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A Taste of Perugia and Umbria

Giuseppe & Elga Nuzzaci

Umbria, surrounded by verdant greenery, is the ideal place for finding peace and well-being. Its charming landscape seems to have remained untouched by modern progress and while visiting the old villages of the region, one has the feeling of going backward in time: walking on an Etruscan path, traversing over a roman building or entering a medieval church is a matchless experience that a tourist will carry with him forever.

Perugia, the capital city, is particularly rich in old monuments, buildings, museums and sites of historical interest but at the same time it is the perfect location to visit all Umbria, because it is situated at the exact center of the region. This wonderful city is also a perfect location for shopping-lovers thanks to its high quality shops, factory outlets and ancient workshops. Also local markets, which are organized every day of the week around the city, are a beautiful destination to find particular objects and even antiques for collectors.

Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia Umbria

Palazzo dei Priori (the palace of priors), Perugia

To carry home a very special souvenir, a few kilometers away there are stores to buy hand-thrown pottery and majolica ceramics, textiles, embroideries, wrought iron, cashmere, wine, olive-oil and the famous chocolate, products which have made our region famous all over the world. In our region handcraft is art. An art handed down from one generation to another, preserving old traditions dating back to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Artisans use techniques remained unchanged in time as in the pottery of Deruta, inspired by works of Umbrian painters like Perugino or Pinturicchio, in the majolica of Gubbio, a high level handcraft exported and appreciated abroad, in the cloths, whose drawings are inspired by French and oriental tradition and in much more.

An example is the famous weaving brand Sposini, which uses in its cloths, realized in the loom and in fine linen and cotton, the patterns of old Umbrian culture such as the griffin, the eagle or the peacock. Also the production of cashmere has an important tradition in Umbria, Lamberto Losani, Chimar and Brunello Cucinelli offer very high quality products of knitwear.

Cookery is a craft of no less importance and gastronomic products are exported with great success. In our green region one of the most common plants is the olive tree from which one extracts a tasty olive oil. Furthermore Umbria is the only region to have obtained the trademark "DOP" for the olive-oil production.

Yet our landscape lends itself to a fine wine output, in Torgiano, few kilometers from Perugia, there is a museum dedicated to the art of making wine and in Umbria we have "streets of the wine", meaning four itineraries which pass through old villages and country paths, where four different high quality wines are created. Some of the best wines, also considering the relation between quality and price, are:

  • Rubesco, produced in the Lungarotti winery
  • Rosso di Montefalco branded "Terra de’ Trinci"
  • Montefalco Scacciadiavoli
  • Montefalco Colpetrone
  • Montefalco Adanti Montefalco Ruggeri

and of course the tasty Sagrantino di Montefalco and the Sagrantino Scacciadiavoli, that have obtained the trademark DOCG.

To drink a high grade wine, one of the best cellars is certainly Paolo Bea. Their constant attention to quality, taste and naturalness reflects in organic wines, both red and white, with no preservatives, chemical products and created according to natural winemaking methods.

Particularly important in Umbria is the tradition of chocolate, in Perugia there is also a museum entirely dedicated to that just inside the famous Perugina factory. This of great interest for chocolate lovers from all over the world and brought to fruition the creation of a school which trains "maîtres chocolatiers", an institution dedicated to those who want learn all the secrets of making chocolate.

If you love to eat sweets more than cook, then another destination must be the well-known pastry shop Sandri, situated in Corso Vannucci, the main street of the historical centre. In the heart of the old Perugia this patisserie, born in 1860, displays every day sweet sculptures in chocolate and sugar realized by pastry-chef masters who celebrate with their works of art every event of the city. Almost every day there are tourists ready to immortalize with their cameras these masterpieces and every day the pastry shop is full of local people who stop there for a quality break.

Finally, the knowledge of a country also passes through the knowledge of its culinary culture. Here it is a selection of the best restaurants, pizzerias and typical trattorias in Umbria and Perugia. If you are seeking a high level meal in Perugia, visit La Taverna, where the creations of the chef, Claudio Brugalossi, are delicacies, using ingredients such as truffles, Trasimeno lake fish and homemade bread and pasta. Instead, if you are interested not only in the meal but also in the location, Ferrari is the right choice: this restaurant during spring and summer, serve its clients directly on Corso Vannucci, the main street of the historical center and it is the only location where it is possible to have a real meal any time. Lastly, in Perugia do not forget to have a dinner at Il Cantinone, a lovely restaurant – pizzeria with delicious cuisine located in the heart of the center in a fantastic, medieval building.

If you want to feel like a real local and taste the typical dishes of Perugia's cuisine stop by the trattoria Dal mi' Cocco, where, with an extraordinarily cheap fixed menu, you can try the special Torta al Testo, homemade pasta, bread and cakes, fowl dishes and much more. For a culinary tour around Umbria do not miss the Porta Venere restaurant just in the center of Spello, whose specialty is meat, cooked in many different ways. In Gubbio make a stop in the Grotta dell'Angelo restaurant remarkable also for the good value between quality and price. Though, if you are seeking a high level meal, your choice must be the Taverna del Lupo. Finally if you are a hiker and you are exploring the mountains around Umbria, include in your itinerary a stop in Preci at the restaurant Il Castoro and you will taste the Umbrian truffle in some of the best local dishes.

Majour Fountain, Perugia

Majour Fountain, Perugia

Giuseppe & Elga are the owners/operators of Villa Nuba luxury apartments (a SlowTrav Favorite), the only property chosen by the prestigious "Umbria Villa Owners Association" (www.umbriavillaowners.com) as "the most charming place to stay in Perugia" in the year 2012. Guests staying at Villa Nuba not only have the opportunity of sojourning in the countryside while only fifteen minutes on foot from the historical centre of Perugia, but they also receive the Villa Nuba Gold Card, a special badge that guarantees them great discounts and special care in some of the most prestigious shops, trattoria, restaurants and factory outlets. You can see Villa Nuba's SlowTrav listing here.

© Giuseppe & Elga Nuzzaci, 2013

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