It is difficult to believe that next month we will celebrate the two year anniversary of owning our two Umbrian farmhouses! It is really shocking how quickly time flies, and although our first season of renting to guests in 2009 was a short one due to getting the house in order, we just completed our first complete season in Umbria this fall, and I’m pleased to say was a busy yet extremely rewarding one! We only rent out Il Casale di Mele while we are in residence which is basically from May 1st until November 1st. Not really expecting a full quota of bookings on our first full season we set what we felt was a realistic goal this year and were extremely pleased that we surpassed our goal and then some. We have the unique and enjoyable opportunity to meet new people every time a new group arrives at the farmhouse, and I must say that we have been extremely blessed having the absolute best guests over the past two seasons from all across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and even as far away as Hong Kong.
While in Umbria the past six months, our lives fell into a schedule each week of visiting local markets, and cleaning Il Casale di Mele as one group of guests left and we prepared for new ones to arrive, including doing all the laundry and ironing that entails. I also prepare dinner for guests when requested, bake special treats for them throughout the week, and my husband is responsible for taking care of the exterior of the two houses and the gardens that surround them. Our property is a fairly large one with almost a hundred olive trees, plus two large yards of grass and plenty of landscape plants so we are busy each week outside keeping up with plants as they flourish throughout our season there. On weekends, we tried to take advantage of the local festivals and sagras held throughout the region and did most of our site seeing then. Although newly decorated and in great shape, owning two stone farmhouses generally means we have a long “to do” list of additional things we’d like to add, or changes we’d like to make that we hope to cross off our list each season. This year we added new custom made drapes to the rental farmhouse, permanent awnings over the outdoor dining areas, a built in barbeque for guests, and my favorite addition of all was a wonderful sun sail we had installed over our immense pool terrace that is sturdy enough to withstand the strong breezes we get and that allows our guests to enjoy shade during the warmest part of the day. For my anniversary I requested a HUGE clothes line as I generally wash and iron five sets of sheets a week and am pleased to say I can hang out all of my laundry at one time and nothing smells better than sheets dried out in the sunshine! You know you have become a country girl when your husband offers you a new watch as a gift and you request a clotheline instead!
We will spend the next six months back in North America and will happily return to Umbria next May when the weather warms and at that time will be busy preparing Il Casale di Mele for guests once again. We are getting new bookings each week, including a couple of groups who want to return a second time which is very rewarding. While we are away from Umbria this winter, we are having a large stone pizza oven and barbeque built that so we can offer guests more options for prepared meals that will include a pizza night. As well, our water bills have become ridiculous as we try and keep everything green throughout the heat of the summer so we are hopefully having a well drilled for us so when we return next spring we will no longer be forced to use city water for our gardens. Along with the prepared meals we offer for a fee, next year we will offer cooking classes to our guests that will include sitting down afterwards and enjoying a three course meal. The classes will involve making traditional central italian dishes using local, seasonal ingredients. I am HOPING to get a new larger oven upon our return to enable us more options for the classes as well in our large country kitchen. nfortunately, that item is on MY “to do” list and not my husbands!
Looking back over the past six months in Umbria, I must admit that we are truly blessed to be living in such a beautiful area of Umbria, and in having the opportunity to meet and spend time with such wonderful people as guests on a weekly basis. We are living our dream, and being able to harvest our own olives at the end of our season turning them into gorgeous, freshly pressed olive oil was the perfect ending to to a perfect season in Umbria!
A Few Photos From Our Season In Umbria 2010
Il Casale di Mele
View From Our Upper Balcony Looking Over At Il Casale di Mele Rosse
Our New Sun Sail For Shade On The Pool Terrace
View From The Front Of The House
View From Pool Terrace To House
View From Upper Balcony Looking Over Pool And View Beyond
Our Table Set For Our Complimentary Wine Tasting For Each Group Of Guests