House | 2 bedrooms | sleeps 5
Assisi Retreat offers privacy for 5 people over 3 floors but is also homely enough that a couple would feel comfortable and cosy as well.
The building's foundations of massively thick stone walls testify to its age and are very effective in keeping out the heat and cold, but inside are all the comforts of home.
There is disabled access from the quiet, car-free street into the ground floor living room that also features a bathroom with shower, a walk in robe and kitchenette. The sofa in this room converts to a true queen size bed and is very comfortable so it is ideal for 2 guests that could have difficulties with the stairs, or else for when 5 people want to share the house.
Upstairs consists of a dining - sitting area and kitchenette with gas stove, whereas the 2nd floor contains the large double bedroom with beamed ceilings and windows looking over the terracotta roof tops of Bettona, a single bedroom and bathroom with shower.
Just outside the front door is a wonderful park with century-old trees and a magnificent view across to Assisi and down the Umbrian Valley. The park is great to sit and dream in or wonderfully safe for the children to play in.
The best thing about holidaying in this house is you get the feel that it is yours as you are completely free to come and go as you choose in a town off the tourist route but close to everything you want to discover in Umbria, the Green Heart of Italy. The town itself is unique in the facilities that a population of just 350 is provided with 3 great restaurants, 2 cafes, a well-presented museum and art gallery, beautifully restored churches and best of all - friendly and welcoming residents.
|Size||Sleeps up to 5, 2 bedrooms|
|Will consider||Long term lets (over 1 month)|
|Access||Car advised, Wheelchair users|
|Nearest Amenities||200 m|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Perugia 17.6 km, Nearest railway: Perugia 21 km|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages, Suitable for people with restricted mobility|
|Notes||No pets allowed, No smoking at this property|
Features and Facilities
|General||Central heating, TV|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Hair dryer|
|Utilities||Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Freezer|
|Rooms||2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms and 1 En suites|
|Furniture||1 Sofa beds, Single beds (1), Double beds (1), Dining seats for 5, Lounge seats for 4|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
The Umbria region
Bettona is reached by driving up a picturesque road winding through olive groves.
The Etruscans liked this spot so much that they established a town here around 200 BC. The historical importance of this strategic site is obvious when we consider that it overlooks the valleys that divide Umbria in two: the Lower Tiber River Valley with Perugia at its head, and Assisi at the head of the Umbrian Valley. It has all the characteristics that were considered important for ancient civilizations: the plains provided wheat, the slopes wine, the hilltops olive oil, and the porous rock an abundant supply of spring water. The Etruscans were excellent hydro-engineers and agronomists so they drained the marshy swamps to cultivate grain, harnessed the water for irrigation and built Bettona on the hilltop, firstly for defense and secondly to be away from the “bad air” (mal aria) and the mosquitoes on the plains. We can relate to those Etruscans when we look across to Perugia, Assisi and Spello from this so-called Balcony of Umbria.
In the civil war in 31 BC between Augustus Caesar (Octavian) and Mark Anthony, Bettona sided with the Mark Anthony but the Octavian won and so he destroyed the town. But perhaps Mark Anthony got his own back because today there is still a family in the town that carries his name, Marcantonini.
At the top of the hill we drive around the castellated walls that completely encircle the town. In some parts we can see the massive blocks put there by the Etruscans but generally we are looking at the walls reconstructed in 1367 after being destroyed by the Perugians in 1352.
We enter town on the road that passes from one gate to the other, Porta Vittorio Emanuele at the North-West and the Porta Romana at the South-East. Two other gates, Porta San Crispolto and Porta 1st of May, are for pedestrian entry and lead to the highest part of the hill, where the four roads from the gates meet at 'The Piazza', the central Piazza Cavour. This wide, quiet square is surrounded by the most notable public buildings and is the meeting place of the just 300 town inhabitants.
The most important building is the Palazzo del Podestá, built in 1371 as the Governors residence, that today holds a small but significant Art Gallery with works by Perugino, Dono Doni and other important Umbrian painters. This is the opposite of the Uffizi – here they turn the lights on when you come in and you have the whole gallery to yourself! In 1987 the gallery found itself at the centre of the 'crime bulletins' when, during a sensational robbery, 28 works were stolen to order and taken to Jamaica. They were recovered in 1990 and once more hang in their original places.
One can also admire the parish church whose origins go back to the early days of Christianity, which was enlarged in 1225, remodelled between 1803-1816, and reopened in August 2007 after being closed for 20 years.
Sitting at the outdoor tables of one of the two cafés we look across to the beautiful fountain built by a local stonemason in 1890.
Recently a medieval well was rediscovered under the piazza and it now can be visited through the Archaeological Museum situated in the main square.
Other architectural delights can be enjoyed while dining in one of the three excellent restaurants that attract patrons from nearby cities and that are all located in beautifully restored historical buildings offering outside dining as well. Following on from the Etruscans the Bettonese offer wonderful local produce such as cheese, well-priced quality wine, sausages, prosciutto and outstanding olive oil.
In summary, Bettona offers all the attractions of an Italian village: history, culture, art, local produce, fine dining, and friendly townspeople that are happy to have you admire their town at your own pace. You can feel part of town life when you shop in the local mini-market and buy the local gourmet food products.
Summers are warm and sunny with generally cooling breezes in the evening. The thick walls of the 14th century house protect from the summer heat and winter cold.
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Calendar last updated:27 Jul 2013
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