La Casella is close to the Tuscany/Umbria border, making it well positioned for visiting both regions. It is a 10 to 15 minute walk (or a three minute drive) from the tranquil village of Preggio, where nothing much happens outside the two annual festivals for which it is famous - opera and sacred music in the summer and chestnuts in the autumn. It is a quintessential hilltop village, with lovely views over woodland up into the hills in one direction and over rolling farmland in the other. There are two churches, one twelfth century, the other fifteenth (with a fresco attributed to Pinturricchio), a piazza, an eleventh century ruin, a couple of bars and a restaurant with terraces overlooking the peaceful countryside.
It is a very green, hilly, rural area, great for walking and cycling. Great swathes of oak, beech, hazel and chestnut woods cover much of the land and are home to a huge range of wildlife; boar, porcupines, hares, pine martens, foxes, badgers and even wolves. Birds of prey circle above the hills and swallows dive over the ponds and pools. At night you can hear crickets and frogs and in early summer the fields are full of wild flowers and fireflies. The air is fresh and clean and the sky at night is a wonder, with stars and shooting stars clearly visible. In the autumn the valleys smell of woodsmoke and in the mornings the hills rise like islands from lakes of mist.
Most of the local villages hold a festival or two throughout the year, but particularly in the summer, when you can eat and drink and dance in the local square, and enjoy whatever local delicacy is being celebrated; tagliatelle perhaps, or snails, onions, the new season's oil or the new wine. There are plenty of opportunities for tasting the local wines and olive oil and we can organise cooking lessons or a private chef for you.
At Lake Trasimeno, Italy's fourth largest lake, which is half an hour away, you can take a ferry or hire a boat out to the islands to swim, walk or eat, and if you're feeling more energetic you can go waterskiing, sailing, kite boarding or wake boarding, or just hire pedaloes. You can also hire bikes to do a circuit or two of the lake. The surrounding villages all have restaurants and bars, and in the summer there are jazz and blues festivals to enjoy. We can organise private yoga classes for you amid olive trees at a local yoga retreat across the valley.
There is beautiful architecture and lovely art in most of the local villages, but for a more concentrated experience of fantastic art Cortona is less than half an hour away, Perugia well under an hour and Siena and Assisi just over an hour. You can leave the house and be enjoying a cappuccino in central Florence in under two hours, and after a day of sightseeing leave the crowds behind and return to the peace of La Casella.
You might want to follow in the steps of Francis of Assisi or Piero della Francesca through the hills, or buy pottery from Deruta or look for bargains at the Gucci and Prada outlets on the way to Florence. There are antique and flea markets in Arezzo and Perugia and local markets in all the neighbouring towns.