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Sunset over the Niccone valley
What's New - 31 March 2009
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Mazzaforte country house rental in Italy
Mazzaforte, looking south
The swimming pool, Mazzaforte
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Things to do
There's a whole new section on the website to explore, featuring
antique maps and prints for sale, mainly of West Africa, but also
covering other parts of the world .  All are absolutely original and
mostly date from the 17th and 18th centuries.  There are some
extraordinary items on offer.  Do take a look by going to
KNOWN
WORLD MAPS & PRINTS.   
Photos of the
week
Restoration of
Mazzaforte
Two weeks ago we were sitting outside the Bar Centrale in Umbertide on
market day, eating ice cream and shedding layers in glorious sunshine.  By
the 21st, the first day of spring, we awoke to snow - a crusting of about five
centimetres having settled during the night.  It stayed for the day and all but
Since then, the weather has been mixed - some sun, some rain, but all good
for the garden, where we've been at work for the last ten days, tidying-up
and getting everything into shape before the spring big-bang.  Here in
Umbria you wake up one sunny morning in early April to find the garden and
surrounding countryside completely transformed - suddenly everything is
blooming and bursting into colour.
But look at the Euro, I hear you say; everything will be far too expensive - Italy and anywhere else in the
Eurozone is out for this year.  Well, yes....you can't deny the Euro has appreciated against other world
currencies, but this is Italy and the essentials of civilised life are still more sensibly priced than the kind of
nonsense northern Europeans, especially Brits and Scandinavians, and increasingly, Americans and
planning your next foray "out there", the bitterly cold Peroni in your hand will have cost you EUR0.87 for
a 660ml bottle.  If you prefer wine, that chilled Grechetto at EUR5.00 a bottle, is a revelation.  For lunch,
pick fresh figs from the trees in the garden and toss in a salad with fennel and extra virgin olive oil from
our hillside.  Seasonal fruit and vegetables bought in the market in Umbertide or in one of the other local

You want to go out for dinner but don't want a London bill - plus a New York tip.  You don't have to;
there are excellent local restaurants where you can enjoy top quality local cuisine for between EUR15- 25
per head.  And if you like pizza, that comes down to EUR10-15 per head, with starter and wine. All within
twenty minutes drive from Mazzaforte.


If you need any additional convincing that booking a holiday here would be a good idea, spend a few
minutes looking at some of the great places you'll be able to visit in the
SIGHTSEEING part of our site.  
There are, of course, lots of other things to do nearby and if you let us know in advance that you'd like
to do a morning's Umbrian cookery course, or go horse riding through the hills or take the kids
whitewater rafting - we can book these and many other activities for you before you arrive.  If you have
a particular interest you'd like to pursue, drop us a line and we'll let you know what can be arranged
during your stay.
As of last week, we also briefly gained a new resident.  For two days this
cock pheasant followed me round the garden, and when I came into the
house, climbed onto every windowsill until he could see me inside.
Encouraged by handfuls of maize, we thought he'd moved in for good.  
Then he disappeared. No sign of him until Monday, when sadly, I found a
heap of unmistakably pheasant wing feathers in one of the flower beds.  
Most likely a fox has had a fine midnight feast.  A shame, because he was a
highly entertaining bird, deserving of a better end.

So, with Spring about to erupt and Easter almost upon us, do think
seriously about renting Mazzaforte for an early break or a Summer
vacation.  Follow this link;
BOOKING, to check availability.  All the signs are
that we are in for some exceptionally good Summer weather and the house
and garden are waiting to be enjoyed.
Theodore, cock pheasant who thought he was a dog.  RIP
Ten days ago we picked the first wild asparagus of the year.  Every day
since then, there has been a decent crop to be had if you hunt for it.  
This should now continue for about six to eight weeks.

Sauted briefly in olive oil with crushed garlic, there's absolutely no
comparison with the domesticated variety.  We have a grass bank at
one end of the garden that's covered in it, with plenty more in the
surrounding woodland.  Here's a picture of some it together with
Sunday lunch - spatchcocked chicken marinaded in olive oil, garlic,
rosemary and lemon juice.
Sunday lunch; spatchcocked chicken and wild asparagus
Crocus in the garden at Mazzaforte, Spring 2009
The garden at Mazzaforte, 21 March 2009
Mazzaforte, Spring 2009
Crocus in the garden at Mazzaforte, Spring 2009