For two days we have been staying at an agriturismo in Umbria, Italy. An agriturismo is a working farm that also has rooms for guests. Ours is a B&B that also has a restaurant. It is located about 10 miles outside of Assisi, perched on a peaceful hill with beautiful views of the Italian countryside. It has been a great place to slow down and enjoy the country, but getting situated here was a challenge.

We took a train from Rome 30 minutes past our destination to Perugia because there were no rental cars in Assisi. We were bummed when the rental car agent told us he didn’t have a GPS for us, and we were without any maps. We called the B&B, got directions and hoped for the best.

Where to begin with Manuela, the receptionist at the B&B….First of all, we didn’t have a confirmed reservation because Manuela “had a meeting” one day and didn’t have time to respond to our email reservation request. (Having been here for two days, we laugh at the idea that anyone working here is too busy to respond to an email…lets just say this place isn’t exactly an epicenter of buzzing activity.) Since we didn’t have a written confirmation, we called twice to confirm availability. Manuela assured us we had a confirmed booking (although no credit card info was provided).

Before setting off in the rental car we called for directions. Manuela assured us it was very easy to find – just follow signs for “Galdov Tatema” (that’s how she spelled it to Brent). After passing Assisi without seeing signs for Galdov Tatema, Katie called back and again Manuela made us feel like morons for not seeing the exit, only this time she spelled it, “Glado Teteme.” Back and forth on the freeway we went…five times looking for the sign, until we finally did the old fashioned thing and pulled over to ask a gas station attendant for directions. He happily drew us a map and in broken English, sent us on our way. There it was, right up the road, “Gualdo Tadino.”  We were glad we had the hand-written map because the B&B was about 16 kilometers further up the road than Manuela had said.

What should have been 45 minutes but turned out to be two hours later, we finally arrived at the B&B. Not shockingly, Manuela could not find our reservation. She had the matzah balls to ask us if we had a paper reservation. We kindly reminded her that she had been too busy to send us one. She mouse-clicked through the calendar with a troubled look on her face…she didn’t have our reservation. Yes, she had two nights available, but after that we would have to be moved to their sister building (not far away, but annoying nonetheless). Manuela, this information would have been useful when we called twice before…when we gave you our name and asked you for directions for our imminent arrival…

All told, Manuela’s shortcomings have been completely offset by the beautiful grounds and amazing meals here. The pastas are home made, the sausage and pork comes from the pigs on the farm, and the vegetables are grown on the grounds. The B&B also boasts to be one of the last monastic breweries in Europe, and we had the opportunity to tour the small brewery and taste their brews (we’re tasting them daily in fact.)

We have been enjoying the local olive oil and wine and even made a day trip to Montefalco to visit some of the producers of the wines we have been drinking. To visit the wineries here you are supposed to make a reservation (we didn’t). One winery did not mind and was very attentive to us during our tasting – answering all sorts of questions. At another winery it was a bit more interesting. An Italian-speaking man, approximately 90 years of age, was happy to give us a tasting but only after a slap and two sucker punches to Brent. We’re still not sure what that was about, but after that, he was seemingly very jovial (although we didn’t understand a word he said), very generous with his pours (to our glass and to his own), and sent us on our way with a free bottle of wine and the name of his friend in Santa Barbara (presumably for us to connect with since we told him we hailed from San Francisco).

We are planning to do lots of relaxing by the pool with a couple day trips sprinkled in. By the way, 30 minutes after checking in, Manuela told us that someone had just cancelled and that we could stay here for the rest of our stay. We’re convinced she just found our reservation and realized she already had the room booked for us.

For more pictures, check out our Umbria photo album dated 20th May 2010