We’ve just explored Umbria and Marche.
|The Marquis’s Suite at Marchese Del Grillo has four closets in the bathroom depicting the four seasons.|
In Gubbio, where Umbria comes closest to its border with Marche, the Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini on Via Tifernate takes us back 500 years without taking away our 21st-century pleasures and amenities. The high stone walls and meandering passages may have offered simple living to the monks, but no longer—now modern Italian art lines the walls and the Cappuccini Wellness Center serves up an Aveda experience unforeseen in the 1600s.
This hotel’s accommodations, which include five suites, are divided between the original monastery building and the new extension, which was designed to look as old as the original. Room No. 312 is a Superior room with an Art Deco flavor. There is a king bed, lots of closet space, deep tub for soaking and serious air conditioning. Junior Suite 404 is lovely, with a draped baldacchino (canopy) bed and a comfy sofa. There is a separate dressing room and a large bath with a tub. The suite can be combined with No. 404, a Superior room, to create an apartment with a private entrance. Ask for one of the three Standard rooms (Nos. 508, 506 or 504) if you’d like a balcony overlooking the cloister in the old building.
The two-year-old Wellness Center has a serene environment featuring a full spa with Finnish saunas, emotional showers, massage, Mediterranean bath and an array of beauty treatments. Within the spa is a private mini-spa, where a small group of couples may experience treatments together. We loved the huge heated indoor pool which leads out to the roof terrace. As the hotel is open all year, this is a boon to swimmers who travel in the cooler seasons.
|Residenza La Ceramica has 12 rooms designed with hints of both Paris and Italy.|
We stayed in for dinner at Ai Cappuccini. Chef Ivano Monni prepared delectable Umbrian and Italian specialties in a room where Italian artist Giuseppe Cappagrossi’s work punctuates the minimalist décor. Cappagrossi, a Roman, lived in the hotel in the 1950s and paid for his keep by creating frescoes and paintings. His imagery makes up the hotel’s logo and decorates the Rosenthal china used in the ristorante.
Attilio Bonifazi ([email protected]; 011-39-075-9234, ext. 124) is sales and marketing manager at Ai Cappuccini and Giuseppe Uccellani (ext. 122) is guest relations manager. One may contact the spa (ext. 602), too.
We left Gubbio and ventured 20 miles east through the mountains into Marche, stopping at Fabriano, the home of Italy’s most famous fine-paper producer. Hidden on a narrow street in the center of town, not far from the wonderful paper museum, is the 12-room Residenza La Ceramica at Via Ceramica, 10, a jewel box of contemporary design within an ancient structure.
Unlike most destinations, Fabriano is actually quieter and more accessible on the weekends than during the week, when international business travelers arrive for meetings. The Residenza is so discreet that if you don’t know about it, you won’t know it’s there. Every room is beautifully done, with hints of both Paris and Italy. The public spaces add a touch of Morocco to Italian contemporary.
|Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini’s pool is part of the hotel’s two-year-old Wellness Center.|
The refined Parigi (Paris) Suite has a baldacchino bed draped in cream linen, while the more fanciful Pechino (Beijing) Suite is stripes and grays. We could have spent a night in either.
Breakfast is served either in the lime-accented dining area or in the atrium but there is no restaurant. No problem, because we discovered a restaurant we loved: Lucia Dolce’s Salsamentaria, Viale Pietro Miliani 16, where we dived into the mezzaluna agli agrumi, pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese, grated lemon and orange peel and topped with bits of Lucia’s prosciutto. The family of Reginaldo Sentinelli, Lucia’s great grandfather, has been making classic salami and prosciutto since 1875. E-mail [email protected] or call 011-39-0732-250754.
The Residenza La Ceramica provides parking for its guests, which is a nice touch when navigating the winding innards of an old Italian town. The hotel is open all year except for two weeks in August and the Christmas holiday. Contact Claudio Baldassini (011-39-0732-4136) to discuss details.
Outside of Fabriano, the D’Alesio family’s Relais Marchese del Grillo, built circa 1771, is a beautifully restored villa with six formal suites on the piano nobile. The former caretaker’s house has been restored and is more rustic, with six rooms and two suites. The entire property would be a romantic wedding venue and the owners are accustomed to catering for hundreds. The hotel has no pool but does have a large covered terrace and pretty gardens.
|Marchese Del Grillo’s Countess’s Suite once belonged to the Countess Vallemani.|
We were especially taken by the Contessa Suite (Nos. 305 and 306), which has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living room. Even the glassed shower showcases restored frescoes. Though it’s possible to rent the bedrooms separately, a bride would surely need both, one for sleeping and the other for putting on her wedding gown surrounded by a dozen bridesmaids. Across the hall is the Marchese Suite (No. 301), a one-bedroom confection destined for honeymooners. The suite has a living room, cherubs on the frescoed ceilings above the canopied bed, and a huge bathtub backed with an intricate mosaic design.
Contact Marco D’Alesio ([email protected]; 011-39-388-947-1913) to arrange reservations or special events.
Here’s a tip for a great itinerary: When driving south from Florence or north from Rome on the A1 highway, get off at Valdichiana and go east, stopping off in Cortona at the Borgo Il Melone, then continuing to Gubbio via Umbertide to stay at Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini, and then to Fabriano for a night or two at Residenza La Ceramica or Marchese del Grillo. The route takes you via the town of Tuoro into the mountains, where you must stop at Il Scoiattolo (011-39-0758-44119) at La Cima for lunch. The view of Lake Trasimeno is fantastic and the country food is delicious.