Guest Comments 2002 – 2004


Essiccatoio exterior”We are back from Italy and had a wonderful time. Renting a house was something we had not done before and we enjoyed the flexibility it gave us. The drive up the hill was a little daunting at first but, we got used to it. The view was magnificent and each morning we would wake up above the clouds. The location was perfect for visiting the hill towns and we were able to go to Orvieto, Assisi, Gubbio and others. Dinner at Loconda del Capitano was wonderful as was Montone. We also enjoyed our experience at Mimmi’s. It was like going to Grandma’s house. The co-op at Umbertide was better than we expected. Thank you for recommending the abbey at San Pietro for our first night. What a beautiful location and how amazing to stay in such a place. Our second portion of the trip we stayed at a B & B in Lucca – Villa Alessandra which was wonderful. We had a charming host and a good location to explore that area. If anyone needs a recommendation for that area please pass our thoughts along. It was coolish during our stay and we had to use heat. …….You have a wonderful library …….. The fireplace and wood provided a lovely and comfortable place to spend the evenings. My favorite spot was beside the fireplace reading while laying on the pillow topped bench.Thank you for the opportunity of staying in your home.”
J.R. (Georgia)

“Brian and I are finishing up our honeymoon here (at Calboccia) having started two weeks ago with two days in Rome plus three more in Positano. Our week here in Umbria has been a fantastic restful conclusion to our stay….Thanks. ”
H. and B. S. (Massachusetts)

“Three weeks in the Essiccatoio; not much we can add to the praises sung in the previous pages of the Guest Book. Regarding the good things said about Sestilio … you’d think the guy stepped off a cloud, while it’s not up to us to say whether he’s a candidate for canonization, we would like to add that he extended every kindness to us….Thanks!”
J. and J. W. (New Hampshire)

“Jim and I are back on our honeymoon — Luna di Miele – and find “Calboccia” as enchanting as last year. As we traveled to other areas – Venezia, Siena, Firenze – we find Umbertide to be the best place to come home to. Thank you Jan and Sestilio for keeping this place alive.”
K.L. and J.W. (Minnesota)

“Ah Calboccia! Such a place of scenery, of peace, of home. We have had the great fortune to live between your walls for weeks–for some of us, one month. You have nourished, inspired and healed us. We aspire to take a piece of your rustic timelessness back to our harried, somewhat frenetic lives. We thank all of you – those who created this haven, pieced it together, bit by bit so we could live comfortably….While we were here, we had 3 snowstorms in less than 2 weeks, giving us not only a “White Christmas,” but a white New Year’s as well. On New Year’s eve, just before the whole valley exploded with more than 15 incredible firework displays at midnight, we wisely took a full moon stroll to walk off our celebratory champagne and feasting. As we walked, the snow crunched under our feet, the stars shone brightly and everything everywhere — the road, bushes, tree branches and hillsides – reflected the brilliance of the moonlight. There were tears gleaming in many eyes that night and during these past weeks we realized once again how precious life is, here and now. Thank you, Jan and family, Sestilio and Charlotte, Claudio and Dada, for all of your advice and assistance – your kindness and efforts on our behalf were noticed and appreciated. From all of us,”
California, Massachusetts, and France

“My dear friend Lisa filled the previous pages of this Guest Book, and gave some wonderful insights and places to visit. I created this trip and united my dearest friends and family to share Christmas and my 40th birthday. I feel that “Calboccia” surpassed my dreams and provided the environment to truly rest and replenish. What a perfect location and Sestilio always helped us …This past winter we were here for one month. While it was frigid cold outside, it was nice to always have the fires burning and I even saw two cinghiale (wild boar) on the drive home one night, and my two boys, 7 and 9, were very curious about the boar hunters. I feel like we were able to be a part of a forgotten time. The pace of Umbria has been a great retreat from the bay area. Thank you for sharing such a special place with people you do not know. You have given us a tremendous gift by sharing such a beautiful house and environment. I look forward to returning again as my family gets older. It is very sad to leave. ”
L, A, A, and G. S. (California)

“Paldies, gratse, thanks. I am 9 years old. I had a great time here to. We did fireworks and played soccer to. I had a great time at your house. I bilt a fire to. Paldies. Thanks.”
A. R. S. (California)

“Anxiety: driving up the seemingly never-ending gravel road to Calboccia, following Sestilio’s lights in the fog. I was in charge of this part of our adventure “Surprise: Arriving to the Essiccatoio, opening the doors, and finding a picture perfect, warm and charming house. “Tranquility: Warming up next to Monica, my wife, with the Umbrian sun shining through the small side window. “Overwhelmed: Driving to the beautiful Umbrian towns, watching places where history has stood still, imagining long gone markets, with Umbrians, Romans, Etruscans, walking by. “Love: For my wife, in our honeymoon, with hundreds of memories that will last us a life time, looking at her as an Italian song plays on the radio, “Le Nostra Storia,” – “our Story”- I love you. We have seen many places and many beautiful things, others here have described, but these are the feelings I remember as we start our new life, our new family. — Thanks to you,”
J. R. (Florida)

“I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful week at the Essiccatoio! The weather started off a little cool and cloudy/rainy, but ended with blue skies and lovely temperatures! We loved the house! It was so cozy and inviting and exactly what we wanted! We had also booked a tour with David Edwards of Assisi, and that was absolutely wonderful. I wrote in the house book that I thought everyone should try to book a tour with him.

I’m hoping that we will be able to come to Calboccia again in the future, but for now – we are recommending it to everyone we know! – Regards,”
E. M. (New York)

“We had a great time at your place. We really love the area, people, sights and of course the food. Sestilio was terrific and made our stay very enjoyable. Dada and Claudio gave us our best meal in years. They are so nice. We are so taken by Umbria that we want to go back this summer and look for property to buy. Do you have any openings in June or July for Essiccatoio? We really like the Essiccatoio. It is so comfortable. ……. Let us know about this summer. Thanks again for letting us stay at the Essiccatoio. It very well may become our second home.”
B. and K. I. (Germany)

“Just a quick word to let you know how much we enjoyed our trip to Calboccia. The setting and the people met every expectation. Thank you.
Sestilio was very helpful, particularly in assisting with a couple of phone calls when we needed to return a defective rental car. We also broke new ground by having Amy write in the house book; she even included a restaurant seconding your recommendation of the place in Montone. We had lunch there on a cold, windy day and we were the only customers. It was one of the best meals we had in Italy. We look forward to going back again.”
D, K and A. K (California)

“Hi. We just got back form our stay at Calboccia. What a treat. We did a world-wind tour with many side trips away from Calboccia as so many people had so many things they absolutely had to do. I had hoped for more quiet time, but that’s not what you get when you are in a group. Anyway, we really appreciated your home in Umbria. Our Italian also improved. Having now returned I thought I would also inquire if the downstairs of the big house might be available for the week of October 6 or of September 22 this fall. I will be biking in Spain and would not mind decompressing either at the beginning or the end of that trip. Now that I know how to fly in closer than Milan, there would not be so much driving time. Let me know. Thanks again,”
L.G. (California)

“Sorry to be so tardy in getting a note off. We all had the most WONDERFUL time at Calboccia–it was better even than our wildest dreams. How can you not be there all the time??? Sestilio was the nicest fellow (but almost everywhere we went in the valley everyone knew you–you really are a friendly guy!) and such a fan of yours. We wanted to bring him home with us. With his expert instructions and your forewarning, we did not once blow the circuits. Cooked up a storm, enjoyed the hammock, and got to see Carmen and Giancarlo 2 days before their baby was born. What wonderful folks! I got a picture of them for you. He made us the very best meal we had the entire time we were in Italy. Incredible food. We let him pick the menu and wine, which was a good thing to do. They were both delightful folks. Also met Nell Bertolluci and her friend Rhea who were staying in the downstairs unit. Nell came and had a glass of wine with us while Rhea was at cooking class. What a charmer!! She, too, is a great fan of yours and the girls. I have some wonderful pictures of the house for you, in case you need updated ones for your web site. There was much activity, no doubt engineered by Sestilio, with geraniums and other plants being put about, the shutters re-verathaned, etc. The entire place looks like something out of a fairy tale. We took good care of everything and watered your plants faithfully. So, thanks for sharing your home with us. We would go back in a heartbeat. Had a lovely time in Montone, which Sestilio recommended to us, and we ate at La Chiusa as well, choosing the sampler meal which was excellent and enjoyed by all. We still thought that Giancarlo’s was a bit better, though both meals were superb and will bring fond memories. A hotel in Florence that you can recommend to friends: Belletini. It is on the web and e-mail, they speak English, it is well within walking distance of all major museums, churches, etc. (about 2-3 blocks to the Duomo) and runs about $105 for 2 people, with in-room bath, and a HUGE breakfast. Even a bar in the front desk area, and a computer with free internet access. One caution: tell people to ask for a room not over the street. A little noisy on that side. They are very friendly and helpful. Marcia had her wallet stolen on the street the second day there and Claude, the desk manager, was wonderfully helpful in helping her take care of business and then bought us all a glass of wine to help us recover! Feel free to refer folks to us if they have any questions about our stay in your wonderful Calboccia. You have nice friends and a beautiful home, and we had a truly memorable stay. Mille grazie! Please do keep in touch as we really enjoyed you very much. Ciao–”
H. O. (California)

“We just wanted to let you know what a wonderful week we spent at Calboccia! As before, Sestilio’s handling of all the details was perfect! We had ~75 degree weather each day, and lots of sun. Thanks so much for your suggestions on nearby towns to tour. On this trip, I think Gubbio was probably the new favorite. The meals brought by Angela – three this time – were all incredible. They will be prominently mentioned when we post the write-up on our web site. The work you had done to the fireplace is perfect (and it looks very nice) – we enjoyed blazing fires on several nights. Again, many thanks for providing such a wonderful place to stay. We look forward to a return visit! Best regards,”
M. A. (South Carolina)

“Thanks. We’re back and had a wonderful time. Umbria really is a special place–we did things in Tuscany, but the people of Umbria were much more appealing to us. We’ll be back to Calboccia!”
K. L. (Minnesota)

“While in the process of re-evaluating my “favorite” websites, guess who popped up? How are you doing, along with Calboccia, Essiccatoio, Sestillio, Dana & Claudio, Umbertide, and all of the other wonderful names, places and people that are in our hearts and minds forever? We (that’s Kathy and me…) thought we would be back this past fall, but it was not to be. There were too many conflicts in too many schedules. This is just a note to remind you and ourselves of what a special place Calboccia is, and to thank you for sharing it with us. Adios, for now…,
PS: will continue to be a favorite website, so keep it updated. ”
H. and K. S. (Texas)

“Our trip to Italy and Calboccia was wonderful !!!!! We are hoping to return in the spring of next year with more friends. Thanks.”
R.E. and L.H. (Massachusetts)

“Just a short note to express the complete pleasure, and enjoyment, we had during our all to brief sojourn at the Essiccatoio for the past two weeks. A truly magnificent place. 6 Star rating!”
S.B and L.V (California)

“In some ways Umbria is a time warp – but one wonders what it will be like once the present older generation pass on? We loved it. (We wrote the following in your Guest Book): ‘The house was as great as per previous commentators. Our big tip is buy some firelighters, and DO try the downstairs stove. It takes a couple of hours to get hot, but once it’s going, a short log every hour or so is all it needs to keep the bedroom warmish (we had 5 degree Celsius evenings in late September). We like hiking and eating, in addition to the daily dose of frescoes. Although we had two hiking books for Tuscany and Umbria, they were pretty poor for Umbria, so we did our own exploring (aided by a „Sentieri‰ trail book from the Citta di Castello tourist office, but you have to ask for it seems it only gets given out grudgingly). This Sentieri pamphlet has walks around Umbertide, Montone and Citta’ and although the maps are poor, the walks are signed fairly well, and you can’t get too lost anyway. One of them starts at the new winery/tasting room between Spedalicchio and Niccone (the new Gothicy building at the La Chiusa turning). The red-and-white trail signs commence on the left/north of the road, and go up to the ridge – about a 200 meter climb, then east along the top of the ridge, and then back down to the Niccone road through a renovated hamlet (just push the large iron gate into what appear be a private villa, it is in fact a village.) It’s a great 2 hour late afternoon walk to be followed by wine tasting of Sangiovese reds (or with a 30% Merlot blend) made here in the Niccone Valley (they also have a pretty unique Muscat imported from Sicily).

BEST WALK was over in the Apennines. Go through Gubbio to Sigillo, and then drive up to Val di Ranco at 1000 meters. There is a great restaurant open all day where hang-gliders, cavers and mushroom schools hang out. Hike out on trail 1 to Pian delle Macinare, and back on trail 2 round Mount Cucco. It’s about 4 hours and 400 meters climb; you’ll see the entrance to the 920-meter deep Mount Cucco cave system, the launch area for the most popular hang-gliding spot in Italy possibly Europe judging by the number of Germans there, and maybe also the funghi school doing their thing. Try the lamb roasted over the open wood fire (which also heats the radiators) with squeezed fresh lemon when you get back to Val di Ranco Tavern and see which of the three sudden-death sports participants drinks most draft vini at lunchtime. Get the 1:16,000 Parco del Monte Cucco „Carta del Sentieri‰ from the restaurant before trying this, and take clothing that can withstand a storm coming in. We had 70 Km winds + rain arrive when we did this, couldn‚t see more than 10 meters, and were literally blown backwards at times, we enjoyed it so much we went back and did it a second time.

SECOND BEST WALKS. From Assisi, walk up to the St. Francis Hermitage Monastery for the visit, and then continue up to the hill above. This is a three-hour circuit, plus the visit to the monastery. Then next day go to La Verna village (San Stefano exit on E45 north), and walk up to the St Francis Monastery of the Stigmata, the visit takes about 2 hours have a decent lunch in their refectory, then go on up to the top of La Verna hill through the beech woods. This is about a 3 hour circuit, plus visit, and combined with Assisi will give you a great feeling for St Francis in this region.

WORST WALK. The miserable 4 mile Hannibal trail on Tuoro plain, where the town has scattered a few random signs around the plain that was the battlefield that just repeat what it says in the guide books, but don’t connect with anything of even vaguely historic interest.

BEST FOOD. Il Postale in Citta di Castello, by far, AND they are open for lunch. The chef is a „Jeune Restaurateurs d’Europe‰ There are 50 in Italy, and only one other in Tuscany/Umbria in Orvieto. This scheme started in France 12 years ago, and we have relied on it greatly over the years. It recognizes emerging young chefs who are owner/proprietors of their own restaurant, usually after training with some great name with two Michelin stars. Most of the time due to affordability these restaurants are in out of the way places, like the Citta‚ one which is in a fantastically interior-designed bus station just outside the town. There are three tasting menus that match anything you can get in Paris, but are best described as Nouvelle Umbrian. We went three times and did all of them. I’d come back to Umbria just for this!

SECOND BEST. La Rocca in Umbertide. Example. Piping hot tureen of bean soup “one for two” at E7 that delivered 4 bowls of wonderful fresh soup, followed by a 1 KGrm fresh turbot smothered with sautéed baby potatoes, baby-baby (like < 1cm) tomatoes and sliced olives at E28 total for the two of us. Only catch, its REALLY slow food, budget for 2 hours, but incredible value and fun staff. They don’t have fresh fish every night, so need to check. If they don’t, try the spaghetti with clams and mussels.

HONORABLE MENTION. La Castagna in Preggio is great family style food often using chestnuts = Castagna, and it’s open for Sunday lunch. Sestilio says you can walk there, starting on the track to the left just below the houses, in about 1.5 hours, but wasn’t sure which of the many forks in the track to take. Then we read others in this book who had tried and ended up in Spedalicchio – and I guess for lunch had to have a sandwich at Fausto’s (who will also sell you 1.5 liters of local wine disguised in a Fanta bottle for E0.8 to help with the 1.5 hour walk back up to Calboccia), so we drove to Preggio maybe 15 minutes. We didn’t try Locanda del Capitano in Montone because they aren’t open for lunch, others in this book imply they are so maybe this has changed recently.

Jan and Sestillio looked after us as perfect hosts, and we fell in love with the Niccone Valley during our stay, as well as Calboccia. No doubt we will be back.’ ”
R. and M.J. W (California)

“It just occurred to me that I never thanked you for the wonderful time we had at Calboccia in September. It was absolutely beautiful and I think about returning all the time. (And stare longingly at my photos…) Thank you,”
R.S. (New York)

“Having just returned from a further holiday, just a short note (the longer version is in your visitors’ book) to say thank you for all you help and how much Ella and I enjoyed staying at Calboccia. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place in a wonderful setting. We took the advice of one of your earlier guests and spent much of our time simply relaxing at Calboccia, feeling no need to move from such a delightful place. Thank you again for all your help, the extra Saturday night and putting up with crazy Englishmen who arrive after midnight – you’ll be pleased to hear that with your directions we arrived without any problems at all. Best Wishes,”
D. & E. S. (England)

“Your villa, Calboccia, has been reviewed in our newsletter. I would be happy to send you a copy of the issue if you would forward me your address. Thank you. Regards,”
Susannah Clark
Countryside Vacations
P.O. Box 975
Melrose, MA 02176
888-505-8800 toll-free

Review: “Calboccia: It was absolutely wonderful. It’s a great converted farmhouse with a small, separate house, that was once the barn. The house consists of two large apartments that can be rented separately, or the connecting staircase can be opened and the house rented as one unit. It was very charming. It is owned by Californians, so it was equipped with almost everything an American would want. Linens were included, but to use the washer took forever. We had to pay for electricity, and utilities are expensive in Italy. And we had to pay for the final cleaning…..It was in a wonderful location, in that every day we could go to a different one of the hilltowns and it was never more than an hour’s drive and often less. It was five miles from town. The only downside was that although we were told that the house was on the top of a hill, we didn’t absorb the fact that it was so remote….Of course, if it had not been remote, it wouldn’t have had the same feel to it. You couldn’t have had the views without being on top of the hill. There was nothing around – there was no noise; all you heard was birds singing. It was in a beautiful spot. We never would have gotten any of that if we had been in town It was worth it. It was everything we thought it would be, maybe a little bit more. We had a wonderful time…..I dealt directly with the owner. He answered all the questions we had about the house, about the setup, about the town that was nearby. Since he owned the place and lived there I think a month every year, he could answer all our questions. Everything went smoothly.”
B. R. (New York) and M.W. (Maryland)

“We have been meaning to write to you since our return from Italy to say THANK YOU for a wonderful week at Calboccia. We have traveled to Tuscany and Umbria many times over the past 20 years but our best trip, by far, was the time we spent at Calboccia. What a pleasant surprise to go to a place that actually lived up to its advertised description and was more beautiful than the photographs. Is it too early to make reservations for next year?”
R. and P. T.

“Dear Behrsin Family: A much belated “Thank you.” Our stay at “Calboccia” this past summer was the highlight of our month-long motor journey through Europe. Our journey began in Paris. Since we had two weeks prior to our arrival in Umbria, we decided to get off the main roads and see the countryside as much as possible. Our route took us to places like Honfleur, St. Mere E’glise, Fort-Sur-Geronde, Nice, Florence, and, at our appointed time: Spedalicchio. When we arrived at Spedellicchio, we stopped at Fausto’s alimentari (sp?) and bought groceries and mentioned we were going to “Calboccia.” Upon hearing “Calboccia,” Fausto treated us like family – a charming man – kind of reminded us of the actor Peter Falk. We met Sestilio, followed him up to “our home” for a week– and what a great location. Sestilio was very helpful, informative, and gave us several tips on the area – what to see, visit, etc. One of our favorite places he suggested is the hill town of Montone; the people there, the food was outstanding, not to mention the beauty of the area. And, yes, as your literature in the house suggested, we went back to Fausto’s and purchased some of his wine – excellent — especially with pasta — and I assume the wine contained no sulfites/ala Napa Valley wines. Just to mention, and in contrast, our return trip to Paris took us via Lake Como, Pontressina in the Alps, Innsbruck, Rothenburg, Bastogne, Rheims and Paris, however, and without a doubt, the highlight of our motor adventure was our stay at “Calboccia”— everything went our way — weather, driving, food and delightful people. We relished our time at “Calboccia,” and made it a point to be back each day no later than 4 PM to just sit, enjoy the sun on the patio with a book–our quiet time. What more could one want? Again, thank you for sharing your wonderful home with us and offering us an escape from reality…a vacation to remember. Our very best to all– Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.”
B and L. A (California)


“Thank you so much for the magical week at Calboccia – it was perfect. What an amazing place. I can’t tell you how restful it was to hike in the afternoon, cook, sit by the fire, listen to music, and breathe the Umbrian air. We also did some sight-seeing– had a great adventure in Montepulciano (of which I pass along a souvenier!). I left a new supply of candles and some new books for the library….Again, I can’t thank you enough.”
N.H, California

“Just a brief note as it is a very busy day following a very busy week following our return a week ago from Italy. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Calboccia. Our major problem was that we had too little time there. At least another 4 or 5 days would have been the minimum time for us to really get into the swing of things. The Essiccatoio was just right for us. Your restoration of the building (actually both buildings) is fantastic. The hill top setting is beyond description. In addition to Calboccia being so nice, we want you to know how wonderful Sestilio is as both the person who provides the orientation and the “on call” local resource. He really is a great guy, very informative, very interesting and very hospitable. We hope that at some point he comes to New York for a visit so we can be of assistance to him and his family. Finally, La Chusia was all that has been said about it. Dada and Claudio were out of town but the dining could not have been any better if they had been there. Clearly, their daughter has learned the family cooking secrets. Again, thank you so much for all your help. We hope to make a return visit in the future, possible during a cooler period. Do let me know how things are going along with you and if you have any NYC visit plans.”
B.R. and R.S., New York

“I apologize for being so slow to contact you following our visit to Calboccia in early June, but we have spent the past month dealing with the aftermath of a large oak tree falling on our house a few days prior to our departure. We removed the tree immediately from the roof and had a full house tarp placed over the damaged area. It allowed us to leave on time and deal with repairs upon our return. All is now well. Needless to say, we had another wonderful two weeks at Calboccia. Weather perfect and no hitches whatsoever. Wild flowers and broom in full bloom and sunsets were spectacular, extending ‘happy hours’ on the stone terrace to double length. We were able to have Angelina provide our dinner on two occasions, and, as always, the food was excellent. On the first Sunday we enjoyed our noon meal at La Chiusa (superb, of course), and dined in a different restaurant each evening in the nearby villages (using Sestilio’s and prior guests recommendations). It’s impossible to get a bad or mediocre meal in any of them, so we all six of us returned with a good deal of added weight. Part of our eating ritual was our daily consumption of gelato as a mid afternoon ‘pickup’. As you know, early June is probably one of the best times for touring. We visited about ten of the ‘hill’ towns in Umbria and Tuscany and seldom encountered more than a few tourists. It’s a small world note. In Pienza we were having a cappuccino at a sidewalk table, and an American couple sat down to do the same. It turned out that the husband was a student who worked closely with me at the Georgetown University Library back in 1952. We didn’t recognize each other at first, but, after our minds re-focused, we each remembered exactly what the other had look like 50 some years ago. This morning I gave information on Calboccia to a friend who expressed an interest. I will continue to sing the praises of Calboccia to everyone I meet. I met Gianni while walking on the road. He invited our group to have ‘tea’ at his Alpaca farm. It was a delightful experience. He and his wife are both intelligent and interesting people. It’s obvious that they have a great affection for you. Warmest regards,”
J. & J. J, Maryland

“I wanted to belatedly let you know we had a wonderful visit to Calboccia. We found it an enjoyable respite on our travels, and we would gladly recommend it to others. Both the house and property were beautiful, and it is a great base for exploring surrounding towns. Sestilio was charming and helpful; a good ambassador for the house. I’m now back at work after a ten week sabbatical, wondering why we all don’t move to Italy and live there……”
A. L., California

“Just a note to thank you for creating such a wonderful place in Umbria and for providing an opportunity to meet Sestilio. Without him, I would have failed buying vegetables 101 at the COOP. Our stay was more than hoped for. We were able to relax and enjoy all that beauty and wonderful food and not even think about work once. Again, thank you.”
S.T., New Jersey

“We have finally returned home after seven weeks in France and Italy, and I wanted to tell you what a good time we had at Calboccia. Sestilio was great; we really didn’t need him for anything, but he was there just in case. We so enjoyed the comments in the book from other occupants and used their suggestions. We had a wonderful meal at LaChiusa – the potato-cheese bread was the best we’ve ever had, and their gnocchi was wonderful. We also visited the alpaca farm and enjoyed that too. Never saw the wild boar or mushroom gatherers (we saw them other places). You have a wonderful place there, and we had a delightful time. I am glad I found you on the Internet. Thanks. “
N. H., California

“I forgot to let you know how fabulous Calboccia is and what a wonderful time we had! Sestilio was such a sweet, nice and helpful man and the country was gorgeous. Talk to you later to fill you in on more!”
C. R, California

‘Calboccia’ was the ‘slow’ part of our trip through Italy-after a week and half running around the cities of Northern Italy, it was time for some open space! We took more time to do everything. Long hikes in the woods to explore abandoned houses, three hour long dinners, languid sunsets, lots of reading in front of the fire and sipping wine on the porch outside. We locked our watches away and developed a slower rhythm and took it all in. We are now ready to head home, relaxed and re-charged. Thank you for allowing us to experience Umbria in this way. Our honeymoon memories will always be linked with your home.”
K.M. and I.L.,Germany and California

“We loved our stay; it immersed us in the essence of Italy. You have created a small paradise, with peace, quiet, and magnificent views. We deeply enjoyed visiting the hill towns in Umbria and Tuscany, walking the cobblestones, visiting the churches, squares, and museums….Staying in and cooking dinner was also delightful, and we got the sunset thrown in.”
J.B. and J.N., California

“I think I finally know what ‘civilization’ is – or what it is ‘supposed to be.’ It’s not living like a hermit, and its not what goes on in the larger commercialized cities. It’s here….where you can feel that a near perfect balance has been achieved. A week is too short a time for a place like this. The days seem to be a unique combination of peace and relaxation, and the feeling that you need more hours in the day to see all that each town has to offer. Bill and I are in Italy for the first time. This is his birthday trip and I am so glad to share it with him….We can’t think of a better place from which to base our daily outings. This has truly been our ‘home” for these 7 seven days. “
W.S.and S.T., New Jersey

“It has been wonderful! After a week at Calboccia, unfortunately we have to leave tomorrow! Too short a stay-we will be back. Right now we are sitting around the fireplace with a beautiful fire roaring after just finishing a wonderful dinner. I attended a cooking class at La Chiusa, which was great. Dada and Masha taught us how to make wonderful pasta and gnocchi and after spending the afternoon in kitchen, we were able to enjoy the dinner and all of Dada’s special desserts. I thank God for the opportunity to visit this romantic farmhouse high up in the hills of Umbria. We shall return. Thank you and Sestilio for all your help.”

“What a wonderful week! After reading the preceding pages in the House Guest Book, I continue the tradition. Like the others who have written in these pages, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our stay at ‘Calboccia’. So much, in fact, that we spent 2 of our 7 days staying right here in this magical place. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the deck, sipping the wine we purchased yesterday at Montepulciano, watching my wife as she washed clothes and chased the sun around the house to find a place to dry. We dined at many wonderful restaurants in the area…but none compared to those at ‘Calboccia”!While our entire trip was fantastic, the time we shared in this beautiful place has been the center piece of our trip. Sestilio was an unexpected bonus, making us feel so welcome. God willing, we will return soon.”
F. & J. N., California

“We leave tomorrow after a lovely week in and around Umbria. Sestilio was most helpful, and was pleasant and very welcoming. It was a good feeling knowing he was available if we needed him. Our thanks and appreciation. Our thanks also for creating these lovely two houses for wayfarers to relax and feel at home. Yes, and as also for previous guests, we appreciated your library which we did not have enough time to more than skim, and your tape collection which set the stage with opera for being in Italy. It has been a lovely experience which we will talk about for a long time. Again, thanks for providing this wonderful setting from which to appreciate Umbria. We shall cherish our memories.”
N. & A. H., New Hampshire

“Having gotten up early to get ready to go, I am sitting at the desk in the living room. There is a thin cloud layer of white very low in the valley. There is another much thicker layer above. A gold light is behind the clouds above and so they look different. Now I see light on the hills on the other side of the valley. Perhaps not having a camera is just as well. No one instant is the same here. The beauty of many moments will remain in my mind’s eye. I am lucky to have been here this week. Thank you and thank you…………This place is one for sharing experiences and since I had a very special someone with whom to share, I am lucky beyond words….These moments will never be forgotten; they are beyond the clouds.”
D.L., California

“Fell in love with the Niccone Valley the minute we drove down into it. We had just come from Tuscany, in the Montepulciano area, and thought that it was beautiful, but the woods, the deep valley, was so green compared to Tuscany. This was what I thought Italy would be….We have felt so at home here and even with the adventure of next week in Venice, we are reluctant to leave ‘Calboccia.’ The view of the valley below from ‘Calboccia’ will forever be imprinted in our minds.”
S. & N. N., California

“We love people with vision and the fortitude to make their dreams appear before them. We also love risk takers. You are such people. It’s clear that you love ‘Calboccia’ by the love that you have poured into this property. Thanks for the opportunity to spend time here. Sestilio is a gentleman; calm, eloquent and expressive. We only spent an hour with him going through the “opening up” process, but we know that had we had any kind of problems, he would have been there to help. He made it clear that he was only a phone call away, and we took him at his word. Quite reassuring. Grazie a lei, Sestilio. We’re sorry, summer people, but we hardy and adventurous winter types get to see stuff you don’t: the cold air sharpens colors so the hills across the valley are truly RED next to green next to umber-you get the idea; the moon and stars…..more on that later; you summer people see the leaves on the trees as shelter from the sun; oh, I know they rustle hypnotically in rhythm with the3 birds and the soft summer breezes; however, you can’t see through them to the packs of wild boar who are speaking in Cinghialese and plotting to assail you (we can see them doing it and have time to escape to shelter inside!); we winter people see the trees as future firewood for the long evening reading by the fire- reading wine labels; the moon and the stars – the moon should pay rent for parking on Jan’s roof- it almost brings one to tears – the clarity and presence of it; what can one say regarding the stars except for this story: New Year’s Eve, we saw mezzanotte come and go. At 2 AM, Deborah noticed that as the dew on each leaf of grass reached the freezing point, a momentary diamond brilliance flashed forth-hundreds of diamonds in the grass, or as she described it, a “pave of diamonds”, lay before us. The brilliance lasted for 20-45 seconds but the effect it has on the memory will last years- then we looked up at the duomo of twinkling stars!! The immense and the minute…..

Summer people, we envy you being here! Every minute you spend here is a minute we wish we could share with you. After visiting St. Francis’ cathedral, Orvieto’s cathedral, cathedrals in Rome, Gubbio, etc, we realized there is one 1.5 km from where you are sitting reading this. Drop in, open the unlocked gate and door. Sit in one of the pews for a minute. Look at Mary and her son, and leave satisfied that you have spent important time here.”
F. & D. M., California


“A quick note to say that we enjoyed sharing your home. It was a special week for all of us – made all the more special by seven days of sunshine (cool nights, however). Not having other guests about was an extra bonus. We admire the labor of love Calboccia has required. Beautiful hints of spring all around us and the vista of olive trees and vineyards with a soft red cast as the sun set will be hard to equal. Sestillio is a gem. Your spot is very special. Warmly,”
M & P M. (Massachusetts)

“We just wanted to thank you for giving us the opportunity to stay at Calboccia. It was wonderful. We can’t say enough about your fantastic home. The picture of the valley, the castle across the way, the olive trees and the house itself will stick in our memories forever. We wanted you to know that Sestillio was very helpful and is a great representative for you. I think you both have a good system going together. We ate one night at La Chuisa and it was fantastic. We let them choose for us and it was food to die for! Thank you again so much and know that Calboccia will always get our recommendation.”
L J (California).

“Just a quick note to let you know how much we enjoyed our stay at Calboccia. It was everything and more than we had anticipated. It was truly breathtaking to sit on the terrace and watch the sun set over the Tuscan hills. I also wanted to let you know how much we appreciated being met by Sestilio, who led us to Calboccia and explained the workings of everything in the house, as well as offering useful advice on trains, groceries, entertainment etc. We took a guided walk in the hills around Calboccia with David Lloyd-Edwards, which was a lot of fun. When we told him about how good Sestilio had been to us, he said that you were very lucky to have such a person greet guests. The guests who were upstairs during our stay were fun and friendly – we even enjoyed an evening of wine and food with them on our last night. One of them is a judge, I am a lawyer, although I work as an editor….. We hope to return to Umbria/Tuscany some day, and if so, we will most likely be in touch again. Thank you for offering such a lovely place for travelers like us to visit. Kind regards,”
P P (Canada)

“We had a great time in our two weeks at the upper unit. On our departure day (27/9), we had a boar walk in front of the car about 100′ below the house at about 6 am, previously we saw a red fox on the road also. Weather was great, Sestillio was helpful, and after driving down from France for 2 weeks, it felt like home. We did attend the function in town, which was fun. We hope to reserve again some time in the future. Everything was as your website indicated, and so we were very happy with the experience. Now, the more mundane task of hearing matters in superior court, which is my usual day job, will be an interesting transition from having to decide which red to have with our 3 hour lunch. Thanks again.”
S & J N (Washington)

“We have been meaning to write and thank you SO MUCH for the wonderful 2 weeks at Calboccia!! Sestilio gave us a great orientation, and everything worked out perfectly. We did quite a bit of sight seeing in Umbria. There were 4 of us who put on some substantial mileage – others got in some quality shopping. We cooked some outstanding meals in the Calboccia kitchens, and ate out at the recommended locandas on the other nights. All of the trattorias were fantastico! We especially liked the Locanda del Nonna Gelsa at Niccone -they pulled out all the stops for our group (we ate there 3 nights). We also managed to eat gelato almost every day at the little gelatoria downtown Umbertide next to the old church. We also made several visits to the bicycle shop “Cicli Alpini” in Umbertide – very nice folks! We had some great rides. We rode the little loop up to Preggio then over the top to Umbertide and back to Calboccia 4 or 5 times – a challenging climb, and an awesome descent with an incredible view. We rode to Assisi and back a couple of times – a nice, flat ride till you get to Assisi. The ride to Gubbio was very pretty, but a little more traffic than I had thought would be on that road. We had a nice ride over to Montepulciano, and Siena. We drove down to Perugia to check out the Jazz festival – very nice – and then rode a climb from Orvieto to Todi when it was 38 deg centigrade! Ouch! I guess the most memorable ride was at the Tour de France up the Alp du Huez 15k with 21 switchbacks at 12% grade – epic! We also had time to do some sightseeing in Rome on our last day. St Peter’s is incredible! We look back at the pictures now and can’t wait to start planning for the next trip in 2005- thanks again for the wonderful stay at Calboccia. I hope that we can meet some time – I would like to hear the story of finding, buying, maintaining property in Italy. From what I have read – it can be an “interesting” experience. We are going to be in Sonoma in October for the Harvest Fair. I don’t know which I look forward to more – drinking great wine or biking the wonderful hills and valleys in the fall. If you are going to be around the first week of October, maybe we can meet up somewhere? Thanks again for sharing your wonderful house. Best wishes,”
P V (Wisconsin)

“You are free to use any comments we wrote in our page at the house during our stay late September/early October this year (24.09.03-04.10.03). We have beautiful sunset and hill town videos; remember music filled evenings cooking our meals in glorious solitude after countryside day journeys. The people before us, writing in the house journal, gave day trip suggestions that one would never have seen in the traditional guide books. Your website is a great marketing tool for your property, and your guests are a tremendous asset to enhancing the stay. If ever any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact us. We’ve given your website to many since our return, unselfishly, at this point. Sestillio is a true friend to you, and a sure spokesperson to marketing your property. For the uninitiated, we easily felt like locals. We hope to come back some day. Thanks for the opportunity.”
C & K H (Illinois)

“Another great stay at Calboccia—too short; like the others. We’ll be back.”
J & M B (Texas)

“My family just got to spend three weeks here at Calboccia. I am sad as I sit here on our last night, knowing that we have to leave tomorrow, but feeling completely satisfied and delighted with our stay here. We couldn’t have wished for a nicer vacation. This house was the perfect fit for me, my husband, and my almost two year old little boy. We did a fair amount of cooking here and I found the cookbooks to be quite good. Sestilio kindly arranged for a local babysitter for us. Though those two nights were quite pleasant with tasty meals out, some of the best food we had was the meals Angela cooked for us at the house. I can’t believe she doesn’t own her own restaurant. Thank you for a beautiful and magical time here at Calboccia. We loved it.”
R, E, & T W (California)

“Thank you for making our stay at Calboccia such a memorable one. We enjoyed the comfort of the house, watching the fog over the valley and the singing of the birds…and, best of all, the hammock. Truly relaxing. Grazie mille. We hope to be back.”
L & M K (California)

“The peace, quiet, beauty and solitude of Calboccia are everything – and more. We liked the modern conveniences and intensely enjoyed the grounds, flowers, woods and sunset views! Of special note is the Calboccia library – fantastic; we’d like to spend a week just reading and re-reading some of these great books.
D & P A (Washington)

“Our three families ages 8 to 83 spent a wonderful 2 weeks at Calboccia. For the 4 children and grandmother, it was their first trip to Italy. The rest of us had been biking in Italy before. The two houses were perfect for all of us…we enjoyed every minute of our visit. We hope to be able to return to this lovely place again soon.”
S & P V and T, C, M and N L, and T M, and Grandma A M (Wisconsin)

“What an absolutely wonderful vacation we’ve had – our honeymoon, as a matter of fact. The house and surrounding hills are so beautiful and peaceful; we are so glad that we stayed here as opposed to a city. Had enjoyable trips to Preggio, Montone, Perugia, Assisi, and Siena, but we also spent time in Umbertide, shopping and sitting outdoors at the bars. We were sad to leave. We can’t wait to return- hopefully soon.”
R & D C (Massachusetts)

“As a Christmas gift this past year, I gave my husband this trip as a once in a lifetime offering. I couched the gift in the trappings of being a celebration of our 35th wedding anniversary. He couldn’t believe that I would actually put together a trip to Umbria and Tuscany on my own without letting him in on it all first! We traveled the countryside, hiked the roads, visited mountaintop villages, been lost more often than we would like to admit, and learned about the people of the region. The people here have shown great humor and courtesy to us in attempting to communicate to us. Three times, folks we had asked directions of actually got into their cars, left their own activities, and showed us the way we needed to go by actually leading us. One of my favorite moments was when Antonella and her son, Mattia, came to water the plants. We said “non parlo Italiano” and they “non parlo Inglese,” and we managed to communicate with each other using a phrase book and an Italian dictionary. Mattia’s (age 12) eyes were aglow as he told us about his school, his sports, the Calboccia property. It was fun. This place will stay in my heart’s memory bank for years to come.
P.S. I’m a “kept” husband and love “being taken” to Calboccia. Susan gave me a wonderful, unique, romantic drawn-out-dinner (2-3 hours!) escapade to the Umbrian countryside. We’re not only grateful to God for our marriage, but for the quiet, relaxed pace of our stay in this rural part of Italy. We’ve been cared for, pampered, well-fed and intellectually stimulated. Your library is tops! Susan’s the greatest for giving us such a gift! Thanks for the setting! Gloria a Dios,”
S & D D (California)

“We are grateful for a wonderful week in this wonderfully peaceful place.”
S S and B D (New Mexico)

“Clearly, one week is not enough at this special place. But it was a glorious week in all respects, nonetheless. We had both houses filled with my friends to celebrate my 50th birthday and I can’t think of a better place to have been!! We ate, cooked, laughed, ate some more, drank great wine, played games and ate more still! It was truly wonderful and I am grateful to all of them for coming and to jan for making this house available and so very comfortable. Thanks also to Sestilio for giving us the instructions, keys, and helping us so graciously, and to Angela for the great meal Wednesday night. Grazie tante!”
G C and friends (California, Minnesota, Spain and Italy)

“We’re sorry that we could not make it a couple of weeks earlier to join Gianna for the birthday celebration, but thanks to her for finding this beautiful place – thanks to Jan and Sestilio, and we too enjoyed one of Angela’s spectacular dinners on our last night. Umbria is fabulous and we’ll be back.”
J & F A (California)

“What a wonderful quiet week—everything here is so simple and refreshing! Thank you for sharing your home with us!”
S & J T (California)

“Learnings We’ve Had. To the guests who find “Calboccia.”…Be at peace, simplify, let down, and just “Be” here. You are fortunate to have discovered this time and place; to be able to bring yourselves and perhaps other loved family and friends here. Keep a daily journal, along with your photos, films, etc. Pull off the road, stand, listen, breathe. Smile at everyone; no, smile “with” everyone. Celebrate the fathers and grandfathers walking with children; the nonnas who wave as you pass in your car on the village streets. There are many wonderful restaurant suggestions in the Calboccia housebook. Support these and other local artists. But also, shop the markets, the CO-OP, the Enoteca Enzio Bari, treat yourself to some real home cooking of your own. An energy will grab you and maybe even delight you with your own creativity and culinary gifts. Grazie Jan and Family for opening Calboccia to others and for the gift of Sestilio – a warm beautiful man with a good heart.”
C & K H (Illinois)

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