In March 2014, Oldways enjoyed a weeklong culinary and cultural journey through the beautiful Italian region of Umbria. Known as the green heart of Italy, Umbria is the only region in Italy that doesn’t border either water or another country. From our base in Umbria’s capital city Perugia, an historic hilltop city known for chocolate and its maze of medieval streets, we fanned out on country day trips to discover the food, wines, artisanal products, art, and ceramics that make the region so special. We learned from producers and artisans; sampled local specialty wines and ingredients; enjoyed meals in country trattorias, farmhouses, and palaces, as well as city restaurants during six days and seven nights of discovering the elegant and rustic charms of Umbria.
Itinerary at a Glance
Sunday, March 16: Benvenuto Umbria!
Check-in at the Hotel Brufani Palace, our home base for the week’s stay in Umbria. This ﬁve-star hotel, with a hilltop perch in the heart of the historical center of Perugia features beautiful views of the surrounding Umbrian countryside.
We started oﬀ our week in Umbria with a welcome session, wine tasting and dinner featuring some of the specialties of this region.
Monday, March 17: Truﬄe Day
After breakfast we headed to the hills over Trevi, to hunt for the famed Umbrian black truﬄes—walking through the woods with trained dogs and their keepers—to see how these precious tubers are found.
Cooking demonstration and lunch at Tenuta di San Pietro a Pettine to learn how to make umbricelli, a local ﬂour and water pasta, as well as see how the truﬄes are made into a sauce. Then, for lunch we sat down to a truﬄe feast!
A free afternoon in Perugia, followed by dinner at Osteria a Priori in Perugia, enjoying some of the local specialties, including many ingredients recognized by Slow Food.
Tuesday, March 18: Orvieto!
After breakfast we drove south, towards Orvieto and Lake Corbara.
In the morning we visited a goat farm for a tasting of the organic goat cheeses that are made at the farm. We also sampled some of the well-known white wine from this area.
Continuing on, we traveled to the hilltop town of Orvieto. Our guide shared the history of this town, and then led us on a detailed visit of one of the most spectacular sites in Umbria: the Duomo of Orvieto.
After some free time for walking or shopping, we lunched at Trattoria La Palomba in Orvieto. A free evening in Perugia aﬀorded us the opportunity to try one of Perugia’s many ﬁne restaurants.
Wednesday, March 19: Todi and Deruta
Todi was called an example of “the most livable town in the world.” We visited this charming medieval hill town with Elisa Pichiotti, a guide who told us all about the history of Todi and the surrounding area. Our tour embraced the main churches, including San Fortunato and the Duomo, as well as the Tempieto, which was designed by Bramante.
After a lunch of traditional Tuderte cuisine at Ristorante Umbria in Todi, we made the short drive to Deruta, one of the most famed centers for the ancient art of Majolica, a type of ceramic decoration that was developed in the 15th century. We visited the museum, where ancient works are on display, as well as one of the oldest workshops in town.
We all dined together in Perugia at Civico, a more modern take on Umbrian cuisine.
Thursday, March 20: Chocolate, Curing and Castles
Leaving the hotel in the morning, we stopped for breakfast at a very unique farm, Zaferano e Dintorni. There, we learned about and tasted local heirloom fruits, as well as saﬀron and traditional medicinal herbs, which are still grown here.
At the medieval town of Norcia, a tour guide told us about the history of this ancient town. The people of Norcia are famous for their skill at curing meats. So skilled, that today most salumeria in Italy are simply called Norcineria. We visited one of the oldest workshops in town, and had a guided tasting of some of their specialties.
Our lunch took place in Palazzo Seneca, a Renaissance palace that has been converted into a hotel and restaurant. It included local specialties, including lentils from Castelluccio, lamb from a nearby farm and homemade pasta dressed with local truﬄes.
Before returning to Perugia, we visited a chocolate factory in Norcia, where we also had a chocolate tasting.
Our evening was free — time to try another of Perugia’s restaurants.
Friday, March 21: Farm Day!
Friday began with a visit to a granarium, an ancient ﬂour mill, for a tour and tasting.
Next, we traveled to the historic winery of Scacciadiaovoli, where we visited the vineyards and winery to learn all about Umbria’s most important wine: Sagrantino.
Our next farm visit was a stop at a small-scale farm, Fattoria Angelucci, where we enjoyed a cooking demonstration, a cheese making demonstration and a simple lunch of products from the farm.
Our ﬁnal stop of the day was Bevagna, one of the most in tact medieval towns in Umbria. Six of the original guild workshops have been carefully restored to their original function, and we visited three: a candle maker, a paper maker, and an ancient apothecary. There was also time to wander around this small town to do a bit of shopping.
Saturday, March 22: Assisi & a Presto!
Our main stop on this ﬁnal day was a visit to the historic town of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis. Accompanied by Alessandra Mallozzi, a local guide, we took a tour of the most famous churches, including artwork masterpieces by Giotto, Cimabue, and other Renaissance masters.
Our lunch in Assisi was at the very simple local trattoria of La Stalla, where we savored local rustic specialties, sitting at long wooden tables to enjoy grilled sausages, torta al testa (an umbrian griddle bread) and home cured prosciutto.
Our farewell dinner was at Castello di Monterone, just outside of Perugia, — an imposing castle that has been transformed into a hotel and restaurant.
Sunday, March 23: Arrivederci!