I am learning to like surprises. No scrap that, I really mean LOVE them, and can you blame me when a stunning holiday somewhere in Italy is the surprise – it is hard to be anything but heart-eyed.
If you have been reading the blog for a while you will already be familiar with our Italian anniversary trip tradition and I am pleased to say it is still going strong.
If you are a new reader, basically Will and I honeymooned in Italy three years ago and fell in love with the country. We vowed to come back and explore more of it bit by bit.
Now each year we take it in turns to plan a trip to a surprise location in Italy, and this year it was Will’s turn to surprise me.
I must admit, we had to bend the rules a little this year – with our first baby due to arrive in September we had to bring our trip forward a couple of months but all the usual rules still applied.
Which basically means I had no idea where we were going until we arrived at the airport!
We checked in….our flight was to Rome…
But Will was quick to let me know Rome wasn’t our actual destination!
He’d hired a car and we had a few hours drive once we landed. He kept me in suspense, but I did find out across the ten day trip there would be two different locations.
Lunch in Rome
Luckily for me, he’d realised I would be starving when we landed and booked us in for lunch at Il Giardino Ristorante on the roof of Hotel Eden in Rome City Centre.
The views were gorgeous, the service outstanding and the food absolutely delicious. It was a salad bar buffet restaurant (but in a very, very well done fancy way) and they also served you pasta of the day which was possibly the best pasta dish I have ever eaten and sadly have no idea how to recreate.
If you are visiting Rome, I really recommend stopping for lunch here.
Fun fact: this was the second time we have had a whistle-stop lunch in Rome, but never actually visited the city! I need to put that right soon!
After lunch we jumped back in the car and Will navigated his way out of the crazy busy city roads. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and promptly fell asleep for the best part of the rest of the journey, only waking long enough at intervals to see the road stretch out in front of us and no discernible indication of where we were headed.
It wasn’t until we pulled up and our hotel host came to greet us that I found out where we would be spending the first half of our trip…
My guide to Umbria
Umbria is known as Italy’s green heart and I can absolutely understand why. There were green hills as far as the eye could see and honey coloured medieval towns perched amongst them.
Where to stay in Umbria
We stayed at Torre di Moravola, a beautifully restored and updated medieval watchtower. It was remotely set in the hills with glorious uninterrupted views from all angles.
The hotel was small with only a handful of rooms and so it felt very quiet and restful and had the most fabulous pool area. It is owned and run by husband and wife team and was more like staying at someone’s house than a hotel. Chris was not only was the architect (and assisted with the build!) but was also a very talented chef.
I was seriously blown away by the food and we ate there every night they offered an evening meal.
What to do in Umbria
We consciously decided not to push ourselves too hard in exploring as it was one of the last trips before Bambino arrives and we wanted to make the most of relaxing as just the two of us, but we did visit a number of the towns and hotspots in Umbria.
This was such a gorgeous medieval hilltop town which has religion very close to its heart – you’re likely to see many nuns, monks and pilgrims as it is the birth place of two saints, St Francis and St Clare. There is a plethora of art and historically significant buildings, like the Basilica di San Francesco, but Will and I preferred to wander the streets taking in the beautiful buildings and enjoying the excellent Gelato on offer.
We stopped for lunch in the Nun Hotel, which looked like a gorgeous place to stay if you wanted to be within a town rather than out in the sticks like our hotel was.
Catch up on our previous Italy trips
Honeymoon, Amalfi Coast: Monastero Santa Rosa
Year one, Puglia: Exploring Puglia | Staying at Nina Trulli
Year two, Tuscany: Part 1 | Part 2
We also visited the Dolomites, not for an anniversary, but it was spectacular: Visiting the Dolomites, South Tyrol
Città di Castello
We wandered in to this town for dinner one evening stopping for a drink in the square before hand. It was Saturday night, and the locals were out in their finery, taking a stroll to see and be seen! Live music was playing and there was a real atmosphere!
We ate at Trattoria Lea which is a unfussy family run restaurant that specialises in the local/Umbria speciality; truffle!
It was jam-packed in there with big tables of exuberant Italians celebrating one thing or another. I ordered the truffle gnocchi which was delicious although slightly marred by the fact I had a panic (after the food arrived) whether truffle was safe for pregnant women to eat. I never quite got to the bottom on whether it was or not so I didn’t eat much of it much to my own disdain!
I didn’t take any pictures of our night out, but I did wear a dream of a dress that Will took some pictures of me in before we left the hotel.
This was our closest town/village and it was so sweet and pretty. Sitting high up on a hill, it is a typical Umbrian walled town full of charm. There is a small square with a handful of places to eat and drink.
We had both lunch and dinner here, and by all accounts all of the places to eat are good and well respected.
I loved wandering the pretty streets, especially during golden hour when the setting sun turned everything a glorious honey colour.
We visited this lake one morning and although it was lovely and warm, we were sadly greeted to dull grey skies which didn’t showcase the lake to its best.
We stopped for a coffee at Passignano sul Trasimeno and contemplated getting a boat to Isola Maggiore, but decided against it, making our way over to Perugia for a spot of lunch before retreating back to our idyllic pool for an afternoon of napping and floating on this amazing creation/hideous monstrosity (delete as applicable).
I must admit, I wouldn’t hurry back to the lake.
We spent lovely few hours here, enjoying a late lunch and a meander around the streets. It wasn’t as big as I was expecting, and there were escalators up the hills to get to the town which this mama-to-be was so grateful for in the heat!
And so, our time in Umbria came to an end and our next destination was still a surprise to me!
Tune in for my next post to see where it was!