ITALY, UMBRIA, PERUGIA, LISCIANO NICCONE
19th Century Former Schoolhouse in the Niccone Valley
This stone house in the Niccone Valley in Umbria, very close to the Tuscan border was built in 1869 and was originally home to farmers. Animals were kept in the basement and family life was focussed around the grand fireplace. It later became the schoolhouse for the hamlet – indeed, one of the neighbours studied there. When agriculture was more labour intensive, a shop in the basement sold locally-produced tobacco and other everyday essentials to residents. Nails upon which hams were hung can still be seen in the rafters.
It is owned by an English family who bought the property in 2014, and who since buying it have restored it completely to a high standard, maintaining many great original and traditional features.
The house lies in a small village nestling in birch forests at 400m above sea level, with sweeping views of the valley, a tributary of the Tiber. The stream forms the border between Umbria and Tuscany’s Perugia and Arezzo provinces, respectively. The peaks of Monte Ginezzo and Monte Castiglione separate the valley from the Val di Chiana and Lake Trasimeno at its western end. To the east stand Monte Acuto, with its 360 degree summit panorama above the town of Umbertide, and the mountains of the Le Marche Apennines. A little further down the Tiber Valley, on its slow, sinuous journey to Rome and the Tyrrenian Sea, lays Perugia, an Estruscan fortress city served by direct flights to London, Brussels, Catania, Malta and Tirana. The airport lies in the valley bottom, mid-way between Perugia and Assisi, and is a 45-minute drive from the house. The villages of Lisciano Niccone (Umbria) and Mercatale (Tuscany) are just a few kilometres away, offering a choice of eateries, coffee hang-outs, gelato stops, take-away pizza and shops that cater for most household needs.
A large garden slopes gently downward toward the Niccone Valley and has mature fruit and olive trees. A terrace runs along the front of the house, with breathtaking elevated valley, mountain, castle and forest views – a favourite spot for morning coffee and sundowners.
Kitchen and dining room
Still the focal point of the house, the kitchen and dining area was custom-built by local craftsmen. The shelving unit and storage areas were constructed with timber reclaimed from restoration projects in other old houses in Umbria and Tuscany. The stone worktop and sink were sourced from masons in the medieval walled town of Città di Castello in the Upper Tiber Valley. Iron pot and curtain rails were also hand-made to order.
The Smeg gas range cooker helps foodies to do justice to the fantastic local ingredients, with ample storage in the full-sized A++-rated fridge-freezer.
The living room is linked to the kitchen and dining area to form a large, open plan area. Hand-made ironwork can hold a dividing curtain for greater flexibility. French doors open onto the terrace, overlooking the garden and Tuscan hills beyond. There is a woodburner.
Like the upstairs kitchen, the apartment’s cooking area was custom-made to reflect local traditions, incorporating ancient reclaimed timber, hand-made ironwork and a beautiful original built-in cupboard that was relocated during the restructuring process. Set into the hand-made wooden worktop is an induction hob, with Smeg refrigerator below.
The modern bathroom is finished in custom-made reclaimed stonework and exquisite Apennine stone tiling from quarries around Assisi. Two sets of French doors provide views of the garden. The large bedroom area was remodelled from the old animal stalls and still features the original 19th century date inscription.
2 double bedrooms with shared high-specification Juliet bathroom. Reinforced floors are finished with antique cotto tiles. The wooden furniture echoes treated original roof beams. A large main bedroom enjoys stunning views across the valley, with plumbing in place for a luxury bathtub — what a way to enjoy the panorama across forests and mountains to Pierle castle!
The second bedroom has beautiful partially-exposed stonework and a walk-in shelved cupboard, with an elegant sliding door to the bathroom.
The bathroom is finished to the highest specification with Italian artisan sanitaryware, rain shower head and Assisi stone tiling. A beautiful sink sits atop a wine barrel that was handed down with the house and is part of its history, now modified with capacious internal storage.
Garden and utility room
The lean-to annex housing the utility area has been completely rebuilt. It houses a laundry room style sink unit, A+++-rated 8kg capacity washing machine, modern gas boiler and the pressurised hot and cold water system.
Lisciano Niccone: 4.5km
Lake Trasimeno: 20km
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