set high in the green hills of Umbria, some ten kilometres (or six miles) north-east of Assisi. The house is divided into self-catering apartments – one large holiday apartment occupying the entire of the first floor of the original farmhouse, two smaller apartments sharing the ground floor, a small cottage in the converted stables; a two-bedroom apartment; and a studio apartment in a new extension. Each apartment is completely self-contained, with its own kitchen and bathroom, and its own balcony or terrace.
All the apartments are simply but comfortably furnished, beautifully decorated, and have full central heating. There is also spectacular swimming pool, shared by the apartments: located above the house in a marvellously tranquil position, it enjoys panoramic views over the National Park of Mount Subasio.
The pool is bordered along one side by lavender, local herbs and a large cherry tree; on the other, a wide terrace is paved in local stone, with sun-beds and deck chairs for lounging and sunbathing. Also found here are the barbecue and gazebo. Around the house is a small farm of 40 hectares (or 100 acres), roughly one-third cultivated, one-third pasture, and one-third wooded with planted trees.
The farm is surrounded by woodlands and pastures, and elevated as it is 450 metres in the hills, offers magnificent views over the National Park of Mount Subasio. The hillside and forest hide an abundance of local wildlife: martens, porcupine and wild boar have all been seen on the farm, and the wealth of bird life includes buzzards, goldfinches and hoopoes. In spring, the meadows, fields and verges abound in wild flowers, among them poppies, cyclamen, wild gladioli, and many types of orchid; from May to July, fireflies dance in the night, and through the summer the farm is home to some 30 varieties of butterfly. Along the river are waterfalls and natural pools, where one can bathe in the summer. The hills, woods and valleys offer countless possible routes for walking.
Assisi, the nearest town, was the home of St. Francis and his female counterpart, St. Clare. For seven centuries now, Assisi has been a focus for pilgrimage, with the area rich in traditions associated with the saints. The town itself has been carefully preserved, its steep, medieval streets winding between churches and houses of rose-coloured stone.
From the cherries and jam we enjoyed courtesy of Ella, to the delicious meals prepared by Alessandro, we were just enamoured with their generosity and kindness. As for the surroundings, it is nothing short of breathtaking – and I've seen many a picturesque landscape! The house was so welcoming, replete with touches like wild flowers.
To wake each morning to sunshine over the mountains, and end each evening watching fireflies dance in the dark, was really quite spectacular. The sound of birdsong and bats, or the breeze playing in the trees, is the extent of the noise pollution from the balcony! And the days spent by the pool, walking to the 'Secret Place' (I won't spoil the surprise!), or simply the smell of lavender washing over you: there really aren't words.
As for Assisi, it's an incredible town – and there's so much more to experience in Umbria generally. For some true R&R, I am truly convinced there is nowhere better.
We arrived late on the Saturday night over the Easter weekend. Assisi was busy, but we followed the sat nav halfway up the hill until Alessandro found us and we follwed him the rest of the way. It was at that point I knew we were going to enjoy our stay!
In the morning we awoke to amazing view of the land and had a traditional Italian Easter breakfast, prepared freshly by Alessandro and Ella. It was simply devine.
We were told about a couple of places to go and see during the day and were suggested somewhere for an evening meal. I can't remember to the name of the restaurant, but all the food was cooked over an open fire, it was amazing!
We spend 2 nights there before we had to leave, but can't recommenced Casa Rosa highly enough. The place is magical, the hosts, Ella and Alessandro are amazing, they are both super friendly (and speak great English) and nothing is too much trouble for them!
We picked cherries from the laden trees, enjoyed visits to nearby Assissi, went over the mountain to Spello where we saw the best wild flowers I have ever seen as well as buzzards, kestrels and a hoopoe. The cuckoo made its presence felt, the bantams were divine.
Need a half year pick me up? Go. Ella and Alessandro will warmly welcome you and look after you.
Casa Rosa makes a great base from which to explore Assisi and the surrounding district. Assisi, though not a large town, has a huge amount to explore, and the surrounding Umbrian countryside is very beautiful. In August, it was hot, but Casa Rosa provides some relief from the heat, being up in the hills and catching what breeze there is.
It was perhaps our most relaxing holiday ever, partly because we stayed 2 weeks at the one location, which made it feel very spacious, but also because of the quiet beauty of the place itself.