Up until last week, I was sitting here in Santa Fe with sunny cold winter days and two month old snow in my yard, trying to plan a trip to Europe for this summer. I have a hard time switching between the seasons in my head. Last week the weather changed, we put away our winter coats and I got down to some serious summer planning. I always do my best planning when the trip is not too far off. I lock in the important vacation rentals six months or more before the trip, but I can never decide on the whole trip until closer to departure.
Steve and I have been dithering back and forth about our “year in England”. The positive part of this: we don’t buy anything new because “we are going to England”, so we keep our old car and furniture and save lots of money. The negative: we no longer plan Europe trips in advance because “we might be living in England”. Last week I officially decided that we will never get it together to move to England this spring (which starts next week!!) and I am going to plan a nice long summer trip to Europe.
I wrote about our two weeks in Switzerland in an earlier entry – Switzerland in July! Now it is time to think about the Italy portion.
I have never been to Italy in the summer, but have read so many trip reports and posts about summer trips that I feel like I have been. This July we will be at Villa Rosy from July 15 – 21. Corinna, who runs the San Potente vacation rentals, offered one week at Villa Rosy as a prize in our last Slow Travel Contest. Janet picked that prize and then asked Steve and I to join her, her husband Alan and some friends for their week.
Porto Santo Stefano, Tuscany
Villa Rosy is a stone farmhouse divided into two apartments: Mimosa (4bed/4bath) and Magnolia (1bed/1bath). Janet and her group will be in Mimosa and Steve and I in Magnolia. The villa has a nine hectare olive grove and a swimming pool. It is just 3 km south of Assisi.
We have been to Umbria before: a week near Montone, a week in Spello, two weeks in Panicale, a few nights in Spoleto and Todi. On trips to Tuscany, we usually do day trips into Umbria. Central Umbria, in the area between Perugia, Assisi, Spoleto and Todi, is my favorite part of this region. On this trip we will explore more of this central area and revisit our favorite towns. Perhaps this time we will get to see the frescoes in Montefalco, that we missed because they were closed off for renovation on our last time in the area. We will do a trip up to northern Umbria (Citta di Castello, maybe to Gubbio, and over the border to Sansepolcro in Tuscany) and a trip to eastern Umbria to see Norcia and the Piano Grande. We are having a Slow Travel GTG for lunch on Thursday, so we will get a chance to meet up with Slow Travelers currently living in Italy or on vacation. It will be nice to be staying with friends, so we can do some things together during the day and meet up to exchange stories in the evening. I am sure the week will go by in a flash!
Corinna made a detailed Google Map for Slow Travel showing her favorite things to do in this area.
July in Italy will be hot. It would be hot here in Santa Fe too, but dry. Santa Fe temperatures get up into the 90s in early July, but cool down when our monsoon rains start. Italy weather is more like that on the US east coast, so we can expect hot and humid. Not a great time to be in the cities, but a good time to be in the countryside.
We have been in Italy during hot spells in June and September, so I am prepared (or so I think). On one of our early trips to Italy, in the mid 90s, we spent a hot September week in a small house near Siena. It had a small pool where we spent the hot afternoons. That was the trip where I picked my first figs from trees in the yard and smelled the fresh herbs as you walked across the fields.
One year we sweltered in a farmhouse, near Cortona, that had no pool, no insulation in the roof (that house was HOT!) and no window screens (and lots of bugs). We spent a lot of time sitting under a tree in the yard, catching some of the breeze. Another year we were in an apartment on an estate in Chianti with a pool, good insulation and screens. The heat was manageable. We could swim to cool off, plus we could sleep at night without baking and being pestered by bugs.
Argiano, estate in Chianti near Siena, Tuscany
The year after that we spent two weeks in June in a small house in southern Tuscany near San Casciano dei Bagni. It had a pool and the house kept cool, but when we opened all the windows at night, a bat flew in. On that same trip we spent a hot week in southern Liguria, in an apartment in a hill town, inland from Lerici. It was hot enough to swim, so we drove down to the coast and spent a day at an expensive Italian beach, the kind where you pay to go in and they provide the loungers and umbrellas. Swimming in the cold, salty Mediterranean is one of my favorite Italy memories.
Beach near Lerici, Liguria
A few times, during June or September, we spent time on Monte Argentario, the “island” off southern Tuscany. Porto Santo Stefano is a lovely seaside resort.
Alice Twain wrote a good article about keeping cool when traveling in Europe in the summer – How to Survive the Heat of Summer Travel. I will try many of the tips in the article. I must start looking for some long, loose linen or light cotton pants to wear instead of jeans.
After our week in Italy, we have three days to make our way back to Geneva, drop off the rental car and fly to London. These are still to be decided, but I am thinking either two nights on the Italian Rivera or somewhere in France, and then the last night near Geneva. Or three nights on Lake Geneva.
The last two and a half weeks of our vacation are in England. More about that next time. Spring starts next week, summer will follow quickly and before we know it, we will be on the plane heading for Switzerland, Italy and England!!
No Air Conditioning – But You Can Still Keep Cool, Pauline Kenny
How to Survive the Heat of Summer Travel, Alice Twain
Trip Report 1084 – A Springtime Slow Travel Prize: Ten Glorious Days In Umbria And A Little Bit Of Rome, by Stella from New York, Spring 2006. Ten days of exploring the beautiful hills of Umbria and a quick visit to Rome, with thanks to Slow Travel for a wonderful prize.
One Day in Assisi: Itinerary for a day trip to Assisi, shopping, restaurants, festivals, when to visit, practical information, by Letizia Mattiacci
Perusing Perugia: Detailed travel notes for Perugia, a Companion Guide to the Tourist Map Distributed by the Perugia Tourist Office, Valda & Claire Casucci
The Umbrian Sagra Survival Guide: How to behave at a local Italian festival, which ones to go to. Rebecca from Italy
Umbria, Italy’s Oasis: Things to do in and around Perugia and central Umbria. Megan from Italy
Slow Travel Google Map – Umbria: Corinna made a detailed map showing her favorite things to do in this area
Janet Zinn Photos: Great photos of Italy and other places in the world.