Guest Comments 2000 – 2001

2000 – 2001

View of the house“We have been traveling with our baby back to live in New Zealand (after 3 years on and off in the UK it is nice to be in a friendly clean country with so much outdoor life and near our families) and we are now back into working life and settled in a house so life is returning to normal for us. Secondly, an enormous thanks to you for all you did for us whilst we were at your Italian paradise. We have not stopped telling everyone about our wonderful time at Calboccia and we are desparately thinking of ways to get back there as soon as we can! We had the most wonderful time in Umbria – a far more intimate and picturesque part of Italy than Tuscany we thought. We were thrilled and privileged to have Sestilio look after us as he did and to stay an extra night at Calboccia thanks to your own generosity. Please pass on our regards to Sestilio – he is a kind and friendly man and a walking encyclopedia on the area! He really made a huge difference to our Italian holiday – we loved meeting him.

Our baby Sophie Amelia (now 15 months) has made a full recovery from her viral pneumonia and although it was bad timing her being so ill whilst we were in Umbria we could not have predicted that sort of virus and it was in a funny way a very real insight for us into Italy and its people – spending 4 days and nights in a hospital where no-one speaks English but where they could not have been more concerned, kind, helpful and professional was a wonderful thing. Sophie and I shared the room in hospital with a woman my age (31) and her 1 year old too, so Sophie had an Italian friend and they had a wonderful time. What’s more, this woman’s numerous family visits often involved me and Sophie too – and lots of charade playing so we could try to communicate with my very limited Italian and their non-existent English!

– Calboccia is amazing and you have done a great job preserving the tranquility and the atmosphere of a real casual comfortable country haven. We would love to return one day and stay longer as there is so much to see and do and November was a wonderful autumnal and peaceful time of year to visit – we had clear crisp days and saw all sorts of beautiful villages where we were often the only tourists – it makes a nice change to visit Italy when the Italians speak to you in Italian and the cafes are full of locals. Anyway, thank you for letting us share a part of your Italian home and I am sure you and your family will have many more wonderful times there in your peaceful paradise on the top of the world. Many thanks and best wishes for all that 2001 brings your way.”
Jennifer, Michael and Sophie. (New Zealand)

Sunflowers“We really enjoyed staying at your place. The vacation was topped off by that mountain top stay…..Some notes: I was able to continue to be an email junkie by using the service at the second floor of the coop. It only costs about 2,500 per half hour; we found the COOP to be a place for 1 stop shopping, food, ATM at the bank of Tuscany and email; Dada was great and we learned a lot about cooking, much fun and great food; your man on site is super! ……. we had a great time and will try to return in a future year…Cheers!”
D.W. (California)

“Greetings! We’ve been back from our trip to Italy a little over a week, and are finally catching up. I want to let you know that we thoroughly enjoyed our week at Calboccia. The weather was beautiful, and the view from our window stunning. The moon was full while we were there,and we loved sitting out on the porch watching it rise above the hills behind the house. We so appreciated Sestilio’s orientation and his graciousness at meeting us in the early evening so we could spend the day in Florence. Thanks for making such a beautiful spot available. We hope to to return some day, and bring my sister and her husband. Maybe take cooking classes at La Chiusa. We will certainly recommend your place to anyone traveling to Umbria. Thanks again for your hospitality.”
C.and D. A. (Washington)

“We can only imagine your joy as you turn off the main highway and start up the hill to Calboccia after a long absence. We found it an absolutely ideal place to stay in every way. We and our friends explored the little medieval towns (some with their great works of art) , managed to get to Urbino, Ravenna, Siena and one day in Firenze (too many people). We all thought Sestilio is just fantastic, and our three meals prepared by Angela were fantastic. We can dream now of sipping wine and looking out over the beautiful hills of Umbria. Thank you for being able to offer us such a great vacation place. Warm regards,”
B.J. and H. S. (New York)

“Kathleen and I had a wonderful time in Umbria. The pleasure of returning to the same delightful spot and relaxing with friends each evening after a day of wandering about the beautiful countryside made a great difference to us, and gave us ample reason to call this one of the best trips we have taken. Your material, both that sent beforehand and that available in the apartment, plus the suggestions of Sestilio and David Lloyd-Edwards, were most helpful in giving us ideas for enjoying our stay. For example, after touring Assisi with David, he suggested a day spent in Sansepulcro and Montercchi with a midday repast at D’Alighiero in Anghiari would be a nice thing to do, and it surely was. Thanks for all your help. Please let Sestilio know how grateful we were for his assistance. Best wishes,”
J. G. (Alabama)

“We returned this weekend from our week at Calboccia. It’s a beautiful place and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Sestilio is incredible. His knowledge of the area and suggestions of things to do/see were extremely helpful, as were his directions to various places. The meals prepared by Angela were memorable – we would love to take cooking classes from her on another trip. We will be putting a summary of the trip on our web site in the next week or so, and we will include a link to Numerous friends are anxious to hear all about it and we look forward to sharing the info with them. Again, many thanks for all the information and assistance you provided. With best regards,”
M.A. (South Carolina)

“We really enjoyed our stay at Esiccatoio. Whether we stayed in and read or traveled around the area our stay was delightful. We could have had better weather, but we got out every day because, although it was often wet, there was always a decent respite. As a matter of fact the heaviest rains seemed to come at night. The Niccone valley and Umbria were beautiful. We traveled around a good bit, by train to Florence twice, and once to Rome before we left. The train was great fun, and gave us a good chance to read. I read “A Valley in Italy” from your library and Lorna got most of the way through it too. She found a copy at the Kensington Library and finished here at home. The book was so evocative of Niccone that we were sure that one of the villas in the valley must be San Orsolana. We were sorry we hadn’t asked Sestilio earlier where it was, because he told us it was in the next valley on our last day. We would like to visit Essicatoio again someday … Anyway, this is a thank you note. Your thoughtful planning and suggestions made for a wonderful visit to the area. Best regards,”
G.B. (California)

“I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyous New Year. Thank you for helping Peter and me to experience the most wonderful Italian adventure with the use of Calboccia. It will be an experience we won’t forget.”
P.R. (New York)

“(Here’s a photo from Calboccia); there we were on our last night at Calboccia. We were all dressed up and ready to go to La Chiusa for dinner — which lived up to its reputation. Delicious! We had a wonderful time and I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to write to tell you that we enjoyed every minute of it. Calboccia was everything we had imagined, and more. I will never forget waking to the sound of birds singing. The peacefulness of Calboccia will stay with me forever. We all had a terrific time. It was the first time to Italy for my brother and his family, and for my brother-in-law — who is the only one amongst us who is of Italian descent. They loved it as much as we did (we keep going back). ….. Thank you for Calboccia. It would be wonderful to return someday.”
M.and S. W. (Maryland)

“I intended to write long before now to say thanks for making our stay at Calboccia memorable. You certainly thought of every detail — the accommodations were great…we couldn’t have asked for a finer introduction to Italy! All good wishes to you and your family.”
M. O. (Ohio)

“Now that we’ve returned from Calboccia, I wanted to say “grazie” for your extreme generosity. Jesse and I had an absolutely wonderful time spending Thanksgiving week at Calboccia, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery in and around Tuscany and Umbria. It was a particularly welcome treat to stay at Calboccia and have a home base with calm, soothing surroundings after a week of fervent sightseeing in Venice and Rome! Your home is simply incredible, the views stunning, and the cooking at La Chiusa was by far some of the best we’ve ever tasted. Once again, thank you…. All my best,”
K.G. (California)

“Thank you so much for the use of your home in Umbria. Jim and I had a fabulous time and plan to return as soon as we can! Sestilio was a wonderful host, the house was cozy and unique, and Umbertide was a friendly and interesting place. My only regret was having only a week to explore. Hope to be scheduling another trip soon! Best regards for the new year,”
K.L. (Minnesota)

“An attorney in Iceland asked one of my partners for a place to rent in Tuscany/Umbria. After I mentioned your place, I found the website. It was nice to see pictures of the place where we spent our favorite vacation ever. We now have a 2 year old daughter so probably won’t be heading back to Italia for several years, but plan on calling you when we do.”
J.K.. (California)

From: Anne Schrager <
To: “‘'” <
Subject: FW: Italy/Umbria – Restored Farm House1p
“Here’s the nice note someone wrote about your accommodations:
To: San Francisco Chronicle, “Follow the Reader” Column
Re: Umbrian Farm House

“Last summer we spent a delightful week in rural Umbria, the heart of Italy, 40 minutes east of Cortona (featured in Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun). From our secluded hilltop, we listened to the wind and watched the clouds blow across a valley full of sunflowers. We stayed at Calboccia, a stone farm house lovingly restored by the Behrsin family. During our stay, Jan Behrsin and his two daughters stayed in the lower floor while we had the upper unit with a separate entrance. We had two large bedrooms, a modern bath, eat-in kitchen and large living room. The hilltop towns of Tuscany and Umbria were easy one hour drives. We explored both the famous Siena, Assisi, and Gubbio, as well as the unknown such as Spello and Bevagna. We stopped in Umbertide, the nearest town, for fresh breads, produce, cheeses, and meats each day. When we became stranded late at night because, unknown to me, my Avis car was a Diesel and did not run on the unleaded gas I offered it, Jan arranged for us to be picked up and driven back to Calboccia.

Nearby is La Chiusa, an organic farm and restaurant run by Dada and Claudio Rener. We had several stunning dinners costing $25-30 per person. They also teach cooking classes, in English.”
Submitted by: L.A. (California)

“We have recently returned from our month in Italy and I wanted to send a brief note to thank you and your daughters for creating such a wonderful retreat in the hills of Umbria. In addition to driving the country side (Jim and I explored every mountain road), we also enjoyed returning to Essiccatoio to sit by the fire, cook, read from your library and play scrabble (something we had not done in years) and sip on great local and regional wines. Sestilio is a wonderful person and we enjoyed sharing our Umbrian experiences with him. He was kind enough to show us the main house. It too is wonderful and we can imagine the many evenings that are spent eating out on the terrace under the stars. We look forward to a return visit in the not too distant future. Buon Anno e Grazie Mille!”
D.V. (Ontario, Canada)


“Our two weeks at ‘Calboccia’ have been such a welcome break from packing and unpacked luggage. From the time we arrived, until this, our last day, we have relaxed, marveled at the scenery and quiet, listened to the delicious sounds of many birds, watched in delight as the fire flies lit up the bushes late at night, and as a playful fox left our back patio to scamper across the grass, into the woods. And, in between all this, we visited more hill towns than we ever thought existed. Our favorites were Todi, Gubbio, Siena, Orvieto (because of the cathedral) and Bevagna (where we enjoyed their medieval festival). Montone and Corciano are by far the cutest towns . . . We suggest to others that if they want to see Rome and Florence, they should take the train. Each can be done easily in a day, and getting back was just as easy. On the food side, guests should be sure to try the local cheese (‘formaggio misto’) and Orvieto wine – both superb. And going to the outdoor market in Umbertide on Wednesday morning is not to be missed. For restaurants, we thought that ‘La Chiusa’ was by far the best and ‘Mimi’s’ was an experience everyone should enjoy. Guests won’t believe the courses put in front of you at ‘Mimi’s’ and everyone seems to blend in as one big family. We also enjoyed our meal in Preggio (‘La Castagna’) out on the terrace. We were fortunate to have you and your two beautiful daughters here for one of our weeks, which really made this feel like our home. And Sestilio’s twin daughters are absolutely adorable. We are already missing ‘Calboccia’ and hope to do this again some day with our daughters and their husbands. Thanks for everything.”
R. & M. M. – California

“We had a wonderful time in Italy and at Calboccia. Maybe my best vacation ever. Everything to do with Calboccia went completely smoothly. Sestilio was extremely helpful and friendly. I am already planning my next trip and would like to try to rent the Essiccatoio next spring, preferably the week of April 28th but if that is booked we could come a week earlier. Please let me know the availability…..Thanks for taking the time to restore Calboccia and making the peace and beauty of that place something others could share…. Hope you are doing well …. Best regards,”
J.M., California

“Thank you. We had a wonderful week. You have created a delightful treat here, up in the hills of Umbria. We appreciate you sharing it with us.”
L. & H.H. and Family – California

“Our stay was everything we had hoped for and more. As we sat by our last fire, drinking local wine, it was hard to put our thoughts on paper …The quiet sanctuary you have made here is indescribable. The time, thought and energy shows through in every detail. Sestilio was very helpful and wonderful to this home. We spent a lot of time thinking about and planning this vacation. It has far exceeded everything we had hoped for. The beautiful countryside, the food, the wine and this gem of a home will stay with us forever. Thank you.”
K. and T.E. – Maryland

“It’s our last night here, and we’ve completed our cooking lessons at ‘La Chiusa’, enjoying very much the vitality and charm of Dada and Claudio and their family. We’re planning pasta and gnocchi meals at home in Australia. Our enduring memories will be of the great setting and special place you have created, and are sharing with others and thanks, of course, to Sestilio for his helpful and welcoming introduction to “Calboccia.”
F. and M. H. – Australia

“Thanks to ….. for telling me about this magical site. My first trip (my dream trip) to Italy, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I sit staring at this peaceful sunset, listening to the wonderful music you have left here, wondering if I’ll ever need to travel anywhere but here. Thanks.”
K.S. – California

“What a beautiful place – such peace!…The light and the clouds are amazing! I will definitely recommend this fabulous site.”
R.H. – California

“We had two wonderful weeks at ‘Calboccia’ (one at the lower unit of the main house and one at the ‘Essiccatoio’.) This place is cozy, intimate and toasty (in April) (we had fires each night, heard our first coo-coo bird, saw pheasants and hares, and absorbed lovely sunsets.) We were sorry to leave, but took away wonderful memories. You are to be congratulated for restoring these houses so tastefully and opening them up for others to enjoy. Grazie!”
J. and J. J. – Maryland

“We enjoyed our week at your beautiful Umbrian mountaintop. My husband and I were in the ‘Essiccatoio’, and three of our children, their spouses, and two of our grandchildren were in the main house. The peace, the removal from newspapers, television and news was delightful. Easter Sunday mass in the beautiful octagonal church in Umbertide was an unforgettable experience.”
D. and B. R. – New York.

Rainbow in Umbria”Heaven, I’m in heaven…” is playing on the cassette player as I write our reflections on a wonderful week here – we’ll always think of this place whenever we hear this song. It will be tough to return to life ‘as usual’ after this vacation. After spending a week in Volpaia, in Chianti, and renting a small apartment, ‘Calboccia’ was a joy! So nicely decorated – rustic, yet modern conveniences. ‘Playing house’ in Italy was great. Every time I looked in a drawer or closet for something, it was there. Thanks for making this heaven available for others to enjoy. We’re so glad we found your place. We wish you many happy years here.”
L. and P. L. – North Carolina

“We’ve loved our hilltop home and the time we’ve spent here exploring all the delightful medieval towns both here in Umbria and in Tuscany. Jan, Ingrid and Nina, you treated us as family and gave us so much excellent advice. We will return . . . It is a bit of heaven and we love it. Thank you for creating this lovely spot and sharing it with so many of us!”
G. and J. S. – California

“Now that we have put our slides in order and reflect on our month in Italy, we can truly say that one of the highlights was our week at Calboccia. It was everything we were hoping for and more. We loved the quietness, the beauty of the area surrounding ‘Calboccia’, the charm and the antiquity of the home itself, the convenience of being so close to the hill towns we wanted to explore. It was wonderful to rest in the hammock, cook some wonderful meals with all the fresh ingredients we purchased at the markets, do our laundry (although it did take a “bit” longer than our machine at home), enjoy the fine wines of the area on the patio at night while we watched the fabulous sunsets and gazed at the stars in the heavens realizing how great is our God that He would create Italy! We even saw a firefly. I could go on and on and on about your wonderful retreat tucked away up in the hills. We would love to come back sometime for 2 weeks. Even though we did explore a lot of hill towns there is so much more to see and so many more wines to taste! We did eat at La Chiusa on our last night and it was just as you said – fresh and delicious!

Thank you for your restoration and as everyone else has said, we’d love to hear your story. I’m sure it would equal the adventures of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. Perhaps you will share it someday with those who have stayed at Calboccia. God bless and Best regards.”
J and S. T. – California

“This is just a brief note to let you know how much Michael and I both enjoyed our stay at Essiccatoio – we did leave a longer message in your visitors book about the things we most enjoyed about our stay in Umbria . . . One of the things we enjoyed was playing your music selection as we prepared meals or played Scrabble. Since returning I’ve bought the soundtrack to The English Patient which I will forever associate with our stay in Umbria. Another music selection I’d like to buy is the Tom Waits record that was on one of your tapes – but I can’t remember the title of the record. Can you help??? (You no doubt receive some strange requests from time to time associated with your rental arrangements, so I’m hoping this isn’t the strangest!) . . . Since we got back to Australia we’ve been practicing the pasta making skills we acquired during our cooking classes at La Chuisa and have been delighted, not to mention amazed at the results. Gnocci is our next challenge! We’re still trying to lose that weight that we acquired in Italy – Mimi’s was a particularly significant contributor in this regard. I hope all’s well with you.”

“We have been totally preoccupied since we returned from our two months in Italy, so please forgive me for not writing earlier to let you know how much we enjoyed our stay at Calboccia. I think that for a couple during the late fall, when you will want a fire in the evening, Essicatoio is perfect. It was the ideal cozy retreat to return to in the evening after a full day of hill town touring. The weather was really quite nice for late October, so we did get some use of the yard and terrace, and did some exploring of the trails. We enjoyed the other couples staying in the big house while we were there. It turned out that one of the couples was from Visalia and good friends of a fraternity brother of mine (who is married to a sorority sister of my wife) whom we haven’t seen since college. Small world. Sestilio was great, every bit as friendly and helpful as you said. We had David give us a half day tour of Perugia. We thoroughly enjoyed him and the tour. Had dinner at La Chiusa–excellent–and pigged out at Mimi’s. Had dinner twice at Laconda del Capitano in Montone (Giancarlo gave us the discount the first time but not the second) would recommend it along with La Chiusa. In any event, all was great! Merry Christmas and Happy 2000 to you and your family. Warm regards,”
B. and B.L. B.

“We had such a wonderful time in Italy this past October and we feel changed forever from the sights and experiences we had there. We have been preparing the dishes that Dada taught us for friends and family and have referred many of them to Calboccia and La Chiusa. Wishing you all the best for the New Year!”
S. and M. M.

“We had just a wonderful time. Thank you for making the house available to us. My most memorable day was the one that our friends went to Firenze and the folks downstairs were also away (in Florence, I think, too) and Kay and I had the place to ourselves. Total serenity. It was just absolutely blissful. I can’t remember any time it being so quiet in my life since I left the mountains of Montana 28 years ago!”
B. and K. F.

“It’s hard to believe so much time has lapsed since we returned from Italy. Our week at Essiccatoio was truly the highlight of our trip. Your home is lovely and we really felt connected to our surroundings. The comments in the Guest Book led us to Mimi’s! What a wonderful experience. Sestilio was wonderful, charming, and, of course, helpful. Mitchell and I look forward to our return trip soon. Our warmest wishes to you and your family.”
J. and M. S.

“Just a quick note to say thanks for everything! We had a wonderful time, loved Dada and Claudio, Sestilio was an absolute gentleman and a truly great person. The house was incredibly nice, homey, warm and beautifully done. I would sit around the fire and think how lucky you were to own it, but then I realized you were not lucky, but rather very smart to have had the vision and patience to turn it from a wreck into a home. We both loved the area, the people and the lifestyle. We tripped around the hill towns, went to Firenze for the day, spent New Years Eve in Umbertide and shopped, cooked and ate like royally. We’d love to have you over to dinner soon, and will contact you when life settles down. One question . . . how do you ever stand coming back? Hope you had a great holiday season and that you and the girls are well. Take care and thanks again. We definitely plan to return.”
P. and B. L.

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