THE HOUSE: Our recently renovated stone house is located in the quiet hamlet of Morruzze in the rolling hills of Umbria. Surrounded by fields and chestnut forests, and with sweeping views of the valley below, Morruzze (population 30) is an ideal location for an Italian country escape in any season. Morruzze was founded by the Romans in the 12th century and the crumbling foundation of its first church, which dates from this period, can be seen nearby. The restored castle (Palazzo Paparini) also dates from the 12th century and the current church dates from the 17th century. For those looking for a peaceful environment, our house in Morruzze could not be more ideally located. In the Spring, Summer and Fall, take advantage of the garden and outdoor patio. Our grapevine-covered pergola is an ideal spot for al fresco dining. In the early Fall the vines are heavy with bunches of grapes ready to be eaten. During the cooler evenings, pour a glass of local Umbrian wine and sit around the outdoor stone fireplace, or move indoors to an equally cozy location in front of the living room's large stone fireplace. Two of the bedrooms overlook the garden and the large master bedroom overlooks the valley and the hamlet of Acqualoreto. There is a second fireplace in the kitchen. THE AREA: Morruzze is 20 minutes from Todi, 30 minutes from Orvieto and within an hour of Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto and Deruta, all must-see Umbrian cities. Within 15 minutes of Morruzze are numerous hilltop villages nestled in the hills surrounding Todi. The family run restaurants in these villages should not be missed. Southern Tuscany, including the wine towns of Montalcino and Montepulciano, are just over an hour away. ACTIVITIES: Though not as famous as their Tuscan neighbor, the wines of Umbria are making a name for themselves. There are several well known vineyards in the hills around Morruzze (Barberani, Falesco). In addition, Montefalco (50 minutes), Torgiano (35 minutes) and Orvieto (30 minutes) are home to the top vineyards in Umbria. The "Strada dell Olio" (Olive Oil Road) runs right by Morruzze and the local Umbrian stores give you a chance to sample and purchase some of the finest olive oil in Italy. There is a swimming pool and tennis courts at the "centro sportivo" outside Civitella del Lago (15 min), horseback riding near Lago di Corbara (20 min) and several soccer fields and playgrounds nearby.