High place of art and culture, Umbria unfolds its charming little medieval villages in a setting of olive groves, vineyards and fields. The ideal region to treat yourself to good meals made with local ingredients.
Pasta, prosciutto and legumes
Less known than Tuscany, Umbria deserves just as much attention and dining. This landlocked region in the center of the country owes its nickname of ” green lung of Italy to its dense forests and hills dotted with vines and olive trees as far as the eye can see. The hillsides between the towns of Assisi and Spoleto are the first of their kind to feature on FAO’s list of ‘Ingenious World Agricultural Heritage Systems’, which are similar to UNESCO’s Agricultural Heritage Landscapes . This terroir is also the cradle of many traditional dishes : homemade pasta, vegetable and legume soups, goat cheese, pork (prosciutto, sausage, salami) and truffles.
Umbria is also rich in wineries which produce excellent wines in perfect harmony with the local cuisine. L’olive oil extra virgin provides the essential finishing touch to most dishes, from soups to pasta, meat and vegetables.
Trevi for its exceptional olive oil
In the village of Trevi, a museum tells the story and the important role of olives in the local culture. Outside its walls stands an olive tree reputed to be the oldest in Umbria at 1,700 years old. Unmissable event at the end of autumn: the open days organized every weekend in November in the olive oil mills (frantoio) and accompanied by walks, tastings and various activities. The visit to a working frantoio is an experience that awakens the senses: smell through the scent of fresh oil, hearing with the noise of machinery and the chatter of farmers waiting for their harvest to be pressed, the sight amazed at the green crisp from the freshly pressed oil, and the taste in the peppery flavor enhanced by the toast in the fireplace.
Narni for its unique wines
The pretty hamlet of Narni, which overlooks a spectacular gorge, is already worth a detour to explore a series of underground rooms including a medieval chapel and a tribunal used during the Inquisition, spaces that fell into oblivion until they were discovered by teenagers forty years ago. The stroll below the surface also leads to a roman aqueduct.
Around Narni, the vines are planted with Ciliegiolo, a grape variety renowned for its typical fruity aromas of fresh red cherries. It often enters into the composition of blends or perfumed wines to be drunk young like Ciliegiolo di Narni IGTan intense ruby-colored juice that delivers very fruity aromas, a fresh taste and a certain lightness.
Culinary specialties of the “borghi” of Umbria
Lake Trasimeno for its fish dishes
The superb Lake Trasimeno is surrounded by picturesque villages or borghi ” in Italian. The cycle path that circles it attracts cycling enthusiasts of all levels. It is strongly recommended to stop in a trattoria with a view of the lake to taste dishes inspired by the catch of the day such as the porchetta style queen carp or the traditional tegamaccioa fish soup that takes its name from the earthenware pot (tegame) in which it is prepared.
Another specialty: brustico, a whole fish roasted over charcoal, then filleted and garnished with local olive oil and lemon. Perch can be eaten fried or incorporated into a pasta sauce. To accompany these good little dishes, nothing like a good wine from the appellation. DOC Colli del Trasimeno, which offers four whites, five reds and a classic Spumante.
Montone for its truffles and Perugia for its chocolate
Montoneone of the most beautiful borghi” from Italy, stands on a wooded hill north of Perugia. His film festival attracts crowds in the summer, while the fall celebrates local harvests and products: chestnuts, mushrooms, truffles, cheeses, wines and more. Craftsmen demonstrate their traditional skills in embroidery, wrought iron, inlaid wood and ceramics. In addition to markets and tastings, visitors can enjoy guided tours, walks in the forest on foot and on horseback, photo exhibitions and musical performances. Perugia, the capital of Umbria, is famous for the chocolate, to which it devotes a school and a museum, as well as the Eurochocolate festival, which is held in October and brings together conferences, various activities, culinary demonstrations, not to mention the unmissable tastings. The ideal place for chocolate addicts!
This article was produced in close collaboration with ENIT.
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