A Grand Tour in Italy’s green heart tainted by autumn hues, with the Jaguar F-Type

500 kilometres of unexplored beauty from Valnerina to the Mugello territories, along lonely roads meandering through woods, contemporary art collections and Apennine national parks with the English two-seater sports car

Our route between Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany caresses central Italy’s Appennini national parks, while transporting travellers towards an unmissable driving experience amidst arts, gastronomy and local culture from the green heart of Italy. For those commencing this Grand Tour in Rome, we recommend an early start to avoid traffic, and to enjoy the advent of dawn painting Renaissance palaces, baroque domes and the millennial ruins of a still dormant historic centre, with fantastic pink refractions that will immediately add further enchantment to the discoveries along the itinerary.

Umbria’s discreet charme

With her rapid stylish attitude, the Jaguar F-Type quickly gets rid of the A1 motorway where following Orte exit and after the Terni junction, the pleasure of commanding the steering wheel of Coventry’s sports car, promptly lights. The climb towards Spoleto offers sweeping turns and plenty of space to overtake and at arrival, te possibility of discovering a truly splendid medieval architecture dominated by Rocca Albornoziana. Once back on the "old" Flaminia, we let the green beating heart of Umbria unravel in front of our eyes for the first overnight stay af the tour, at Il Borgo della Marmotta Farm Resort near Poreta. 

Olive groves and papal estates

Surrounded by olive groves, part of the Consorzio di Poreta and adjacent to dreamlike Villa della Genga, Borgo della Marmotta is a refined complex of century old houses, located in a private park. Attractions nearby, range from evocative walks on Via Francigena to visiting magnificent medieval hmlets such as Trevi, Montefalco and Spello. Another option for those wishing to discover the lesser-known areas of the region, is to Fonti del Clitunno or drive towards lush Valnerina along the SS685; a beautiful road surmounted by imposing stone walls, flowing parallel to the Nera river.

Foliage driving

When painted by autumn, Valerina landscapes offer orange, yellow and ochre flashes of colours while the curvy “statale”, enhances the pleasure of rear-wheel driving delivered by the F-Type powered by a 2.0 engine providing 300bhp. The Jag’s total back dress, heightens the drama and during the drive, one can appreciate the sound of the four cilinder at every acceleration. Being the road far from wide and with a chewed, F-Type’s damping capabilities come out victorious and given the tense but not excessively rigid chassis, the model offers good GT capabilities. As we drive deeper towards the Appennini mountain ranges, surrounding landscapes acquire the charming atmospheres of distant lands removed from mass tourism.

A night at the Castle (of Postignano)

Borgo Cerreto signals the turn towards Sellano and Castello di Postignano; two destinations of historical heritage where the latter - following a restoration of over twenty years - is now one of the best preserved fortified villages, of the whole Valnerina. As the last stretch of asphalt immerses itself in ancient agricultural traditions from the area related to cheese, wine and oil, a thick morning fog envelopes the centuries-old walls of the triangular-shaped castle, which was founded between the IX and X centuries to protect inhabitants and aristocracy from Saracen invasions.  

A sustainable enterprise

With the years of abandonment and earthquakes behind, the architectural complex of Postignano has been expertly recovered by an expensive restoration work, financed by a Neapolitan entrepreneur. Comparable to an “albergo diffuso” and part of Alain Ducasse's Les Collectionneurs hospitality circuit, the hamlet now offers rooms, apartments for rent, artisanal shops and two restaurants (one of modern cuisine inspired by regional dishes; the second similar to an Italian omakase with a single table with aroud ten seats) curated by Vincenzo Guarino; Neapolitan chef who acquired a Michelin star in several occasions.

From Colfiorito to Gubbio

The next morning, the mist hides once again the Monti Sibillini National Park where in the first weeks of summer, the advice is to reach Castelluccio and admire the famous "fioritura" from lentils. Our tour though, proceeds in the Colfiorito direction along the SP459, which is scarcely used by other vehicle and is literally in the middle of woods, During higher paced changes of directions, the F-Type sport mode, sharpens all the car’s dynamic responses which given the itinerary, cab ne enjoyed all the way to Gubbio and especially during the drive from Colfiorito to gorgeous Nocera Umbra.

Sps & wellness in ancient Umbria

Erected on a classic medieval plan and associated with one of St. Francis miracles (the encounter with the wolf in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria) the precious town of Gubbio is also famous for having the largest Christmas tree in the world. The festive luminaria composed of 700 lights is set-up on Monte Ingino while in the spectacular historic center dotted with towers and protected by wall, Palazzo dei Consoli allows visitors to admire the precious Eugubine tables. As an overnight stay, Park Hotel ai Cappuccini blends ancient and contemporary arts, with one of the region’s most enjoyable spas and comfortable rooms, housed inside a thousand-year-old convent.

Maestro Burri and exploring Montefeltro

After spending the night in Gubbio and arriving in Città di Castello, it would be criminal not to visit Palazzo Albizzini Foundation and the former Seccatoi del Tabacco, with works and paintings by the “maestro” Alberto Burri. Of valuable artistic and historical interest, is also the Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari in the homonymous locality. The battle is significant, because it inspired a mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci specifically commissioned for the Salone dei Cinquecento, of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Following damage the art work was repainted by Giorgio Vasari.   

Mugello; a land of cypresses, mountains and tradition

After many twists and turns the autostrada connecting Arezzo with Firenze Sud is very welcome. Once in the outskirts of Tuscany’s capital, the F-Type is directed towards Fiesole aristocratic atmospheres (with a recommended dream night at Belmond Villa San Michele) where the elegant silhouette of the Jaguar, seems to be perfectly at ease. Equally idyllic is the frame of monumental cypresses that after Borgo San Lorenzo, manifests itself in all its splendor near Galliano. The scenarios between Passo della Futa and Scarperia are all worth the trip in this area of Toscana also because the quality of country and mountain roads, will be please even the most demanding gentleman driver. A similar consideration can be applied to Mugello’s gastronomy where - albeit for completely different reasons and culinary practices - excellent expression of traditional dishes can be found at rustic-chic Fattoria Il Palagio, and in the creative recipes at Virtuoso Gourmet restaurant led by Antonello Sardi; Florentine chef awarded with the star and green star by the Michelin Guide Italy.

To follow the footsteps of our writers, book one of our cars or request be-spoke travel experience in Italy, please write an email to info@thedriversclub.it

Matteo Morichini

My childhood memories are of arts, literature and visits of far away lands and now, I love writing about tourism, travel&motoring experiences as well as gastronomic cultures. Following the Degree in History & Politics and the Masters in International Relations at London School of Economics, I start my journalist career in 2004. Since then, I made it a point to visit all of the seven continents, while daily enhancing my passion and curiosity towards cuisine, charming hospitality and millenial traditions from the beautiful Italian territory


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