A five-year search later, they followed the lead of an industrial archeologist to locate the 9000 square foot abandoned glassworks that became L’Antica Vetreria. Simpson reports that this huge glass works was the first in Piegaro, established in 1292. Its glass artisans were famous throughout Europe. Abandoned since 1943, the structure had good walls, if not many roof tiles. For 18 months the renovations proceeded. Every night they would receive photos from the architect they had enlisted to transform this decommissioned glass factory to a vacation home.
When Colleen Simpson and Tom Webb married in 1994, Colleen had some pretty firm ideas about where they should and shouldn’t honeymoon. Theirs was a later in life romance and second marriage for each. Colleen, a student of art history, had lived and studied in France at one point and knew enough about Italy to know she didn’t want to go on the paths well-worn by Rick Steves. Umbria enchanted them, and when the idea seized Tom and Colleen to live out the rest of their days in the country where they had honeymooned, Umbria was the top pick destination for their next chapter.
Colleen was able to make her way over first, taking on tasks like following a bobcat into crawlable holes in the buildings rubble to see what was within. For example, one such excavation discovered an ancient oven, which now is the centerpiece of one of that rental unit’s design and décor.
L’Antica Vetreria offers comfort
That so much work went into redesigning this space may not be so apparent without some narrative guide. Each of the five family suites overflow with antiques and locally made touches like the ironwork throughout made entirely by a local Piegaro blacksmith. It is first and foremost comfortable.
As it turns out, Colleen and Tom have near rock star status in the charming hamlet of Piegaro. Just a few weeks before their arrival a new mayor had been elected under a platform of bring tourism to the town. Timing was so perfect, the new mayor did everything he could to make sure there were no glitches, including finding ways to give them road access and land for a pool. YOU are exactly what the city fathers wanted, and that Simpson and Webb helped to deliver—a flow of tourist dollars into the pockets of the small shop owners.
Picturesque Piegaro does strike this writer/photographer team as being akin to Panicale and Castiglione del Lago—all inviting hamlets of Umbria that are great places to plant to explore both nearby Tuscany and Umbria.
The hamlet of Piegaro, pictured to the left and below, is where L'Antica Vetreria is located
Photos: Peter Kachergis, unless otherwise indicated