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((8))These Are Some of my Favorite Things((8)) - iamq and M in Umbria

((8))These Are Some of my Favorite Things((8)) - iamq and M in Umbria

Jul 8th, 2011, 02:21 PM
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I sort of planned this trip around food, restaurants and eating. It was going to be about the truffles, the pig, the olive oil, the pecorino, the fresh hand made pasta, the proscuitto and the salami. It was.

The Great Spello Restaurant Irony

We never ate one restaurant meal in Spello! I still can't believe it.

One of the reasons I picked Spello as our base is that there seemed to be plenty of places to eat and some very good ones at that. Having dinners out after a day of touring the countryside would be a big part of our experience. I had all the candidates lined up and kept researching and looking for good places in town. The plan was in place.

Plan the plan, not the outcome.

Lunch became the meal of the day. While out and about each day, we always had a very long and satisfying lunch and sometime during the day might pick up food items to be eaten at home. By the time we got home, we were still filled up from lunch. Dinner usually ended up being a tossed green salad and a platter of cheeses, meats, fruits, vegetables and bread soaked in olive oil enjoyed on our porch as the sun set. It was fabulous and became our evening ritual.

In Spello, we got to know three very important people. A baker, a butcher and the gelato lady.

Most mornings I would walk down to the Forno Artigiano early (by 7:30) and pick up tortas, cornettos or other things, bring them back to the apartment and enjoy them with our espresso. The woman who ran the place got to recognize me after a day or two and we soon got friendly. She'd throw in an extra roll or give me something I hadn't paid for. Her bakery was a busy place and was usually sold out by 10 am.

Maria Theresa is the butcher in the shop near Bar Tullia where we always had our gelato. This woman made her own porchetta and her own salami. She also sliced a mean prosciutto. Her salami was the best salami I have ever tasted! It was unlike anything called salami that I have ever had. We shopped here several times. She always was amazed that we bought as much as we did. She'd want to slice us two slices of porchetta and we'd tell her to do six. She'd want to slice us four slices of her salami and I'd say otto. We'd always wave to her as we'd walk by on our way home each day. There were a ton of salumerias in town. Her's was not the largest or the fanciest, but I am convinced she served the best meat and cheese in town. During the Infiorata, there was a line of at least 100 people out her door waiting for a torta sul testo or a porchetta sandwich.

Bar Tullia was the local hangout for caffe, drinks, snacks and gelato. Gelato here twice a day was not uncommon. The woman who ran the place was a gorgeous, curvaceous, good spirited person who was always chatting up the customers. She ended up really liking M and giving him special treatment whenever he came in. Our last night she gave us big hugs and kisses and lots of "ciao, ciaos." Very sweet.

Where we ate...

La Palomba in Orvieto.

Our first meal in Italy was a memorable one. This place is mentioned often on chowhound and is a slowfood member or whatever you call them. The place is lively and friendly and the service was excellent. We had a late lunch. The food was simple and delicious. We started with an assortment of bruschetta and a platter of prosciutto. We both had umbricelli with shaved truffles for our primi. They shave the truffles onto to the pasta right at the table. Secondi was wild boar in a spicy tomato sauce for me and grilled sausages for M. We were in heaven. This was what we came to Italy for! Dui caffe and dui bottles of fizzy water. The bill was euro 57,50.

Antica Hostaria De La Valle in Todi.

Truth be told, eating here was the primary reason we stopped at Todi on our way from Ovieto to Spello. I had heard such good things about this place, I knew we'd have to stop. A word or two of cauton: Come hungry as the courses are large. We ordered three courses each and for the first time since I've known him M could not finish what was on his plate. Don't be in a hurry either. We needed to be in Spello by 4 pm so we had to sort of rush out on the secondi course. Next time it will be an appetizer and a primi only per favore.

We started by sharing an antipasti platter that was a work of art. Little bread sticks stuck out of a pot of melted cheese in the center. That was surrounded by an amazing selection of brushetta, meats, cheeses and fruit and the most amazing olives in the world. Primi for me were ravioli filled with ricotta served in a truffle cream sauce. This was one of the best dishes I have ever had...anywhere. M's primi was strangozzi with truffles. Amazing. It was more refined and the flavors a bit more subtle than the truffle dish the day before. Secondi for me was pig filets in a gorgonzola cream sauce. What was I thinking? Two cream sauces? M had a veal filet sliced thinly in a juniper berry sauce that was unreal. We were full, full, full. This is a restaurant not to miss. The owner is Scotch. The place was full of Italians and British ex-pats. Two bottles of water. The bill was euro 69,00.

Dinner that night was gelato and a Tums.

more later...
iamq is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 02:38 PM
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Try this one instead for the food photos.

iamq is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 02:39 PM
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Loving your trip report so far. Thanks for all the tips on your research. Can't wait to hear more.

I hate the car upgrade situation because usually there is a reason for the car you pick. It happens to me most often in Hawaii. My last trip, both Honolulu and Hilo didn't have what I requested or anything close. When I got to Maui, I told the people there that they were the only island that ever had the car I needed. That made their day.
paula1470 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 03:28 PM
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I am also enjoying your report!


I can relate- I usually enjoy my big meals at lunch and then a lighter meal/snack of local products for dinner accompanied by a local wine, a beautiful sunset and the patio view.
zoecat is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 03:34 PM
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More food...

One of the things we wanted to do on this trip was to taste and purchase Umbrian oilve oil. I posted something about that here and on slowtrav. Both inquiries led me to some great oil and good food.

Genius Loci Country Inn

Letizia on slowtrav suggested I look up Mary Tacconi of Genius Loci as they produce their own very fine olive oil in small batches and have it for sale. I did and we eventually ended up booking a "gourmet tasting" of local foods along with their oil and wine. We don't drink alcohol, so we booked it without the wine. However, that evening there was another couple who joined us and did sample their wines. This gourmet tasting is obviously designed to showcase their wines, but Mary did a fine job of showcasing the oil as well. The evening started off with a tour of the winery. Then we were seated inside an old wine vat (see photos) for the tasting. It was a bit strange at first, but it ended up being lots of fun. Mary put together a platter of wonderful cheeses, salamis, bruschetti and pates that were delicious. She focused on local things. There was a 30 month old aged pecorino from a cheese shop in Bevagna that so creamy and smooth...almost sweet. I have never had an aged cheese like that! My favorite thing on that plate was the honey with truffle. OMG! The honey comes from an old beekeeper in Trevi and I have never tasted anything like it before. Dipping the pecorino in it was heaven. Dipping anything in it was delicious. Mary's husband makes his own capacollo. That was good. We snacked and ate while Mary talked about the wines, food and life in Umbria. It was a pretty special and unique evening. We loved the olive oil and bought some. We also bought one of her last two jars of the truffle honey. Not a cheap evening...with oil and honey euro 125,00.

Enoteca L'Alchimista in Montefalco.

Wonderful and highly recommended. It was a lovely day in Montefalco and eating here in the piazza was a lot of fun. M started with a mixed bruschetta that he devoured. I had a farro salad with tomatoes, thinly sliced zuccini, ripe black olives and arugula. It was light and refreshing. M's primi was strangozzi with fresh porcini. The porcini were sublime and the pasta was perfectly cooked. I had the gnocchi in Sargrantino wine sauce. It was fantastic. The sauce was slightly puckery, but nice. The gnoochi were tender. For secondi M had the filet of beef in Sargrantino sauce and I had a salad. The beef was amazing. Two bottles of fizzy water and dui caffe. The bill was euro 52,50.

Taverna Castelluccio

We ate here on our way from Norica to Visso via the Piano Grande. It was very good and I am glad we ate here instead of in Norcia. The mountain setting alone makes it a worthwhile stop. I had their "famous" lentil soup, which was good, M had the gnocchi made with wild grasses served with a tomato sauce with mutton. This was the clear winner of the day. I had tagliatelle Norcina, which was tagliatelle in a cream sauce with sausage and porcini. It was good, but the pasta was bit too al dente for me. M finished with the Trota al Tartufo. Fresh Nera river trout smothered in truffles. I normally can't eat trout, but this was so mild I even ate some of it. Very good. Water and caffe. euro 46,10

iamq is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 04:05 PM
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You really deserve a special award for reporting so very quickly, that's incredibly nice and much appreciated! I'm sorry that you didn't obviously love Taverna Castelluccio (and what I'm calling this planet's best lentil soup) as much as I do, but at least you were satisfied.
franco is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 05:04 PM
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Oh franco! I have you to thank for talking us into having lunch there in the first place! It would have been a shame to have missed that. Next time you are there have the gnocchi with mutton. They mix mountain grasses in with the dough. Delicious.
iamq is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 06:12 PM
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Enoteca Astorre - Faenza

Having lunch in Emilia Romagna was a nice change of pace. The food is very different here. This place was recommended to us by the Vignoli Sisters, the potters we had come here to visit. It is located in the piazza right across from the Duomo. The food was excellent. My primi was an antipasto platter with meats from the region. The prosciutto was excellent and I could have done with a whole tray of the mortadella. M had an interesting and tasty salad of potatoes, green beans and medallions of octopus tentacles It was delicious. Primi for me was cuzci (spelling is wrong, but the pasta were fresh wide egg noodles) tossed with braised red onion and guanciale. Besides the ravioli at Antica Hostaria in Todi, this pasta was my favorite. So simple. M had gnocchietta in a very subtle pesto. Very good. This was one of our best meals of the trip and made me want to come to this region for more eating. Two fizzy waters. euro 41,50

Trattoria Degli Umbri - Assisi

Another excellent lunch! It is right in the thick of things in Assisi. We ordered mostly from their daily specials and were rewarded by doing so. M was the clear winner with his appetizer. Bruschetta drenched in olive oil and piled high with the most succulent and delicious guanciale ever tasted seasoned with just a touch of balsamic vinegar. Brilliant. I am afraid I will have to return someday just to taste this guanciale! Even the artisinal stuff made here cannot compare. I had a trio of torta sul testo that we very good. One was prosciutto, one was spinach with melted pecorino and the other was salami (I think). M's primi was strangozzi with truffles. It was exceptional. I had the special which was a rotolo of turkey wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a very smooth mixture of sausage. Again, this is food prepared in such a way that one hardly ever sees here. The taste was fantastic. Two bottles of fizzy water and dui caffe. euro 44,00

Osteria Del Podesta - Bevagna

Authentic and well prepared Umbrian delights. We had lunch here after visiting Frantoio Nunzi. I really loved the food here. M started with an tartufo fritatta. He loves eggs, so this was a special treat for him. My primo was strangozzi with porcini. The porcini were fragrant and delicious. For secondi, M had pork sutffed with pork sausage and I had rabbit done porchetta style. M was not entirely happy with the pork. It was a bit dry. My rabbit was succulent and the skin was crispy. You could have poured the sauce in a glass and drank it. It was that good. Two bottles of fizzy water and dui caffe. euro 48,00

Taverna del Lupo - Gubbio

After having read so much about this place, I felt like we had to eat here. Well, eat we did. We each a full-on tasting menu. There is no way I can go on about each course as there was so much food. It is an exceptional restaurant, but it is a bit overpriced and hung up on itself. The two dishes that really blew our socks off was my faraona and M's desert. Service was a little gestapo-like, not the down-home friendly style we had gotten used to by the more modest places. M's lunch was euro 60,00. Mine was euro 56,00 total bill was 129,00.

Well, that's it for restuarants, but there's more food coming!
iamq is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 06:38 PM
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What a great trip report! I'm loving the detailed restaurant/food descriptions. Thank you, iamb, for taking the time for this - it's going in my future-trip-to-Umbria file.
hazel1 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 07:05 PM
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>>>>There was a 30 month old aged pecorino from a cheese shop in Bevagna that so creamy and smooth...almost sweet. I have never had an aged cheese like that! My favorite thing on that plate was the honey with truffle. OMG! The honey comes from an old beekeeper in Trevi and I have never tasted anything like it before. Dipping the pecorino in it was heaven.<<<<

Next trip, you must go to Pienza which is known for pecorino. So many different ones to taste. Bruschetta (toasted with olive oil) with a melted percorino, sprinkled with pine nuts and drizzled with honey. Yum!

>>>Here is our prosciutto di Norcia that we smuggled home.<<<

Waiting for the details.
kybourbon is online now  
Jul 8th, 2011, 08:24 PM
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Loving the TR (and your pics!), Iamq!

Franco, we've been bugging him for his TR mercilessly.

Dying to know if you enjoyed Orvieto.
annw is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 08:35 PM
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Mouthwatering photos, thanks!
Leely2 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2011, 09:46 PM
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My mouth was watering over your food descriptions, and then I looked at the photos. Oh, my! It looks incredible! Umbria is on my "next time" list. And when you mentioned the pecorino dipped in honey, I could really taste it! We were given some at a winery near Montalcino last month and DH is still raving about it!
elnap29 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 03:44 AM
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i've got indigestion just reading it all.

i'll have to ration myself to one meal a day, i think.
annhig is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 04:39 AM
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Loving this report!!! The food sounds and looks amazing!!
jamikins is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 05:19 AM
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Away this weekend. Back with more on Sunday.

The food was truly amazing. Not fancy, but just wonderful flavors and so simple. We were not disappointed.

Loved Orvieto.
iamq is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 05:47 AM
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zoecat, I forgot to mention you when I was thanking people on the boards for the help. Your advice on the Taverna Castelluccio and Norcia was particularly helpful. I'd love to get back to the Sibillini National Park someday and do some of those longer hikes. Thanks again.
iamq is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 08:09 AM
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Keep it coming!
TDudette is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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Great report & pics; thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to the rest.
esm is offline  
Jul 9th, 2011, 10:01 AM
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you're killing me with the food pictures! it all looks amazing.
txtree is offline  

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