“Don’t wait passively for cultural experiences. Reach out and make them happen.”
– Rick Steves


Chef Simona

A Rocca di Benano villa rental includes a family-style welcome dinner that Simona serves on the day a group checks into the villa. This fresh taste can just leave people wanting more, and many guests hire her to return later in the week, choosing from a completely different menu of regional specialties and classic dishes.

private chef in villa


Experience Small-Town Italy

Every year, many Italians leave their city homes and return to their family’s villages for a traditional festival or sagra. A sagra is a quaint, homey celebration of a town’s favored crop or dish. During sagra season (basically the warmer months), keen-eyed guests will spy posters in the small towns and villages that announce various sagras — gnocchi, asparagus, potatoes, pasta with wild boar sauce, chestnuts, truffles, olive oil, etc. A sagra visit is a very accessible way to experience small-town Italy at its best. On Rocca di Benano’s Pinterest site, under the “special events” boards, you’ll find a sample of the sagras in our area.


Make the most of special sites in the area

Our favorite tour guide, Emanuela, is a public school teacher who speaks perfect English. When she’s not in the classroom, she leads walking tours of the most special sites in our area. She takes groups on tours of sites all over our region, such as:

  • Orvieto, including its spectacular cathedral (Duomo), the ancient city’s vast warren of underground caves, its wells, a newly opened, thoroughly excavated labyrinth, and lots of shops featuring beautiful handmade items
  • The Renaissance gardens at Villa Lante, Palazzo Farnese, and Bomarzo
  • Off-the-beaten path gems like Civita di Bagnoregio, Narni (which has its own unique underground), Montefalco (which features Sagrantino wine), and Bevagna
  • Etruscan sites that dot the region


Experience Small-Town Italy

Our region is filled with places to buy wonderful homemade cheeses, especially those made with sheep’s milk, like fresh or aged Tuscan pecorino and ricotta, including one of our favorites, the salty ricotta salata. With a little advance planning, the proprietors will show you how their cheeses are made. Most will seal their cheese for you on the spot so that you can bring it home and get it through customs. We will gladly steer you to the best cheese shops and cheese-making tours in the area around Benano and, if you prefer, guides who can take you there.


Visit, tour, taste

It’s easy to include a stops at any number of beautiful wineries in Tuscany and Umbria. The highly acclaimed Palazzone Winery is just 10 minutes from Benano, and 10 minutes farther, you can visit Cantina Neri and get a gorgeous view of Benano. There are plenty of well-known wineries in Tuscany such as Banfi that welcome drop-ins. True wine connoisseurs will delight in finding lesser-known wineries and perhaps tasting new-to-them varieties. We can point you to guides who can help you pursue your particular interest.


Make the most of special sites in the area

Not far from Benano is a beautiful organic farm called Pulicaro that is owned and operated by our friends Marco and Chiara. They sell fresh produce raised without chemicals, farm fresh eggs, olive oil, fresh pasta, and artisanal soaps. Call ahead and they’ll be happy to put together a basket of seasonal fruits and vegetables for you. They also offer farm tours, and they might be able to arrange an unforgettable farm brunch for you.


Visit, tour, taste

We once asked a guest to name the highlight of his three-week stay at Rocca di Benano, and he answered, “Visiting Marino in his castle!” In Viceno, the next village over, at the town’s highest point, there’s a medieval castle that doubles as the studio of world renowned ceramic artist Marino Moretti. Marino is a wonderful host who welcomes Benano guests to his studio for a peek at his uniquely beautiful work, a glimpse at how he does it, and a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. We would happily put you in touch with Marino to make an appointment. If you miss the chance to visit his studio, at least stop by his ceramic store, which is located kitty-corner from the massive and unforgettable cathedral of Orvieto.


Learn authentic Italian culinary tricks and recipes

Guests often tell us the hands-on cooking class they took was the most memorable part of their stay at Rocca di Benano. Our favorite chef Simona offers group classes in her farmhouse about twenty minutes from Benano. The class begins in Simona’s garden, harvesting some of the ingredients comprising dishes on that day’s menu. What’s not to like about spending a morning up to your elbows in flour, rattling pots and pans to make traditional ragu sauce, and whipping the eggs whites for tiramisu, if at the end you get to eat the product? If Simona happens to be booked on the day you choose, we can recommend fantastic cooking classes in Orvieto as well.


If these ideas aren’t enough, hop over to the Rocca di Benano Pinterest site. You find boards on seasonal festivals, biking, restaurants and more. You’ll even find information about a fly fishing guide!


About the special activities

The meal we had catered in the villa was one of the best of the trip and we highly recommend doing this. We really enjoyed meeting with Marino at his “castle” and this was another great suggestion per Karen.

John M.,  – Portland, OR

The farm tour was fun and the eggplant parmigiana was some of the best we’ve ever had — such nice people. Simona’s cooking was so good the night we got there that we had her come back the last night for an encore. Isabella gave us an informative and interesting winery tour. But I have to save my highest praise for Emanuela. She’s extremely knowledgeable, personable, and accommodating. She even took the time to help us at the grocery store at the end of the day. She’s a gem!

Rick N., – Cincinnati, OH

Simona and Catarina (sagraincasa.com) coming to the house (twice it was so good!) and making a most memorable meal of five courses, explaining each course as presented. Simply fabulous.

Bob G., – Danville, CA

What really made things great were all the suggestions and guidance from Karen. She really wants guests to have a fantastic experience and goes above and beyond to ensure that you do. Without her insider tips and ideas, we would have missed out on some really lovely experiences. We have stayed at many homes and apartments using VRBO or HomeAway, and Karen has been by far the best.

Nathan L., – Phoenix, AR