I was standing on a hilltop at the heart of Umbria with a 360-degree panoramic view over stunning scenery comprising of green fields of olive trees and vineyards. The valley with its velvet colours and shades, painted with spring flowers, goes far into the foothills of mountainous towns and villages. I was enjoying the peace and tranquility of its natural beauty, listening to the tune of the countryside winds, immersed in my thoughts. The church bell from a tower in Brufu village distracts me and catches my attention.
The summit of the hill was the site of an 18th Century Villa, the boutique SPA Resort of Borgobrufa, where I was staying, near the small village of Brufa in the municipality of Torgiano along the wine road of Strada dei vini del Cantico. An open-air natural terrace is laid around the hotel overlooking the countryside of Umbria with stunning views of the historical cities of Perugia, Assisi and Torgiano.
The 48 hotel rooms have an Italian style interior, furnished in period furniture, with wooden beam ceilings, equipped with modern amenities scattered around the main building, which consist of a spa and restaurant. Many rooms have outdoor patios which open up to the green vineyards and olive fields.
The hotel room prices include access to the spa and a heated swimming pool. The indoor pool opens through a sliding door corridor onto an outdoor heated one, equipped with several water therapy and hydro-massage units. There is also another unheated summer pool with the similar splendid views. The spa also provides Finnish sauna, bio sauna and Turkish steam baths with emotional shower (spraying aroma oil) , an ice fountain and relaxation rooms in conjunction with a solarium, fitness room and other various treatments to enjoy an unforgettable and detoxifying stay in the heart of Umbria. Guests receive a wellness kit and are served with herbal tea.
The hotel provides half board and full board options to guests and serves a daily menu of Italian cuisine with specialties from Umbria. The kitchen is flexible to make meals of your choice to complement a healthy diet at the resort. Ciro D’Amico, the executive chef of Borgobrufa resort is an expert in Umbrian cuisine combined with his past experience by the Amalfi coast. He has his own touch in using raw materials and different recipes with fish. The waiters are speedy in serving guests and thorough in responding to requests as they arise. The breakfast is served as a buffet with a handy juicer to make your own fresh juices.
Borgubrufa has a large lavish restaurant which is normally used for large events, ceremonies and wedding parties and another elevated restaurant surrounded by large windows overlooking the swimming pool which provides a panoramic outlook of Umbrian landscapes and a distant view of Perugia. In my first night in Borgubrufa, I had my dinner in the restaurant which was nicely lit by candles. I was offered to taste the chef’s special appetizer: a piece of fresh salmon lightly marinated in lemon juice served with yogurt ice cream. The lentil soup, a specialty of Castelluccio Di Norcia (Zuppa Di Lenticchie Di Castelluccio) was the best choice to warm me up.
Umbria does not have any border with the sea, but fish is still a favourite in this region. I asked the restaurant manager for fish and he suggested Fillet of Ombrine (Darna Di Ombrina Con Tortino Di Finocchi e Patate e Olive Taggiasche) for my main course. It is a Mediterranean white fish which is served with fennel and potatoes combined with black and green olives. My night would not have been complete without an amazing desert, crafted in capable hands of Ciro. Varizione Di Cloccolato. It comprised of three different varieties, a white chocolate sphere, a milk chocolate mousse and a dark chocolate Semifreddo with Zabaione sauce.
Next day, my dinner was even more innovative. I had Panzanella Umbria as chef’s special for my appetizer, a traditional bread salad served with onions, tomatoes, fresh basil, cucumber, olives, wine vinegar and extra virgin oil. Then I had Ciragnano pasta as my starter, which was very heavy meal as a main course. It was tubes of pasta mixed with monkfish, littleneck Mediterranean clams, tomato sauce and courgettes.
Ciragnano is a small town above the Amalfi Coast. I choose to eat fish for my main course again. Filletto Di Tonno In Crosta Di Seppie is the fillet of red tuna wrapped in a cuttlefish crust over cream of violet potatoes combined with fruit. Semifreddo al Miele, Honey Semifreddo with crumbled chocolate and pistachio sauce concluded my dinner.
The hotel moves at a slow and calm pace, putting you in the loyal care of the staff. The hotel is an adult-only SPA and only up to 15 guests are accepted at any one time in order to keep peace and maintain the quiet atmosphere, which is characteristic of Borgobrufa. You do not feel the passage of time staying at the SPA and walking around the hotel. There is also a lot more to explore nearby. The town of Torgiano is only 4 kilometres away and you can reach the towns of Assisi, Perugia and Gubbio in 25 minutes. Assisi is the city of San Francesco, the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. This historical medieval city is a jewel located at the heart of the Natural Park of Mount Subasio. Perugia is also a medieval town with narrow streets full of monumental architecture, elegant arches and vibrant squares. The ancient town of Gubbio, laid out on the slopes of Mount Ingino is one of rare pre-Roman settlements with many iconic monuments.
Only five minutes walking distance from the hotel you move from nature to art and find yourself in an open air museum of metal and stone sculptures. The village of Brufa contains the site of the ancient Castel Grifone (the original name of the village) which used to be a defensive fortress. An initiative founded in 1987, called “Scultori a Brufa, la strada del vino e dell’arte” (Sculptors at Brufa, the wine and art road), has changed the face of the village and attracted artists from all over the world to display their work every year.
As I walked through the green fields, I saw the outline of a giant metal sculpture. “Arc En Ciel” designed by Carlo Lorenzetti in 1998, stands like a gateway to a new world where art meets flora and fauna. You will find the square bell tower of St. Ermete Church built in 1896 before entering the main Piazza of the village. A huge metal structure, the Porta di Castel Grifone, built by Eliseo Mattiacci in 2003 is the gate to the ancient castle where more statues decorate the village. The museum continues the theme of the green countryside around the village displaying other types of sculpture. The road from Brufa, passing through vineyards and olive tree woods takes you to the wine and oil Museum in Torgiano.
The unique 4-star SPA hotel of Borgobrufa is a rejuvenating wellbeing experience in Umbria. In addition to the use of tennis courts and mountain bikes, enthusiasts can enjoy horse riding and, for the novice, they can book a lesson at the nearby riding school and stables of “il Piccolo Ranch”. The SPA resort can provide a subsidized discount for hotel guests who wish to ride a horse through the picturesque landscapes, packed with yellow poplars and parasol pines, and enjoy the exquisite harmony of nature there.
Ryan Air operate upto 5 non-stop flights to Perugia from Stanstead Airport with fares from as little as £45 one way. For more information visit www.ryanair.com.
The “Borgobrufa Spa Resort”:http://www.borgobrufa.it/en/hotel-perugia/1-0.html is located only 20 minutes drive from Perugia airport. The taxi costs from €20 per person. The hotel rates vary from €115 to €400 per night per person.
For more information about Umbria visit “www.umbriasi.it”:http://www.umbriasi.it and “www.italia.it”:http://www.italia.it.
You can find more images of Umbria and Borgobrufa Resort by visiting “www.amirinia.com/italy”:http://www.amirinia.com/italy.