Thumbs Up: Lodging in Levanto & Umbria

May 26th, 2006, 12:59 AM
  #1  
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Thumbs Up: Lodging in Levanto & Umbria

My friends and I just returned from a 15 day trip of a lifetime!

Before I get started on a trip review, so pleased were we with two particular places that I had to put a special word out for them.

First, for those of you looking to escape the crowds in Cinque Terre, try making Levanto your base. It's got a lovely beach, pretty sidestreet shops and you can hop on a train and get to the furthest village Riomaggiore in 10 minutes or so.

We stayed in a lovely agriturismo called L'Erba Persa (website: http://www.erbapersa.it/erbapersa2inglese.htm). Owned by Grazia and her husband who live in a separate part of the building, the house is about 20 minutes' slow walk to the beach.Grazia speaks English and was the most helpful and gracious host in our entire trip.

I think it's sort of a farm too. They grow flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits. The lemons are HUGE!

We paid EUR50 for a twin room per night. You get a generous spread of continental breakfast included in the price. They make their own jams and the croissants were heavenly!!! Seriously the best we had in Italy.

Our bedroom is the one you can see on their website. Has a very nice story-book feel.

As for Umbria, please do check out the fabulous Le Case Gialle near Gualdo Cattaneo (website: http://www.lecasegialle.it/index_ing.htm). Thanks to Annabelle's glowing recommendation in this forum, I decided to go for it and my goodness, it's even better than it looks in the website.

The owners Mauro and Silvana were very helpful and they've done a wonderful job of creating lodgings that can truly be called "home" for the duration of your stay.

We stayed in L'Acquaio which is the one nearest to the pool. It's very very cosy, painted in cheery yellow. At sunrise, the little porch outside is bathed in a warm glow.

The best part was being able to pick your own herbs from the surroundings. THere was oregano, rosemary, bay and sage literally on our doorstep. Teamed with the lovely welcome gifts that we received on our arrival (lemon, garlic, walnuts- so fresh!, onions, Case Gialle's excellent olive oil, honey, jam, Montefalco wine), we had ourselves wonderful meals. Ah..the memories.

I took to thinking of L'Acquaio as "our house in Umbria". Lovely lovely lovely.

SPKC is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 06:43 AM
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SPKC, I too stayed at Le Case Gialle, back in March, based mostly on Annabelle's recommendation and posted a thank you to her once I got back. I loved our stay there, and I'm glad you did as well. Oh, to be sitting on our balcony overlooking the olive trees and umbrian hills again.....

Sounds like you have a great time!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 08:30 AM
  #3  
DRJ
 
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Glad you liked LCG. We've stayed there a half dozen times. In fact, I'm Mauro's US agent for exporting his olio olivo. (But I've never been asked to do anything at all. Just some export-import thing I guess.)
DRJ is offline  
May 26th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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Hi SPKC and Tracy!

This post caught my eye as I was procrastinating. How fun to read about two great places that I love.

So glad you liked Le Case Gialle; it was one year ago that I was there celebrating my birthday (the 23rd) with dear friends. What good memories. I can smell those herbs you mention! Silvana told us how to dip the sage leaves into proscecco and flour and lightly fry them. Yum!

Were the fireflies out in the olive grove yet?

It was thanks to generous comments of posters like DRJ (thanks DRJ) and others here and on Slow Travel that I found LCG in the first place, so what goes around...

Also glad you enjoyed Levanto. I agree; like you, we found it a good coastal location. Your agriturismo sounds like a great find. Will check out the site.

DRJ: If you read this, how can I get LCG's olive oil in the US? I have one little bottle left that I am hoarding...

Now I will happily spend the rest of the day getting little done and remembering the view of Montefalco across the green hills, the cuckoos waking us up too early in the morning, the unsalted bread none of us liked but we kept eating anyway, the full moon, way too many bottles of wine, the guitars Silvana lent us (and probably regreted doing so, esp after we drank those bottles of wine).

Ahhhh, bella Italia.
annabelle2 is offline  
May 27th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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SPKC, thanks so much for validating our decision to stay in Levanto! We didn't consider L'erba pesa because it's not a/c and we will be there end of June. We are staying at Garden Hotel across from the beach, right in the town. Did you see it? any recommendations for restaurants in Levanto or CT, or any suggestions since you were just there? thanks.
alison is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 12:45 AM
  #6  
 
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Dear Umbria lovers. We too will be at Casa Gialle this June, very soon. Six nights with our three teens. Please, if you did something in the area that you thought was special or if you have a favorite restaurant that would work for a family. Please let me know. I would also like to hear of favorite hill towns. Thanks for everything.
hookedtogo is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 02:44 AM
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Oh anabelle, isn't it absolutely fantastic to be able to share the memories with someone who knows exactly what you're talking about?

I saw a lone firefly one night when I took a walk by myself under the full moon. The air was brisk and as I neared the darkened path towards the pool, I saw it. Winking at me with its little light!

And the cuckoo! One morning it suddenly struck me that the soft "cuckoo, cockoo" we had been hearing all morning WASNT a cuckoo clock, cos it wasnt ocurring on the hour! A real cuckoo...imagine that. I've never before thought of cuckoos as real birds (don't have em where I'm from)

Thanks also for the tip to drive all the way to the San Antimo abbey for the Gregorian chants. We got lost several times and so it was a pretty long drive, but so very worth it. The accoustics of the abbey was amazing and listening to the chanting, live, was almost a spiritual experience in itself.

Oh and the daily bread that awaited us each morning. None of us liked it but we soldiered on with practically sawing through it each morning and having it with copious amounts of gravy from our stew We even have a video of one of us hacking into the loaf!

Alison - Yup, I saw Garden Hotel...it's literally a hop, skip n jump to the beach. As well as to a charming park in the little piazza, perfect for resting as you have a gelato. There are at least 2 gelato shops at the hotel's doorstep. I don't think you'll regret it, unless you get a room facing the street. It seemed pretty busy (pedestrian wise) during the day.

If you're arriving by train, it'll take about 10-15 minutes walk on mostly flat ground to the hotel. So excited for you!!

I'll post again later about the places we ate at cos the info's all at home.

Hookedtogo - How wonderful! Which house are you staying at? Portico is probably a good one for you, with your teens, cos the verandah is huge.

Hilltowns that are a very easy drive away are Bevagna (so peaceful), Gualdo Cattaneo (2 minutes to drive around and has a nice stout castle-y looking tower), Montefalco (we didn't go, but you should if you like wine and er..mummies, apparently), Spello (incredible views of the countryside) and Assisi (very pretty despite the ever-present scaffolding here and there).

There's a really good pizzeria/trattoria in the nearby village of Bastardo...will post again later with the name.

SPKC is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 12:01 PM
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SPKC, we will have a car, which is part of the reason we selected Levanto to stay -- easier access for day trips. we have a 5th floor room with terrace facing the sea at Garden Hotel, and they have insisted it is quiet. TWO gelato shops at my doorstep....just what i need. good thing we'll be hiking. Also, when you post restaurant reviews, please post any good info about which hikes you took in which direction. thanks so much!
alison is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 12:12 PM
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ooooh! Wonderful recommendations. I've bookmarked the sites already!
LadyOLeisure is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 04:20 PM
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hookedtogo, we ate at two wonderful restaurants in Montefalco, although right now their names are escaping me. They are both next to each other, and I believe owned by the same people. We also ate in Bevanga at Ottavius one night, and I had the best gnocci I ever eaten....wonderful! If you click on my screenname you should find my trip report of Umbria and Rome from March of this year. I have lots of info on where we ate and what we did in the surrounding areas.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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Please keep posting - this sounds so wonderful
wombat7 is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 10:45 PM
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Hi,
Thank you for the great suggestions. We leave mid June (yikes) so nervous!
We will be staying in Il Sartino and I'lsoina. I hope these two cottages will work for our family. I am a little nervous about our lack of planned tours. The prices of the tours are very high. So, if anyone out there has suggestions on what to do in Umbria with 3 teens ...Thanks
After Umbria we will drive to Florence (2) nts train to Venice (6)nts, train to Rome (6) Nts. Should we buy our train tkts online?
hookedtogo is offline  
May 29th, 2006, 11:13 PM
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hookedtogo:
In Montefalco we ate delicious pasta w/ the local saffron cheese at L'Alchimista right in the main square.

In Bevagna we had a fun and delicious meal (except for excessively salty lamb) at Osteria Podesta. This would be a fun place for your whole family for a special meal -- nice owners! We also bought wonderful fresh pasta in Bevagna (Silvana can tell you the name of the place) to cook ourselves, and yummy pastries (we did most of our food shopping in Bevagna).

There are walks/hikes you can do right from Le Case Gialle that your kids might enjoy. Mauro and Silvana know so much to do in the area, I am sure they can help suggest some fun stuff to do with your family. Make sure to leave some time to hang at the pool and just enjoy the place.
SPKC:
Yes, it is so fun to share memories, especially since my friends (except the ones who went w/me) are sick of hearing about LCG! I love your story about the cuckoo "clock"!
Alison:
I think you will enjoy Levanto, it has a nice feel to it...
annabelle2 is offline  
May 30th, 2006, 10:41 AM
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Hi everybody!

Alison, in Levanto we had lunch at a place called Cafe del Mar which is abt a minute's walk from your hotel, facing the square/playground. Photo of the piazza here http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6...nto%20park.jpg

We had our first taste of the region's famed pesto with a very region-specific pasta called trofie. Delicious. And the salumi mista (a selection of salami) was absolutely delicious. Photo here http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6...lami%20mix.jpg
The pasta, salumi, a tuna & tomato panini, one cafe latte and 2 iced coffees came to about 24 euro.

For dinner, we ate at Ristorante Ustaia du Boss, a 5 - 8 minute walk from the Cafe heading twds the train station. The roasted swordfish was divine! Pictures here, together with other photos of our meals in Florence http://tompok.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-food.html

We only did one hike, from Romaggiore to Manarola. That's only 1km and is the easiest. I read in a few guides that the best approach is to walk from Romaggiore towards Monterosso (by the way, it's considered a national park, so 3 euros for entry/use), because it's less uphill and the sun is behind you.

Hookedtogo - Silvana and Mauro are the best resources for recommendations. They're really very helpful. Silvana was so kind, one of us was having a sore throat and we asked her for more of her honey, fully intending to pay, but she gave us another 2 bottles for no charge. And she didn't charge us for heating one night when it was unusually cold for May.

The pizzeria in Bastardo is called O Sole Mio, I recommend the pizza called the Vesuvius (has a runny egg yolk in the centre).

We did most of our groceries at Bastardo cos it was such an easy drive (abt 6 km).
SPKC is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 07:57 PM
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thank you for the Levanto restaurant recommendations. the swordfish looks great -- don't eat meat, so the salami didn't do anything for me.
alison is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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Thanks for the information on l'erba persa... I've been searching for accomodation for a girlfriend of mine who really wants to see the Cinque Terre, but thought she could only afford a hostel. It looks fabulous!!
amarena is offline  

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