Novelist Patrizia Chen's Tour of Todi, Italy
Stay: I send out-of-town guests to the Relais Todini (Frazione Collevalenza $$), a 14th-century manor. The view from the swimming pool stretches for miles. Equally pastoral: Tenuta di Canonica (75 Località Canonica $$), in a former watchtower.
Shop: Daniele Parasecolo (1 Via S. Maria) is one of Todi’s last remaining traditional wood inlayers—his panels are as intricate as paintings. You’ll find elegant coral and cameos at Arte del Corallo (11 Corso Cavour; 39-075/894-4473). Nearby, Marco Cianini (39 Via Giacomo Matteotti; 39-349/505-2195) makes exquisite handmade shoes. Don’t ask him to copy your old pair—he needs to create!
Eat: When hunger interferes with my shopping, I head to La Cantina del Mercataccio (1 Via del Mercato Vecchio; 39-338/246-2587) for a plate of strigoli al tartufo, pasta with fresh tomato, guanciale, and black truffles. At gelateria Bar Pianegiani (40 Corso Camillo Benso Cavour), I order one scoop of fig and walnut and another of chocolate, with plenty of whipped cream.
Do: A quick drive north of town, 513-year-old majolica ceramics company U. Grazia (181 Via Tiberina, Deruta) holds three-day painting and glazing courses. What’s better than a few pampered days in Todi, learning one of the most ancient Italian arts, then realizing you can take it with you?