Explore the Region

I Lecci straddles the border of two magnificent regions - Tuscany and Umbria. The house looks onto Tuscany with its lyrical setting of cypress and pine, but sits in Umbria. Known as the 'Green Heart of Italy' Umbria is famed for its verdant rolling countryside and exquisite medieval hill-towns. Adored by visitors yet completely unspoilt, it exudes peace and serenity. Historically the land of saints and painters, Umbria has produced many of Italy's most revered figures such as saints Francis, Clare, and Benedict and painters Pinturicchio and Perugino, and many of the country's most impressive shrines such as Assisi's Basilica and the masterpiece of Orvieto's Duomo.

Both Umbria and Tuscany are steeped in World Heritage sites. Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, Cita della Pieve and Arezzo all make wonderful, rewarding day trips while the following places are all within a one-hour drive of the house.

Cortona – 20 minutes

One of the original Etruscan capitals, Cortona is more famous these days as the setting for Francis Mayes' delightful book “Under The Tuscan Sun”. It’s the quintessential walled town, clinging to the hillside above the Val di Chiana. Simply soak up the atmosphere in the bars and piazzas or climb through the ancient alleyways and streets to the top of the town for a breathtaking view. Don’t miss the Diocesan museum and Fra Angelico’s Annunciation.

Montepulciano – 20 minutes

You can see Montepulciano from the house and in fact don’t even have to get out of bed if you're in the upstairs bedroom. The highest town in Tuscany, it sits just across the valley, perching majestically on the opposite hilltop. Montepulciano is the centre of the famous wine-producing region of the same name and home of the celebrated Vino Nobile. Stroll along the narrow cobbled streets to soak up the atmosphere and don't miss the Piazza Grande at the very top of the town, with its magnificent cathedral and civic buildings.

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Assisi – 40 minutes

Eight hundred years after his death the stories of St Francis’s great humanity still move us. A place of great spirituality, this beautiful hilltop city of pilgrimage is a magnificent shrine to his memory.

Castiglione del Lago & Lago Trasimeno – 10 minutes

Legend has it that Prince Trasimeno, son of the etruscian king Tirreno, met the nymph Agilla on these shores. Their great love ended in his tragic death. It is said that when the breeze caresses the water you can hear Agilla’s melancholy lament as she cries for her beloved. Castiglione del Lago was once the fouth island of the lake but over the years merged into the mainland. The historical centre has been well preserved and provides good views of the lake. The castle, completed in 1247 was designed to give its owners strategic control over the lake and has withstood a number of sieges!

Perugia – 30 minutes

The capital of Umbria looks out over the valley of the Tiber. A walled city, it is Italy's largest fortress and now a vibrant university city with all the style and sophistication you can expect from one of the country’s major capitals.

Orvieto – 50 minutes

The hill town of Orvieto, set on a natural pedestal of volcanic rock, lives up to its elevated position. It is unspoilt, uncrowded and home to some of the most beautiful buildings in Italy, including the breathtaking Orvieto cathedral

La Foce, Chianciano – 30 minutes

This world famous estate was bought by the Anglo-American writer and intellectual Iris Origo, and her husband Antonio, in 1924. The magnificent gardens designed and laid out by English architect Cecil Pinset are open to the public once a week. Here you can enjoy breathtaking views across the Val d’Orcia and beyond, towards the extinct volcano of Mt. Amiata.

Mt. Amiata – 40 minutes

If it’s wild countryside you are after, head for the Val d’Orcia and the extinct volcano of Mt. Amiata– visible in the distance from the house. Over 6000 feet high, the mountain offers the seasoned walker a range of tracks and spectacular views from its summit. On the way home stop at the beautiful town of Pienza famous for its Pecorino cheese.

Isola Maggiore, Lake Trasimeno

A short boat trip across Lake Trasimeno from Passignano sul Trasimeno brings you to this tiny inhabited island, which St Francis of Assisi once used as a retreat. Famous for its lace making, the island women can still be seen at home with their needlecraft.

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