Good hotels in Umbria are not as plentiful as they are over in Tuscany. But the villas we rent are often better than some of the most luxurious five-star hotels in all Italy.

A private estate just outside Umbertide has been impeccably restored and the villas and farmhouses are of a quality unrivalled in Tuscany. Elsewhere, the enchanting town of Spello is home to a marvellous little villa and adjoining cottage that looks out over the Umbrian valley yet is accessed via a little cobbled lane, just off the main piazza. There is nowhere better for a taste of local life that thrives throughout the cold winter, unlike in some of the more touristy villages of Tuscany.