From its 16th-century stone façade, to its locally crafted leather and wood furnishings, Palazzo Seneca is a distinctively Umbrian affair, tricked out with a ravishing restaurant and spa. The understated masculine colour scheme is a sophisticated backdrop to the grand four-posters, antique armoires and the drawing room’s cavernous fireplace.The hotel can arrange cookery classes, wine tastings and horse riding nearby.
Wander into Norcia and admire the castellina, a fortress built in the 16th-century, the Gothic church of Sant’Agostino, and the main basilica, dedicated to St. Benedict. Pick up picnic supplies from the delis – cured ham, salty pecorino or mild cacciota cheese will stand you in good stead – and the bakery on the main drag sells moreish salt-encrusted rolls. Drive up the Piano Grande, famed for its Castelluccio lentils and summer carpets of wildflowers, and polish off your hamper in scenic surroundings. Count hang-gliders as you eat; the Mount Sibillini massif is a magnet for thrill seekers. If you start feeling envious, get your own adrenaline rush: pick from rafting, canyoning, paragliding, quad biking, cross-country skiing and Nordic walking.