About the Estate
High in the hills of undiscovered Umbria, with mesmerizing views of bucolic countryside and layer-upon-layer of mountain ridges, is an artfully restored 18th-century villa. Palazzo Terranova is a delightful base for discerning travelers wanting to explore the nature and antiquities of both Umbria AND Tuscany. Near Umbria's capital of Perugia but just five miles from the border with Tuscany, Terranovo is less than an hour's drive from Umbria's historic hilltop villages that are every bit as charming as Tuscany's, but without the crowds.
Palazzo Terranova is a 10-suite hotel. But it's much more like a home than a hotel. Each of three floors has its own art- and book-filled living room, and the reading selections reflect the owner's highly civilized international tastes - "Secret Gardens of Napoli", "The Journals of Nicholas and Alexandra", a biography of Edith Wharton, Kobbe's "Complete Opera Book", a commemorative photo book about Louis Vuitton.
But as much as any other part of the experience, Terranova is about the breathtaking views from the hillside lawn and terraces, the colors of the eight successive ridges changing with the time of day. And it's about the honor of being in the grand but intimate home of a worldly gentleman, with a staff of 20 that feels entirely yours.
The airports in Rome, Florence and Pisa are each about two hours away. Perugia's airport, about 30 minutes away, can take private jets and is served by some Italian and European commercial flights. Terranova's staff will gladly pick guests up from any of the airports, but many guests prefer to have a rental car for excursions into Umbria and Tuscany; rental cars can be picked up at the airport for the drive to Terranova, or they can be delivered to guests at the Estate after their arrival. Also, there is a private helipad right at the property.
There are eight rooms, more accurately suites, in the main palazzo, and two in a small palazzina on the hillside just below the house. All suites have very high ceilings, with doors and exposed beams fashioned by local artisans out of gorgeous reclaimed woods. Florentine artists, who were in residence more than three years, have created masterful faux surfaces, a different color or design in each room, intricate patterns on ceilings.
Bathrooms are big, some downright grand, several with old-fashioned bear-claw tubs. Bed linens are English-made and have a delectable silk content. Window shutters open to the ample hillside breezes, and for those on the southern and western sides of the house there are endless views. In each room there is a sampling of the owner's civilized reading tastes. Books and art are everywhere in this house.
Much of what guests are served by the chef comes right from the Estate's gardens -- its own olive oil, a wide array of herbs and vegetables including squashes, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, carrots – and Merlots and Cabernets from the Estate's own vineyards. The chef cooks in a hearty Umbrian/Mediterranean style, with lots of pastas, lamb, beef, fresh soups and cheeses - favorites are Tagliata di Manzo al Rosmarino e Radicchio Acciugato, and Sigari di Ricotta di Bufala e Spinaci, or for dessert Semifreddo all' Amerena con Pistacchi Tostati.
Of course, with the astounding views, most of the summer dining is outside - either on the lawn or terraces. But the restored, vaulted-ceiling dining room, lit entirely by candles made especially for the house, could not be more romantic. Then there is the owner's wine cellar, with grand, candled chandeliers.
On our recent visit, our favorite pastime was reading on the south- facing lawn or at the large invisible-edge pool, pausing after chapters to take in the ever-changing colors of the vast mountain ranges. There was of course the requisite fitness room, but we preferred the long walks on the hillside behind the house; one day, we were provisioned with specially prepared picnic baskets, and another day we took the bikes for a spin on the nearby dirt roads. Chef Patrizio offers cooking classes in Umbrian cooking, homemade pastas and breads; he is charming and fun. Unusual for a hotel (it's not, really a hotel) of this small size, there is a resident masseuse, Martina, one of the best we have ever experienced.
Terranova is an ideal home base for sorties into both the Umbrian and Tuscan countryside. Monte Santa Maria, a tiny hillside fortress/ village with few visitors, can be reached by bike on quiet roads in about 30 minutes; during our stay, one couple make its annual two-hour walk to Santa Maria, but they "cheated" and had Terranova's driver pick them up for the return trip. Almost as small as Santa Maria but with a handful of stylish shops (for linen and pottery, especially) is Spello, where wealthy Romans have pieds-a-terre. Gubbio, with its grand medieval town square, is 45 minutes away, and Perugia with world- class shopping is less. For those who insist on "crossing the border" into Tuscany, Cortona and other spots are less than one hour. But why leave Terranova for places more traveled?
The cost to rent the entire property for that special family get-together is just less than 7,000 Euro per day. Considering the house can accommodate up to 22 guests, that is surprisingly less than 300 Euro per person. Individual rooms can of course be rented; the largest of those, and the ones with the most stunning views, are just over 700 Euros daily. The smaller rooms, which are nonetheless more spacious than our experience in Europe, are less than 500 Euros per day. All rates include full breakfast.
For more information about Palazzo Terranova or to inquire about a reservation, call Sanctuare at (800) 225-4255 from the U.S. and Canada; from elsewhere, call (802) 457-5280. Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.