There is a debate among expats who live in Italy. Is it better to live in town or in the country? In town you have access to restaurants and shops but you also have the downside of chaotic traffic and incessant noise until the small hours. In the country you have the idyllic landscape and views shaped by thousands of years of uninterrupted cultivation but access can be difficult along poorly maintained 'strada bianca'.For us the deciding issue was summer heat - out in the country on top of a hill we have the benefit of breezes and fresh air whereas summer in town can be insufferable.
We seem hopefully to have found a workable balance between town and country.For day to day convenience the house is situated a mile from a small village ( admittedly down a dirt road ) with shops, a bar and a restaurant. Further afield there is a village of about 500 inhabitants with a baker, pizza restaurant, newsagent and butcher. Some ten miles away are the small towns of Montefalco and Bevagna. We were going to Bevagna for dinner last night but the weather, with low cloud and driving rain, was just too awful. Instead we went there this morning for coffee and a cornetto. The town is built on the site of a Roman staging post and many of the church and municipal buildings from the middle ages recycle older Roman material in their structures - within Europe Italy has an unparalleled sense of continuity.
If anyone is planning a trip to Umbria they should consider dinner in a really good restaurant in town called Redibis . This is built inside the terraces of the Roman stadium and a bridge links it to a private garden which used to be the floor of the amphitheatre - taken together the location is quite magical and remains largely undiscovered. Redibis is one of the more expensive eateries in the area but has an comprehensive winelist and is cheap by London or New York standards. Even with the recent sharp fall in the value of sterling we still think that in terms of dining out it is cheaper living in Italy than in the UK. Families here still go out together for dinner as a matter of course and the inflationary impact of business entertaining has yet to hit this part of Italy.It is quite normal to see people come in for a single course of pasta or meat without being bound by the northern concept of three courses.