The Flavors Of History
Visit one of our “hidden” villas located in Umbria, which is nicknamed the “green heart of Italy”, in the valley of Valnerina, meaning “little valley of the Nera”. Within the off-the-beaten-track central Italian region of Umbria, the Valnerina is even further off the map. The valley offers one of the prettiest drives in the region along highway SS209, which skirts the crystalline Nera river and runs under steep mountainsides where tiny crèche-looking stone villages perch precariously where the isolated hamlets and claustrophobia-inducing sheer rock walls remind you that centuries ago the inhabitants of these impenetrable peaks held out against conversion to Christianity for long after the rest of the region, where dragons and witches lurked in caves, and where – just to make the area a bit more hostile – each tiny town was locked in perennial warfare with the next one over. This is a self-contained area of high mountains, poor communications, steep wooded valleys, upland villages and vast stretches of barren nothingness. It’s truly a genuine “forgotten” corner in Italy. In the nearby National Park of the Sibillini Mountains it’s possible to choose from a variety of sport activities: from relaxing walks along mountain paths, from rafting descents along the river, rock climbing, mountain and road biking as well as hang-gliding.
In Valnerina, the ancient country traditions produced a peculiar relationship between landscape and local products. If you are looking for a natural and authentic taste, Valnerina will be pleased to offer you its treasures and together with its historical and artistic heritage you will find many festivals dedicated to the produce of the mountains. You will discover the pleasant smell of the black truffle, the tenderness and colors of lentil, the fragrance of emmer, the real taste of ham and salami, the delicacy of the trout, the strong softness of sheep’s milk cheese, the golden refinement of saffron and the sweetness of honey. The Valnerina Valley awaits…
History of the Villa
Our “Hidden” villa was first built in the 12th century as a horse stable. Owned by the the Cybo family in the 15th century, the stables became a bachelor’s secret country home for Lorenzo Cybo, Duke of Ferentillo, the town where the villa belongs, whose mother was of the Medici family. Dedicated to the pleasures of life, rather than to work in the administration of the state the nephew of pope Innocenzo VIII had to hide his leisure time at his country home away from all the Vatican eyes. The villa sits next to one of the oldest road of Italy. Before there was the Flaminia highway, the major road was the one going along the valley of Valnerina. Major names like San Francis of Assisi walked along this road in pilgrim and had to stop by what today is the villa to refill their canteens of water since this was the only main water source in the surrounding valley.
Caterina’s lovely villa is off the beaten path but the food and wine experience was absolutely out of this world. Myself and my guests felt like we got to see, enjoy and taste what Italy is really all about.