Perugia via Rome
The Trip Is Pretty Long
because there is a change of plane in Rome, where I – in fact we have – almost missed our connection as we were taken by our chat (no comment, lol!). It’s always a pleasure to return to Italy and speaking Italian again!
On the above photo montage, 1. the eternal city, Rome viewed from the sky and 2. first impressions of Umbria, whose capital is Perugia. I am very curious, this is my first time in this region of the center of Italy!
A Walk In Spello
Getting Lost And Wander
Few time to freshen up and then we arrive in Spello. From the ramparts of the medieval town, great views of the Umbrian plain dotted with cypress trees. Light breeze, night falls softly. Languidly strolling in flowery empty narrow streets and discovering a Roman triumphal arch …
Each year between May and June for the Flower Festival of Corpus Christi (Infiorante), Spello streets turn into a huge carpet of flowers and sacred art paintings made of flower petals are used as decorations. Spello is then renamed “Flower Capital”.
We stop for dinner at Locanda del Postiglione, a restaurant of local specialties with gargantuan proportions! From the second course, I couldn’t eat more. On the menu: chicken liver accompanied by toasts with olive oil, gnocchi with red wine and gorgonzola sauce, Umbria meats, guanciale (crispy bacon) with green salad and balsamic, porchetta (pork). Not to forget the dessert!
Truffle Hunting in Norcia
The next day, early morning departure to Norcia and truffle hunting! I am so excited, like a child who goes hunting for treasure! Umbria is the largest provider of truffles in Italy. The truffle, both tuber and trace grows underground in symbiosis with trees (without being a parasite).
There are 7 types of truffles: 5 black and 2 white. The most famous and tasty are: the winter black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), the price varies between € 400-600 per kilo. And the white winter truffle (Tuber magnatum Pico. Depending on the rarity and size, its price is between €2,000-6,000 per kilo.
Nicola Berardi is a truffle hunter (photo montage above). He proudly shows me his official permit issued by the municipality (photo below). A deep complicity links Nicola to his dogs, Nina (the brown hair dean) and Lulu (the fiery youngster with black hair).
As we move ahead on a small dirt road, Nicola explains that from the age of three months, any hunting dog can be trained to hunt truffles. And female dogs are better than male dogs. This is a game for the dogs that are rewarded when they find a truffle. It’s also a way to prevent them from eating.
Lulu repeatedly sinks in coppices, digs and returns victorious, a truffle stuck between her teeth. Unlike pigs, dogs learn to bring back truffles to the master and their bite doesn’t damage the truffle. The best places to find truffles are around the trees (mostly oaks), abandoned vineyards and riverbanks.
Truffle Dinner in Norcia
The downpour stopped our inland truffle hunting. Back to Norcia, where I discovered my vast room in the elegant Palazzo Seneca before dinner (photo montage below, 3. the entrance of the Palazzo Seneca).
Norcia is a quiet charming little town of about 5,000 inhabitants which takes its name from Nortia (Latin: Nursia), the Etruscan goddess of time, fate, destiny and chance. First colony founded by the Sabines in the fifth century BC, Norcia was conquered by the Romans in the third century BC (and then had 60,000 inhabitants), followed by the Goths and the Lombards in the sixth century who integrated the city in the Spoleto Ducat (Ducato Longobardo di Spoleto). After a period of decline, Norcia became one of five regions of the Papal States.
Photo montage above: 1 and 6. on the main square, Piazza San Benedetto, the statue of Benedict of Nursia, San Benedetto, the “inventor” of monastic life and founder of the Benedictine order who was born in Norcia at fifth century.
2 et 4. The black truffle and prosciutto are specialties of Norcia. Very good dinner with fresh truffles at the Ristorante Granaro del Monte, with Vincenzo Bianconi, one of the owners of the restaurant and Palazzo Seneca.
Photos : © Mademoiselle Le K – Tous droits réservés
Many thanks for this beautiful invitation to Regione Umbria et Alitalia. Thanks to Nicola Berardi and Vincenzo Bianconi too. As always these opinions are my own.