Fattoria di Titignano

A castle hotel in a wooded between Orvieto and Todi in Umbria

Entombed in the Parco Fluviale del Tevere forest and forgotten by time, Titignano has three things going for it: ancient charm, amazing meals, and a near-perfect position 90 minutes north of Rome and smack between Southern Umbria’s twin highlights, Orvieto and Todi. Still, even visitors who have been here multiple times admit it often takes them several minutes to locate it on a map.

Titignano is tiny. The village’s population has never exceeded 400—not in 937 when the Montemarte counts first picked this spot above the Tiber River, nor in 1830 when the Corsini princes purchased the village at auction for the equivalent of $340, and certainly not since the middle of the 20th century, when the sharecropping system was abolished and it was transformed into a modern farm.

In fact, except for a few exterior lights (and the cars parked around back), Titignano looks pretty much as it has for more than 1,000 years: a wedge of medieval buildings enclosing an oblong triangle of cobblestones at the end of a cypress-lined drive.

Guest rooms at Titignano

The buildings are pigeonholed with 15 guest rooms and six apartments, all done in a contemporary country style with beamed ceilings, terracotta floors, wrought-iron bedsteads, and lumbering old armoires painted with rustic scenes.

On one side of the piazza is a pretty little church popular for weddings—which explains why there’s often rice and pasta stuck in the cracks between cobblestones—and on the other side is an imposing central keep housing the farm shop, reception desk, and, upstairs, the ancient main hall.

Dinner at Titignano

This hall is Titignano’s biggest draw, a massive medieval dining room with 20-foot ceilings and stone fireplaces roomy enough to roast an entire cow. People travel all the way from Rome just to indulge in one of Titignano’s seven-course, €15 lunch or dinner feasts.

Depending on the season, the seemingly endless parade of dishes might include wild boar salami, radicchio risotto, pappardelle with a pheasant ragù, or roasted spring lamb, plus all the wine you can drink from the estate’s own vineyards. The compelling reason to sleep over—aside from the fact that you can barely move after dinner—is Titignano’s dream location, well off the beaten path yet a short drive from first-class sightseeing.

The view from Titignano

The low wall on the piazza’s shortest side affords a 180-degree panorama over nearly all of Southern Umbria. The view sweeps past a swimming pool on the terrace below, across ranks of grapevines and 3,000 acres of woods and macchia (scrubland) to a landscape straight from a Renaissance painting.

To the east rises Todi, a medieval hill town with Etruscan roots that’s become something of a bedroom community for film directors and other moneyed Romans, its narrow stone streets jostling on the weekends with late-model Range Rovers and Mercedes SUVs. On the slope just below Todi is the dome of the church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, one of the world’s finest examples of High Renaissance architecture.

From Todi, the Tiber River snakes west past Titignano, around rolling hills patchworked with fields and forests and crowned by crumbling stone towers, before widening into a lake. Jutting proudly from the western horizon beyond the lake is Orvieto, one of the ancient Etruscans’ twelve capital cities and a Renaissance papal stronghold.

Before painting the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo journeyed to Orvieto to study the amazing Signorelli frescoes in the cathedral. As part of his payment for that job, Signorelli had demanded a daily supply of Orvieto Classico, still considered the finest white wine in all of Italy and available for tasting in shops throughout the town. The wines produced by Titignano and its sister farm across the lake are no slouches, either, and the farm offers free tastings.

Don’t be put off by the often brusque service and disinterested staff. The front office is happy to lend out mountain bikes and maps of the area’s 16 km of trails, or to arrange for a local guides to go canyoning nearby or lead explorations of the extensive caves on the property (6–8 people minimum; rates vary).

Tips & links


Castello di Titignano
Titignano (Orvieto), off the SS79 bis between Orvieto and Todi
tel. +39- 0763-308-000
Doubles from €90, or €120 with dinner.

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