A Traveler’s Guide to the Green Heart of Italy → Umbria
Italy has a green heart and this beating ♥ is Umbria.
Let’s get right to it → Which is the best season to visit Umbria?
Fall. No doubt: fall. Why? Because it’s not hot or cold yet. But also because in November crushers open their doors to visitors.
And really it is so lovely! The new oil tastings, the visits to the Open Crushers, and all the bruschetta to eat.
→ The gastronomy event Crusher Open is the absolute protagonist of the Umbrian November. This month is dedicated to the olive harvest and the extra virgin oil production, the most popular typical product of the Assisi‘s area and one of the most characteristic of Umbria. Read more about it here.
→ Bruschetta is toasted bread slices, rubbed with garlic, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Coming from Rome, we drove by car. My tip is to avoid the turnpike. In fact, why squander — let’s take the great road heritage left by the Romans. And then, let’s drive our car along Flaminia. Which is the consular road that linked Rome to Rimini — see map below.
Sinuous, supple, and straight with curves. And even crossovers placid villages, generously ready to teach tourists the balance of rest and pleasure of the slow pace. Then, when we arrive in Umbria, the main roads act as a ring road –lapping almost all of Umbria’s towns.
Our destination is Assisi. And our temporary home → is Residence La Corte, in the center of the small town, not far from the Basilica of Santa Chiara. The structure is shrewdly and we like it immediately. We are welcomed by their patronne, the sweet Daniela. In a few moments we will feel as friends. Comfortable and beautiful rooms, pleasant times over breakfast with a roaring fire to facilitate conviviality.
→ Remember, we are temporary citizens and not tourists in Assisi.
Our dinner is in Trevi. In its historic center, we dine at the Taverna del Sette. Where Chef-owner Gherardo and his wife take good care of their guests.
→ Two excellent first dishes: Cappelletti Truffle of Norcia and Rigatoni with red onion of Cannara stuffed, bacon, tomatoes and salted ricotta cheese.
→ In the glasses, precious discovery: the Bocca di Rosa by Tabarrini, winery of Montefalco. What a beautiful light that cherry color. Great wine!
→ As second: Parmigiana with Black Celery of Trevi. Black Celery of Trevi is a typical local celery.
→ Then, sublime meat, excellent sweets. A memorable dinner, in few words.
Let’s visit the first open crusher. Its name is Le Vecchie Macine, near the Beviglie Castle, in hamlet of Assisi called Tordibetto. Olive trees everywhere, with peace and serenity. Giacomo Vescovi, assisted by his wife, makes the extravergine olive oil.
→ The name of the main olive is Moraiolo. And Giacomo makes blends of Moraiolo with Frantoio and Leccino. Let’s use this new olive oil to enjoy the true typical local soups to eat in the colder months.
In Assisi we dine in a very charming location: Locanda del Cardinale. Which is in the historic center of Assisi, in the Piazza Vescovado, where it‘s been said that Saint Francis took off in front of the father of his worldly goods.
On the ground floor lays its elegant restaurant. Glass is used throughout — to allow the entrancing view of a Roman patrician residence of the first century BC. With perfectly preserved mosaic floors. And on the first floor, in the sixteenth century, are charming and sophisticated banqueting halls.
In a few words → a vertical sedimentation of about two thousand years.
With well-spaced tables and comfortable seats — this place is elegantly furnished and accompanies outstanding service! In the kitchen, the clever Enea Barbanera dominates. Born in Umbria, he’s also a professor of Italian cuisine at the prestigious Culinary Institute of Chicago. Wittily against the sad tale of the zero kilometer, he knows how to get the best from near and distant latitudes.
The fresh fish comes from the Tuscan Tyrrhenian coast. While the cheese is from Puglia. Enea welcomes us with fish Lampuga and smoked burrata from Andria (Puglia) .
→ And with Franciacorta by Tenuta La Montina in the glasses — it is easily understood that this is an unforgettable dinner.
→ Afterwards, a sumptuous risotto with pumpkin, and an excellent Fassone meat.
→ In the glasses we find Tabarrini with his Adarmando, another pleasant discovery: grapes Trebbiano Spoleto.
In his past years, Enea has also mastered the arts of being a pâtissier at Scaturchio. Which is among the best Neapolitan pastry shops in Italy.
→ And here, in a poignant combination, Vermouth Mancino, virtually unobtainable.
Another crusher to visit is in Campello sul Clitunno. We are at Frantoio Marfuga, Francesco Gradassi is the owner and the top manager of this crusher…
Of extraordinary goodness is their monocultivar moraiolo, called Affiorante. It’s pleasant with strong characteristics, and notes of artichoke and bitter almond serenade the taste. The property also includes a comfortable farm for agritourism. Which means it’s open to guests and visitors for hands on experience.
I’ll end with my recommendations and forms of contact below ↓
- RESIDENZA LA CORTE — Via del Pozzo della Mensa, 27 — 06081 Assisi (Pg) — Tel. 347 6882596
- TAVERNA DEL SETTE — Vicolo del Sette, 8 — 06039 Trevi (Pg) — Tel. 0742 780741
- FRANTOIO LE VECCHIE MACINE — Località Beviglie — 06081 Tordibetto d’Assisi (Pg) — Tel. 075 8019538
- LA LOCANDA DEL CARDINALE — Piazza del Vescovado, 8 — 06081 Assisi (Pg) — Tel. 075 815245 — Chiuso il martedì
- FRANTOIO MARFUGA — Viale Firenze — 06039 Campello sul Clitunno (Pg) — Tel. 0743 521338
— Vincenzo D’Antonio