Sitting on the top of the Antognolla Valley, in Northern Umbria, Villa Capanne is a 600-year-old farmhouse, which has been carefully restored to retain its original charm. The property is nestled on the edge of the Antognolla Estate, with beautiful views over the golf course and rolling hills. Though part of an estate, you really do feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere; any neighbours are a mere dot on the horizon and you’re far enough away from the golf course not to be a target!
Inside, the house is beautifully decorated – you can tell the owners (Chrissie and David) have really tried to keep the original character. While ceilings are high, some of the original beams have been left in place and though it’s a huge property, it feels cosy, lived in. The kitchen is equipped with everything you’d need, from dinner parties to BBQs. There’s even a games room with table tennis, pool and a variety of different board games. The dining room and sitting room are combined in one large open space, but it’s the great fireplace that is the standout feature of this room – even unlit.
Sleeping eight, Villa Capanne is designed for large groups and special occasions. And if you don’t want to cook, Chrissie and David will organise a wonderful Italian chef to come in and cater to all your needs. There’s also a second house adjacent to the main Villa called Capannetta, a cottage which has two further bedrooms. It offers many of the same features of the main house, though no games room and everything’s a little more modest in size. It’s perfect for families with children, who want to sleep separately from the rest of the group, or even those who may want to escape for a little peace. Both the Villa and Cottage have access to the outside gardens, including a beautiful infinity pool, which overlooks the golf course and hills, BBQ and large outside dining space.
Surrounding both properties are also a variety of fruit trees, such as apples and figs, and lining the path between the two houses are an abundance of fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme – if you love to cook like me, you’ll enjoy being able to forage your own ingredients.
You may think that a villa sleeping eight people could get a little crowded, but not here. Each room, which has either a double or twin beds, also has its own ensuite bathroom, with a shower and toilet. Beds are incredibly comfortable, and there’s plenty of extra bedding and towels if needed. There’s also air conditioning in every room and each window in the house is netted (which can be removed) to keep out any night time bugs, as well as heavy wooden shutters – great for keeping the room cool during the day, but we rather liked sleeping with them open to watch the sunrise up over the hills in the morning.
Though we had full access to both villas when we stayed, we slept in the Cottage, which was every bit as comfortable. After long days out exploring in the summer heat, we crumbled happily into the crisp white sheets.
Being in such a remote place, I’d recommend hitting the supermarket in the local town before heading to the villa, especially when it’s equipped with such wonderful cooking areas. That said, there are a few local spots you can head to, including restaurant La Boiola, which is on the golf estate. It’s a lovely winding walk through the golf course and down to the restaurant, which is open all day to feed the many hungry golfers. We had the pleasure of enjoying a late lunch one afternoon, and it really did surpass our expectations.
As with all meals in Italy, fresh bread and olive oil are your pre-starter, starter – this olive oil was actually made for the Antognolla Estate and was a rich golden colour. We enjoyed this while speaking to the restaurant’s sommelier about the wines, soon settling on a bottle of local Trebbiano. This arrived, ice-cold, just in time for our starters: a platter of wonderful cured meats and cheese (way too much for two people), and a steak tartare, which came just as you’d expect… with a yolk on top!
For my main course, I had the grilled octopus, with a courgette purée, capers and creamed potato. I developed a bit of an obsession with grilled octopus in Italy and this was up there with the best – cooked perfectly and with a lovely charred BBQ flavour. My partner had a tender rump steak, which came with a mixture of vegetables and potato croquettes.
Dessert for me is always gelato, especially in Italy, so we had two scoops of chocolate each. It didn’t quite match up to what we had in Florence, but it was a very nice end to the meal.
Out and about
It’s recommended that you have a car when visiting Villa Capanne, because although there is plenty to do right on your doorstep, getting around by bike can be quite the challenge… as we found out. However, if you do want to rent bikes, then a lovely local man named Giovanni will deliver them to you for a small charge. He has everything from road bikes to mountain bikes and even e-bikes, and will also supply you with helmets, puncture repair kits and locks if you require them. We had a great day out exploring the local trails, climbing to the tallest peaks.
If riding bikes in 30-degree heat isn’t your idea of fun, then just down the road is Vineria del Carmine, a beautiful vineyard no more than 10 minutes from the property. This is also looked after by the owners of Villa Capanne, who are still restoring it from its original 16th-century structure. That said: it’s fully open for visitors, offering wine and food tastings, taken by the brilliant head sommelier, Mattia. We had a brilliant time learning about the local grapes, how the wines are made and of course, tasting them. And we really liked the food pairings: locally farmed cheeses, cured meats, homemade olive oil and truffle – lots of truffle – which they grow and collect locally too.
Hidden away in the rolling hills, we didn’t see very many people during our stay but those we did meet only added to our trip. The owners, David and Chrissie, greeted us at the station when we arrived and from then on were never more than a phone call away, helping us with even the most trivial of things… like the gas running out for the BBQ or how to open the main gate. The great thing about the Villa is that if you want total seclusion, you can have it; but if you want to meet people, experience the Umbrian culture, then towns and vineyards aren’t far away.
The best thing
For me, it’s got to be the abundance of fresh produce growing around the property. I love to cook and could happily spend night after night throwing dinner parties around the large dining table, cooking feasts on the BBQ and of course, drinking my new favourite Italian wine from Vineria del Carmine, Trebbiano Spoletino.
The worst thing
There really is very little I could fault Villa Capanne on. The air conditioning units are a little loud and clunky, but ultimately it’s a wonderful place to stay.
Rates vary depending on the season but in peak season you can rent the villa and the cottage for €5,500 PW, reducing to €2,300 PW in low season.
Further information about rates can be found here.