LE TRE VASELLE has both the views and local wines to boast of.
More than ever, seasoned travelers are finding that Umbria, in central Italy, is a perfect starting point for exploring some of everyone’s favorite places: Assisi, Siena, Cortona, Orvieto, Spoleto and Montefalco. Only two hours north of the Rome airport, the region is full of great wines and olive oils, along with medieval and Etruscan hill towns. From Umbria, visitors can easily continue by car or train to Florence, Lucca and the Cinque Terre.
Recently we visited a perennial favorite, Hotel Le Tre Vaselle in Torgiano, for an update, and listened poolside as American and international visitors admired the views and enjoyed the local wines. Of course, the five-star Le Tre Vaselle is closely tied to one of the best wineries in Italy, Lungarotti, so the wines on offer include highly rated DOCG and DOC vintages. (The Lungarottis opened a second winery near Montefalco a few years ago and their range now includes both DOCG-rated Umbrian reds).
The Lungarottis opened Le Tre Vaselle three decades ago as a way to house visitors to their nearby winery, as well as celebrities performing at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, five miles away. What began with a single 17th-century villa in the historic center of Torgiano is today a full-service resort spread over several buildings. With wine as the theme, there are tastings, wine tours, a wine museum with a medieval wine cellar, cooking classes with Chef Ciro D’Amico of Le Tre Vaselle’s Le Melograne restaurant, and the wonderful vinotherapy (wine treatments) at bellaUve (beauty from grapes), the resort’s Daniela Steiner Spa. GM Annamaria Palomba ([email protected]; 011-39-075-988-0447) runs a well-oiled machine that continues to impress guests from around the world.
In the last few years, Le Tre Vaselle has reduced the number of rooms from 75 to 52, resulting in larger rooms and suites. This allows for wonderful spaces such as Room No. 86 with its big bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and shower, the large private terrace and postcard view. Like all the rooms, the floors combine hardwood with area rugs. Another room to consider is Room No. 11, a two-level junior suite with a downstairs living room. Every room in the hotel is different and most have separate showers and bathtubs. There are five suites, all of which feature a separate living room with a fireplace, perfect for cool evenings. All the room amenities are made with red wines from Lungarotti, the winery run by three well-known female winemakers: Maria Grazia Lungarotti and her daughters, Teresa Severini and Chiara Lungarotti.
The spa was opened five years ago and is laid out like a cluster of grapes and decorated in greens and reds. There are seven treatment rooms and while there are a few other spas offering vinotherapy, this one is distinctive because the wine used is their own local product. Spa Manager Cristina Festa ([email protected]) began our treatment with a salt rub, followed by a steam bath. Next was a deep massage with grape seed oil. Then, the pièce de résistance: a soak in a wooden tub filled with 15 liters of warm water and three liters of vino rosso. Adding to the moment was a glass of Lungarotti red to sip in the bath—this is vinotherapy both inside and out, aptly named the Wine Dream. The spa is closed January–March.
Le Tre Vaselle can arrange transportation from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci (“Fiumicino”) airport and provides daily shuttle service from the hotel to Perugia and Assisi.
Pictured: RELAIS PARADISO offers a country setting near the medieval village of Torri.
A newcomer to Umbria is Relais Paradiso, a country villa formerly owned by the Counts of the Duranti family; the hotel had its soft opening on June 1, 2014 and officially opened with a party on July 26. Built in the 19th century, this residenza d’epoca has been completely restored by its new owners, Svetlana Karamanova and Aldo Paludi, and offers a country setting near the medieval village of Torri, halfway between Todi and Montefalco in the comune of Gualdo Cattaneo. The Relais produces its own wine and olive oil.
We watched the property take shape over more than two years and the result is an imposing main building, with original floors made from local stone throughout the lovely public spaces. There are 20 rooms here; the spa is located in an adjacent structure overlooking the pool. You should know there is an elevator for those preferring not to climb the travertine staircases. All rooms have a wine fridge, in keeping with the great variety of wines available in the region.
Pictured: AT LE TRE VASELLE, guests have the opportunity to relax by the outdoor swimming pool.
The largest room is Prestige No. 22, on the third floor of the villa. The décor is all whites and cream, with a sloping beamed ceiling and large bathroom with separate tub and shower; the original low attic windows offer light, but no view. Deluxe Rooms Nos. 5 and 15 both have two large windows overlooking the property, footed bathtubs and separate showers in spacious bathrooms, and continue the cream and white color scheme. (No. 15, on the second floor, has the better view). Room No. 1 on the first floor has windows in both bedroom and the bathroom, which has a large shower and no tub.
The spa is well-appointed, with six treatment rooms. By autumn 2014, a spa manager will join Dominika, the therapist.
Chef Alessandro Piras was lured from the chef academy in Terni and specializes in both traditional Umbrian cuisine and Asian dishes in the Il Giardino restaurant. He will organize special menus for spa visitors and will begin cooking classes in September. The restaurant is intimate and the menu reflects local favorites. It is open by reservation to non-hotel guests. Carlo in the bar offers Prosecco and conversation in English—he once worked in London.
Pictured: SOME ROOMS in Relais Paradiso have spacious bathrooms with large windows, bathtubs and separate showers.
Relais Paradiso is an ideal spot for those seeking a place away from the city, but easily accessible by car for those exploring the Umbrian wine routes. Contact Marketing Manager Emanuela Baldelli ([email protected]; 011-39-074-298-701; fax at 011-39-074-293-3258) for more information.
Access: Exploring Umbria
Called the Green Heart of Italy, Umbria is easily reachable by car from Rome or Florence. There is an airport in Perugia, which offers flights in and out of Milan, Rome, London and other destinations, as well as general aviation. The novelist Umberto Eco makes the argument that Umbria is the center of the universe; in any case, it is the center of central Italy.
Towns to visit in Umbria include Perugia, Orvieto, Assisi, Spoleto, Gubbio, Torgiano, Todi and Montefalco. There are Etruscan tombs, Roman ruins, lakes, nature trails, dozens of excellent wineries, and some of Italy’s best olive oil here, making the region a culinary tourism paradise. In summer, there are local festivals, including Umbria Jazz in Perugia and smaller music and food festivals in almost every small town and village.
For wine lovers, the annual Open Tasting weekend in the end of May is an opportunity to visit wineries across the area. The important reds include Sagrantino, Montefalco Rosso and the Torgiano reds. Whites include Orvieto Classico, Trebbiano Spoletino and Grechetto. Most major wineries have open cantinas throughout the year, where wines may be tasted and purchased. Some, such as Antonelli and Colle Ciocco near Montefalco, offer wine dinners.
In addition to Le Melograne Ristorante at Le Tre Vaselle, restaurants in the Torgiano area include: the casual Siro at Via G. Bruno, 16, Torgiano (011-39-075-982-010; fax at 011-39-075-988-0035); Ristorante Locanda Del Bracconiere at Via Borgo Garibaldi, 8, Deruta (011-39-075-972-353); and L’Antico Forziere at Casalina, Deruta (011-39-075-972-4314).
Pictured: LE TRE VASELLE has reduced the number of rooms from 75 to 52, resulting in larger rooms and suites.
Restaurants near Relais Paradiso include Le Noci at Via Torino, 6, Grutti (011-39-0742-98371); Antica Osteria De La Valle at Via Augusto Ciuffelli, 17-19, Todi (011-39-075-894-4848); La Cantina Del Mercataccio at Via del Mercato Vecchio, 1, Todi (011-39-075-894-4799); Vineria San Fortunato at Piazza Umberto I, 5, Todi; Enoteca Federico II at Piazza del Comune, 4, Montefalco (011-39-0742-378-902); Coccorone at L.go Tempestivi, 11, Montefalco (011-39-0742-379-535); and l’Alchimista Wine Bar at Piazza del Comune, 14, Montefalco (011-39-0742-378-558).
Shopping in the area surrounding both hotels includes majolica ceramics in Deruta, where there are dozens of shops and studios; jacquard linens in multiple boutiques in Montefalco; black truffles, olive oil and wine in specialized food shops in every town, as well as in Le Tre Vaselle itself; and cashmere factory stores, the most famous of which is Brunello Cucinelli, located in the restored medieval town of Solomeo near Perugia.