Italy, out of season...isn't that a bit risky? Nah, late spring and early summer is Umbria at its best- when the countryside's at its greenest and dotted with oxeye daisies.You can cycle comfortably for hours through medieval hill towns and vineyards, stopping for wine-tasting over lunch without risking heatstroke. View PDF article OK, but is it cheaper? You'll save a fortune avoiding high summer. Flights to Perugia or Rome can be picked up for less than the price of a Zara dress, and Umbria has the accommodation of dreams for half the price of August Sounds amazing. What can I get up to out of season? Head for San Gemini, a small, sleepy hamlet just south of Todi, and explore its fairy-tale maze of ancient alleys, arches and gates before climbing the stone stairway up to the huge municipal pool and making a splash with the locals.Stay to eat the finest (and cheapest!) pizza of your life alfresco at tables around the pool in the evening (everybody else does).If you want to learn to cook, Lorena has a super-stylish apartment just off the piazza and will spend an afternoon teaching you how to hand-roll gnocchi, layer an aubergine parmigiana and concoct the perfect espresso panna cotta.You'll sit down to eat what you've made in impossible quantities and toast this woman's culinary genius. Work it off with a walk through wild flowers on the hillsides.Climbing endless stairs in the unmissable mediaeval towns of Todi and Spoleto works, too. And where should I stay? Casa del Poggio in San Gemini, and live Ia dolce vita under its high-beamed ceilings.For a dinner party without the faff of shopping, cooking or clearing up, Daniela, you r private chef, will see candlelit, four-course feast as the sun sets over the Abbey of San Nicolo. Your garden gate opens onto ancient stairs that lead down to the piazza, where the entire town, young and old, sits out each evening. Join in with gelato and laugh about the poor fools who only come in August. Get there Tuscany Now & More offers Casa del Poggio from £1,364 per week for four people, self-catering, including a cleaner; Tuscanynowandmore.com. Private chefs, cookery classes, bike tours, wine tasting and other services available on request.