On the hill top next to Montegiove you will find the old medieval hamlet of Greppolischieto. The village was renovated some 40 years ago by the Fendi family and is currently used as private holiday homes, with only one family living there permanently.
It has an unreality above it, almost completely out of time. As our friend and blogger Ishita from Italophilia writes after we visited Greppolischieto together:
“Greppolischieto has a tiny piazza, picturesque lanes and stunning countryside views. There are no bars or trattorias here, only uninhabited homes and lost stories. The little village is an absolute stunner yet slightly haunting too. Everything is eerily quiet and empty. It is undoubtedly a special corner of Umbria!”
One of our favourite walks is the trip back and forth to Greppolischieto to enjoy the stunning view over the Trasimeno lake and the fairy tale like nature on the way up there.
End of August and September is just around the corner, the garden is full of delicious apples and blackberries just waiting to be transformed into cakes and other autumn delights.
This cake can be made with cinnamon for the Scandinavian hygge taste or with vanilla for a fresher summer taste. It is nice for dessert or served with a hot cup of tea on a cold autumn or winter afternoon.
1kg apples peeled and chopped
2-3 cups Water
Sugar (depending on how sweet the apples are)
Vanilla sugar or cinnamon
125 g Almonds grated
125 g Butter softened
125 g Brown Sugar
75 g Flour (if gluten free use the flour for bread)
Cook apples in water and lemon juice until tender. When cooked season with sugar, cinnamon or vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 190 C. Butter an ovenproof pie dish.
Pour the cooked apples into the pie dish.
Topping: Mix grated almonds, soft butter, sugar, eggs and the flour.
Pour the topping over the apples and even out.
Bake for 30 minutes 190 C or until the top is golden and crisp.
Remove cake from oven, can be served warm or cold, serve with blackberries and ice cream or whipped cream.
Right now we are in the middle of May and the weather is behaving very different from previous years. It is supposed to be spring with sunny days… but instead we have half day with sun and half day with rain.
The mornings are beautiful with sun and the birds are singing happily and busy making nests and taking care of their young ones. In the afternoons the rain will start pouring down leaving everything green and crisp.
I must admit that I enjoy the weather like this, the summer is always very long and very warm in Montegiove so for me, being north European, it feels refreshing with a spring like this that leaves the garden and park perfectly watered and all water reserves full and ready for the long summer.
I am not worried summer will come and this year it will be greener and prettier than ever!
Umbria in spring is splendid! with blooming flowers, gorgeous views and green landscapes. Especially in an area as full of natural beauty as this one. The countryside of Umbria is often nicknamed the “green heart of Italy,” is beautiful year-round. But in the springtime, when the weather is mild and not too hot the flowers are blooming, it’s especially pretty.
Don’t miss Umbria in springtime.
The evergreen oak trees (Quercus Ilex) in the courtyard were planted in the beginning of 1900 when Lorenzo’s grandfather was born. On these old black and white family photo from 1906, he is standing with his mother in the garden and you can see the young trees in the background. Today more than 100 years later, the tree tops reaches the lover part of the roof.
Before the castle was converted from fortress into country home, there was a wall all the way around the courtyard, but to let light in and to make the garden more open and welcoming the wall was taken down and the trees was planted also as windbreak for the tramontana.
We just love finding old photos and uncover the history of the castle. It is fascinating to think about the Misciattelli generations that lived here before us.
May is the Elderflower season in Montegiove and it is the first sign of spring turning into summer.
When the beautiful flower is blooming, it looks just like a ballet tulle skirt, ready to be worn by an Elderflower Fairy.
The Elderflower Cordial is one of the most refreshing drinks for the summer.
20 Heads of Elderflower (preferable without bugs)
Sugar 1 kg
3 Organic lemons (Juice from two and one lemon in slices)
1 l boiling water
1. Shake the heads of the elderflowers well, picking off any bugs.
2. Place the elderflowers, sugar, lemon juice and lemon slices in a large bowl.
3. Add the boiling water and stir.
4. Leave in a cold place to infuse for 2-3 days stirring occasionally.
5. Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
6. Fill the cordial into clean sterilized bottles. Store in a cool dark place or freeze in plastic containers to keep for longer.
Drink cold or hot diluted with water, -also delicious combined with lemon juice in a sorbet.
This little fellow woke us up one rainy morning; he was sitting outside on the window bars insisting on rehearsing his oop-oop-oop over an over again. Very charming to start with but after a while it got a little monotonous and we got up to find out what it was all about.
It felt very special to witness this pretty bird singing and we managed to make a blurry photo through the window glass.
In Italy the Upupa is also known as the butterfly bird. When it fly it looks like a giant butterfly as the wings are half closing at the end of each beat or short sequence of beats. It is also called the Legionary Bird because of its distinctive “crown” of feathers on the top of the head that it can open like a fan.
It is a colourful and very pretty bird known back to ancient Egypt and it is one of the fascinating animals that live in the forest around Castello di Montegiove.
We have finally started the construction of a stairway down to the swimming pool, after many years with a miserable and very challenging steep footpath to the pool area.
It is our own construction team that is building everything with local stones from the fields below the castle. All stones are placed like a never-ending jigsaw puzzle and it is amazing to follow the meticulous work, it seems like an endless stone snake has started its track from the top of the hill and down.
Now we are just waiting for warm summer days to come!
I am already looking forward to the Easter holiday here at Castello di Montegiove. We always go for long walks or bicycle rides with friends and family and we often end up having an improvised picnic when the first warm sun rays allows it.
In Montegiove, Easter is celebrated with traditional food such as roasted lamb, artichokes and the delicious Colomba Pasquale witch is a cake shaped as a dove. All the ladies in the village gather around the old wood fired ovens to bake “Le Torte di Pasqua” witch is a cheese bread served with eggs and cured meat for the Easter lunch or Easter picnic.
On Palm Sunday, olive branches are handed out to people during the mass and on Easter Monday, there will be dances, concerts and games involving huge Italian chocolate Easter eggs.
For the Easter processione at the night of Good Friday, the statues of Maria and Jesus are brought out of the village church and paraded through the streets of Montegiove and the participants are wearing ancient attire.
So many things are going on in the Umbrian hill towns during Easter. In Panicale a small town near Montegiove they play “Ruzzolone” where huge wheels of cheese, weighing about 4 kilos, is rolled around the village walls as a local version of golf, so much fun.
For our family Easter is the time of the year where we take time off to enjoy each other’s company and Montegiove becomes alive after the quiet winter.
Time to start spring with wild Helleborus, Hyacinths and Tulips
It is still a bit grey outside but spring is in the air, the weather is mild and wet and the wild Helleborus Foetidus are blooming everywhere around the castle.
I can’t wait for spring to come. So I made a corner of the kitchen in spring mood with all these nice pink and white hyacinths and tulips. Now there is a fresh green perfumed scent in the house. It looks like a nice flowerbed and it is just like having a bit of the garden in here.