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The particular advantage of Vasciano is that it is ringed with art and architectural jewels. In the house is a comprehensive library of maps, many guidebooks (including guides to Monasteries/Abbeys and Etruscan sites)

It is impossible to describe here all the magical places there are to visit but some of the better known towns and places of particular interest within easy reach are mentioned below. This gives just a taster of what there is to see.

Some of the main places


(30 mins)
A medieval walled hill top town containing a major Etruscan museum, and an art gallery with a small but select group of renaissance paintings including Fra Angelica’s “Annunciation”. There are bars, restaurant and a variety of interesting shops including a book shop with books in English. There are views of the lake and the Val di Chiana and a tree lined walk through a park and on around the town overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Perugia - Piazza 4 Novembre   Perugia
(45 mins)
The regional capital of Umbria and an old university town, built on the remains of an Etruscan town on top of a mountain. The Umbrian National Gallery contains a superb collection of the works of Piero della Francesca and Perugina. The piazza at the end of the Corso (Main Street) is surrounded by impressive medieval buildings with a beautiful large 14C fountain at its centre. At one end of the city a medieval medical herb garden, founded by the Benedictine monks of San Pietro has been recreated by the university. At the other end of town, reached by a spectacular pedestrian viaduct, is a very early circular church. Perugia has very fashionable clothing and shoe shops and is well known for its chocolates. There is an annual jazz festival (www.umbriajazz.com)
A hill town built of soft grey and pink stone and the birthplace of St Francis. The stunning Basilica di San Franscesco has two beautiful upper and lower churches. The upper church contains the Giotto fresco cycle of the lives of Jesus and St Francis. The lower church contains the tomb of St Francis and those of his earliest followers. The shops sell hand-woven and embroidered linen in traditional designs.
Nearby are: a hermiitage, Eremo dei Carceri, high on the hill above Assisi, one of St Francis’s peaceful places of retreat; and San Damiano, just below Assisi, the sensitively restored original convent of the Poor Clares. A tranquil haven.
Gubbio   Gubbio
An imposing fortified town made of huge carved grey stones. This impressive town is perched on the steep hillside and opens onto a spacious piazza with beautiful views down over a roman theatre and country side. A cable car can be taken to the summit itself with panoramic views and the pretty basilica of San Ubaldo. The shops specialise in hand painted ceramics, wrought iron work and archery artefacts.
(75 mins)
A Tuscan city whose principal street climbs its way steeply up a mountain spur to a beautiful piazza at the top. This street is lined with many shops selling artefacts and crafts. As the centre of an excellent wine producing area it is the place to buy Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Below the town is the renaissance masterpiece Il Tempieto di San Biagio. Near to this are the “cantine” where you can sample the local wines.
  Pienza - Palazzo Piccolomini Pienza
(20 mins beyond Montepulciano)
Reached by a road running along a high ridge with remarkable views. This pretty town was built by Pope Pius II as a model of renaissance urban planning.

Built on three hills and contained within its walls is a romantic medieval city. The shell shaped piazza is noted as the most beautiful medieval urban open space in Italy, with as its focal point the Palazzo Pubblico, containing Lorenzetti’s “Good and Bad Government”. At the top one of one of the hills there is the majestic black and white striped cathedral with the Piccolomini library. Beside it is the cathedral museum with Duccio’s “Maesta” considered by the sienese to be their greatest treasure. Siena is on of the best places for elegant clothing, smart handbags and shoes.

Between Siena and Montepulciano is the peaceful Abbazia di Monte Olivetto. This is working abbey and is pure renaissance with a fresco cycle of the life of San Benedetto and exquisite inlaid wood (intarsi) choir stalls. Yet again the setting and views are stunning.

Siena - Il Campo
Arezzo - Piazza Grande   Arezzo
Piero della Francesca’s frescos of “The Finding of the True Cross”.
San Sepolcro
Piero della Francesca’s birthplace. There is a small museum containing a collection of his famous works. Not far is Monterchi, home to Piero dell Francesca’s “The Pregnant Madonna”.
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