Umbria Blog | Prehistory and the Abbey of Farneta

On a beautiful sunny day in April I participated in a guided walk in the area of the Abbey of Farneta. Farneta is a small hamlet in the valley next to the Trasimeno lake in Umbria, the Val di Chiana. Coming from the A1 or from Siena, driving towards Lake Trasimeno and Perugia many times I just drove by and never bothered to take the exit for “Abbazia di Farneta”. But now I did …

In a landscape of gentle hills, typical of the Val di Chiana, stands an old Romanesk Church. Once it was a Benedictine Abbey of which one can still see some remaining walls. For 65 years, from 1937 to 2002, the church belonging to the abbey has had the same pastor. Don Sante Felici was a very unique man who not only led his parish with much verve. He was also very interested in ancient times and made sure that the Abbey of Farneta was preserved from downfall.

The Etruscans left many remnants in this area and the pastor made sure that the cellars underneath the church were dug out. And he was right: nowadays one can visit the crypt underneath the altar dating back to pre-roman times. Legend goes that when digging they found enormous amounts of human skeletons and living snakes; an image of Dante’s inferno.

Our walk continued from the Abbey to the former school building of Farneta where to my surprise a small paleontology museum is made with … yes … prehistoric fossils, all found near Farneta! Who would have thought: a million years ago the Val di Chiana valley was a savannah where elephants, hyenas and rhinoceros lived. Even longer ago, the whole environment was a sea. In the museum you can see many fossil shells, but also bones of prehistoric elephants, fossilized feces of hyenas and more.

But why in Farneta? That certainly involves the pastor – through the stories of our guide I imagine a kind of Don Camillo. In the 1950s and 1960s the construction of the A1 took place for which a lot of sand was needed. In later years the same happened again with the construction of the highway Siena-Perugia. In the area one excavated a lot of ground for the construction of these new roads.

Don Sante made arrangements with the workmen: they had to warn him if they found bones or other valuable relics. In this way, even two whole skeletons of prehistoric elephants were found, which are now in the paleontological museum of Florence. To this day farmers in the area or workmen during new construction projects find prehistoric bones or Etruscan remains.

It is thanks to the erudite priest Don Sante that many relics found around Farneta can be seen today. His heritage is now managed by a voluntary organization.

Our guide was Laura Gremoli. If you would like more information about the Etruscans and the history around the Val di Chiana, then let yourself be guided by Laura. She has an incredible knowledge and is a passionate story teller. I already experienced this at a guided tour about Etruscans at the Maec museum of Cortona. She is an inexhaustible source of information. You can call her on + 39 3494949604, or email info@cortonatouristguide.com. She speaks English.

Umbria Blog | Meeting our Belgian friends

Last year I’ve met some families from Belgium who stay in Montone, Umbria @ Montone Rental. It is one of their favorite holiday destinations in Italy. This agriturismo has a total of 5 rental units with shared pool, barbecue and tennis court.

In August 2015 we went together for a wine tasting in Montepulciano where we drank a few glasses of quality wines before eating at the sagra in a small village close to Montepulciano, Tuscany. A wonderful experience.

On a Wednesday during their holiday they always come to Castiglione del Lago for the local market and for some fishing along the lake. Also this time I’ve made a reservation for them at the restaurant Le Scalette. In this restaurant especially the local fish cuisine is delicious!

It is a real family restaurant “Le Scalette”. The mamma is the chef cook and the son and daughter in law do the rest at the restaurant. When you’re around don’t forget to pass by for a lunch or dinner. Really recommended!

The owners of Le Scalette are from Castiglione del Lago. They are more than friendly. They told me that Le Scalette was mentioned in one of most important restaurant guides of the world: Routard. I can’t remember the edition, 2015 or 2016, but this guide is comparable with the Michelin guide for restaurants.

Le Scalette Restaurant in Umbria

The owners of restaurant Le Scalette

Address of restaurant Le Scalette:
Osteria Le Scalette
Via XXV Aprile, 24
Castiglione del Lago (Perugia)
Umbria
tel. +39075953113

My Belgian friends enjoyed their holiday in Umbria, and I enjoyed meeting them in Castiglione del Lago for the second time. One year has passed by… already!

Watch this interview with Steven about Umbria, Villa in Umbria and Montone Rental. During their holiday they went to Gubbio, Assisi but also to Fano at the Adriatic coast. As you can see, there is so much to explore in and around Umbria!

Tulip event in Castiglione del Lago

This year was the 50th edition of the Festa del Tulipano in Castiglione del Lago. The event always takes place in April and attracts many people year after year.

Festa del Tulipano

Festa del Tulipano

This year’s theme was Walt Disney: Winnie the Pooh, Cinderella, Dombo and The Little Mermaid were all adorned with tulip leaves. The floats are really well made and some even have moving parts.

Festa del Tulipano

Festa del Tulipano

I live in the centre of Castiglione del Lago which usually is a quiet little town, but during the tulip event Castiglione del Lago is really crowded with people. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of the most visited events in Castiglione during the year.

Outside the old town walls one can buy some really good street food. Bars, shops and restaurants are open from noon till dawn. A very well organized festival held in the historical centre of Castiglione del Lago, with live music, theatre and fun for everybody.

Festa del Tulipano

Restaurant tips in Castiglione del Lago

In Castiglione del Lago one find many nice restaurants and trattoria’s. I have tried so many of them! These are the two restaurants close to my house I’d really recommend:

Ristorante Pizzeria La Cantina

La Cantina is a restaurant in the centre of Castiglione del Lago. In Spring and Summer one can eat outside on the terrace with view over the Trasimeno Lake. The pizza’s, fish and dolci are delicious!
Ristorante La Cantina, Via Vittorio Emanuale 93 in Castiglione del Lago

La Cantina Castiglione del Lago

Castiglione del Lago

Ristorante Osteria Le Scalette

Another good restaurant in Castiglione del Lago is Le Scalette. This is a family restaurant just outside the walls. The grandparents of the family prepare the best and fresh traditional Umbrian cuisine for their guests. You will be licking your fingers after you’ve finished your dinner here. Very good. I have written a blog post about this restaurant.

Holiday houses near to Castiglione del Lago

If you would like to visit this yearly event in April, and you’re looking for a place to stay, have a look at these wonderful locations:

Casa Paciano: It is at walking distance from Paciano. A beautiful holiday house with apartments, private terraces and shared pool with view over the Umbrian hills.

The owners were always ready and willing to give some advice so we could make the most of our time in Umbria. Excellent location to combine relaxation with culture.”

casa paciano holiday umbria

Casa Valdichiana: Surrounded by sunflower fields, olive trees and vineyards. An idyllic holiday house with apartment and shared pool, new on our website. The views are breathtaking.

casa Valdichiana garden

Private villa’s

Trasimeno Bungalow: A private bungalow with swimming pool for max 4 persons. From this address you’re at walking distance from the Trasimeno Lake and 5 minutes drive from the road E45. A supermarket is almost literally at a stone’s throw.

A lovely and well equipped house. We’ve spent a lot of hours at the swimming pool.

trasimeno bungalow in Tuoro sul Trasimeno

Casa Lago Trasimeno: A modern private holiday home with pool sleeping 4 guests in Tuoro sul Trasimeno. From the balcony you have wonderful views over the lake.

Again we had a wonderful stay in a fantastic holiday home”.

Casa Lago Trasimeno