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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Umbria, The Land Of Saints

St. Benedict of Nursia writing the Benedictine...
St. Benedict of Nursia writing the Benedictine rule, portrait in the church of Heiligenkreuz Abbey near Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria. Portrait (1926) by Herman Nieg (1849-1928) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) stai...
English: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) stained glass window. Cathedral of Saint-Rombouts, Mechelen (Belgium). In the book an extract of St. Thomas's hymn Pange lingua ("Sing, My Tongue"): Verbum caro pane vero verbo carnem efecit fit(que ...) Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature by His word to Flesh He turns, and He makes ... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220)
St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1182-1220) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By []Giovanni Balboni

In Umbria, villas are beginning to gain stock among international tourists as the preferred choice of accommodation. While people are slowly discovering the quaint, rural charms the region has to offer, what many may not be aware of is this region of Italy is best renowned, internally, for being the birthplace of an uncommon number of saints.

In fact, one of the monikers the region often goes by among Italians is precisely translated as 'The Land of Saints'. Tourist officials and providers of Umbria villas are also quick to point out this connection, usually following it up with a list of the many interesting mediaeval sites one can visit in the region. However, while this may be seen by some as just a cheap marketing ploy, the fact is the region does offer a number of interesting spots of both religious and historical interest.

The saints

Perhaps the most famous saint to be born in this part of Italy was St Benedict, founder of the Benedictine order of monks and main responsible for Western monasticism. Visitors who have an interest in exploring some religious history when renting Umbria villas should visit the nearby monasteries, including Saint Peter in Perugia, Santa Maria of Valdiponte in Montelabbate (near Perugia), Saint Benedict at Monte Subasio, close to Assisi, Saint Salvatore of Monte Corona and the abbeys of Petroia, near Citt� di Castello, and Sassovivo, near Foligno. A trip to St Benedict's birth village of Norcia is also mandatory, if only to appreciate the recently rebuilt Benedictine monastery - the work of a group of American monks invested in bringing the order back to its birthplace, after Napoleonic laws had banished them over two centuries previously.

Another relevant saint to hail from the region in a time long ago was St Francis of Assisi, founder of the famed Franciscan order. The basilica of Assisi is a compulsory stop for people wanting to find out more about this saint, whilst the church of Saint Fortunate contains the remainders of Jacopone, a devout follower of the saint who was also one of the first poets to compose in 'common' ancient Italian dialect.

Other major places of interest for tourists renting Umbria villas and interested in the lives of saints are the basilica and monastery of Santa Rita, in Cascia, and the basilica of Saint Valentine, who was beheaded in Rome and whose name is synonymous with the day dedicated to celebrating love. However, religious history aficionados will find saint-related monuments and locales in almost any nook and cranny in Umbria. Villas will never be far from these magnificent religious works of art.

It is clear to see, then, why the region fully deserves its unofficial title of 'The Land of Saints'. Those interested in history or religion that are planning a stay in Umbria villas will be in for a treat.

Giovanni Balboni works for To Tuscany, who specialise in finding the perfect []Umbria villas as well as those in Tuscany and Puglia. With an excellent reputation, all our properties are personally selected and visited by our representatives to ensure we offer only the best in the regions.

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Chianti - Not Only for Wine Connoisseurs

Chianti - Not Only for Wine Connoisseurs
By Giovanni Balboni
Chianti, in Tuscany, is not all just about their famous wine. The area brims with natural, breath-taking beauty that can be enjoyed even if you're just lounging around in Tuscany. Villa accommodation is abundant in the region, and if you heed these following tips you'll be able to savour your stay all the more.
Wine Tasting
It's safe to say that when people speak of Chianti, foremost on their minds is the region's famous wine from this region of Tuscany. Villa accommodation where you're staying may even have stocks of the good old Chianti Classico. So if you happen to be in the region specifically to see and taste where these famous wines are produced, you should know that wine tasting in Italy slightly differs than that in, say, the US. Basically, things are much slower here than how they do it in California. That's why if you're spending the day tasting wines, it pays to have a little strategy. For example, you should start by deciding which wine producer you like best. To begin with, it's always safe to choose the wines of the Chianti Classico region. Moreover, it is also not very wise to choose more than three wineries-as we've said, things are slower here, and you'll enjoy the experience better by savouring the taste and the moment.
Natural Beauty
Chianti's physical treasures-its gentle hills and the fact that it is surrounded by the more 'artsy' cities-can literally take your breath away, especially if your Tuscany villa happens to be perched on a low hill overlooking a vineyard. One tip: stand on a hill and see if the olive trees, the well-arranged geometry of the vineyards, the winding roads lined with a phalanx of old cypress trees, and the woods bordered with yellow broom do not, in fact, make you sigh deeply. Chianti has the kind of beauty artists love immortalising on canvas, and it helps that it is actually 'the heart of Tuscany'-making the rest of the region's equally enticing destinations within easy reach. Chianti's quaint charm, accentuated by its winding roads that snake through little soporific villages and the larger communities, encourage visitors to explore and willingly get lost.
The Old World Towns
Make no mistake about it, Italy is a beautiful country. But even then, only very few regions can claim to have the sheer richness of Chianti's panorama. Aside from its undulating landscape exploding with colour, the region is dotted with old towns that hark back to a more innocent time in Tuscany. Villa accommodation is often located in such a town.
Chianti's ancient walled villages offer the tourist not only a memorable experience, but also an educational and cultural one. The lively town of Greve, for instance, has a peculiar piazza that has seen gatherings and events in the past centuries and offers many shops and dining places to sample the region's famous wine and food. There's also Panzano, Radda and Castellina, and before you know it, you'll be in love! You won't want to leave the region's embrace.
Giovanni Balboni works for To Tuscany, who specialise in finding the perfect Tuscany villa in Chianti as well as selected villas in Umbria and Puglia. To Tuscany is proud of their villas and their reputation. All our Tuscan properties are personally selected and visited by our representatives to ensure we offer only the best in the region.
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