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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Taylor

How To Live Like A Local In Umbria: A Proofreader’s House-Sitting Adventure

Experience the charm and tranquillity of the Umbrian hills through a delightful house-sitting adventure. Join us as we embark on a week-long journey filled with breathtaking landscapes, memorable encounters, and the joy of furry companionship. Discover why Umbria, often considered the 'green heart' of Italy, offers a unique and authentic Italian experience that rivals its renowned neighbour, Tuscany.

Image of an Umbrian landscape with the title of the blog underneath

‘Would you like to do a house and dog sit in the Umbrian hills in June?’ I asked my husband, Jason.

‘Of course’, he said, ‘apply now!’


I should have known that he would jump at the chance to do this sit because 1) he had flagged the profile so it would alert us when new dates became available and 2) we had loved our three-week trip around Italy back in 2018. We talk about it often, especially when drinking a delicious bottle of red wine that we picked up from a winery in Puglia saying ‘Not many of these left; we must go back and get some more.’ or ‘I wonder if they have an online shop?’


White and red signposts for footpaths

The Enchanting Landscapes of Umbria

Back in 2018, we covered a lot of ground. But there were still plenty of areas left undiscovered. I wanted to experience the east-coast beaches. This house sit was only two and a half hours away from Ancona, which is a city on Italy’s Adriatic coast and the capital of the Marche region. As the sit was for a week, I could justify adding on driving through France, Germany and Switzerland to rest on the coast for two days before meeting our homeowners in Umbria. The Umbrian region has often been described as the poor cousin to Tuscany. It has been said that Tuscany is the perfect place to explore iconic city centres, while Umbria is ideal for soaking in the true Italian experience. What we found was that Umbria has more small undiscovered towns, and it's generally easier to escape the crowds in the region known as Italy's ‘green heart’.


cita di castello a town in Umbria, Italy

A Challenging Arrival and a Warm Welcome

Well, it certainly felt like we were in uncharted territory on our arrival at our house sit. Snaking, windy roads hugged the sides of the lush green mountains. The air was cooler as we rose up and up towards our destination. Vineyards and wheat fields simmering in the June heat had given way to verdant forests. Reassuring tarmac disappeared from beneath our wheels, and gravel paved our ever-climbing route uphill. The clear instructions given to us stated that we must endure this challenge for at least eight minutes. We did the usual ‘turning into the wrong driveway’, which was pretty impressive as there were only two properties at the end of the track. We were greeted joyfully by our new furry friend and were shown around the stunningly renovated property by our wonderful hosts.


wire haired Dutch pointing griffon dog

‘Over there, 300 meters away, is Tuscany. And everything behind you is Umbria.’ I think Jason and I were just getting our breath back from the hair-raising drive when this impressive statement took it away again. The landscape was laid out before us stretching away, challenging my glasses prescription to its limits. It was a scene that one could never tire of and would always give something new every day to the viewer. We have been very fortunate over the past eight years to sit for some lovely people, with adorable pets, in stunning houses and locations. This was no exception.


Black and white butterfly resting on purple wildflowers

Embracing the Umbrian Lifestyle; Living Like a Local

We spent the first two days getting to know the charming, young wire-haired Dutch pointing griffon. She was very caring and affectionate. A great companion on our early morning and late evening walks in the hills. The wildflowers competed to take our attention away from the impressive views. Colourful butterflies alighted on the field scabious and wild sweet peas. This truly was a time and place to recharge the batteries from busy working lives; mine as a freelance proofreader (although I can still work remotely as long as there is wifi) and Jason's from running his own landscape gardening business.


A woman using a laptop sat under in the shade of a tree

Exploring the Wines of Umbria

The long-held dream of drinking some more of that delicious Puglian wine was not to be. We did, however, get to taste some locally-made wines and visit their vineyard. Our homeowners helped arrange it for us, and it was a highlight of our trip. Alongside four delightful Germans, we sampled five wines and one gin. Gin?! Rossana of La Palerna explained, as she showed us around, the reasons behind the eight-hectare estate's choices of grape varieties Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Cabernet, and Sauvignon. The vineyard is at an altitude ranging from 550 to 600 meters, with a southwest exposure. So the area is high and cool, with plenty of sun. Under that same baking sun, we sipped a single varietal Pinot Noir, sparkling white wine, a rosé and three reds. The wines were paired with some ‘nibbles’ to highlight the types of foods that might complement them. Perhaps we were a little closer to our question of how to live like a local in Umbria.


Vineyard with landscape stretching out beyond

Reflections on How to Live Like a Local in Umbria

Spending a week house-sitting in the Umbrian hills was a tonic for the mind and the soul. Having good wifi is a blessing. It’s great to be able to keep in touch with my proofreading clients, even when I’m on a break. Most of all, though, we loved chilling at the house in the hills with the dog, because animals are the best company. They listen to everything you have to say and never judge you. And when you have run out of words, they don’t mind that either. We are so grateful to have discovered house sitting and all the benefits it provides. Meeting new people, discovering new places, and, of course, broadening the mind.


cafe set under the leafy canopy of lime trees

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less travelled by, / And that has made all the difference.’ The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost


 

I would love to hear from you. If you would like to talk to me about house-sitting, I can pass on a discount code for Trusted Housesitting membership, which we belong to, see our profile here. Or, if I can provide you with proofreading services on your own blog or your latest novel, please get in touch. I’d love to know more about your manuscript or business. Email me: the_blue_pencil@yahoo.com

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