Friday, March 12, 2010

Foodie fun in Umbria

Location: Umbria | Topic: Food & Drink, Travel
Words by Germaine Stafford

Ten tasty ideas on how to get the best from Italy’s ‘Green Heart’.

1. Seek sophisticated sanctuary

If relaxing in the discreet luxury of a converted 12th Century monastery and taking part in truffle hunts, cooking lessons and visits to local food markets is your idea of fun, then Lilliana and John Tunstill’s beautiful guest house, La Preghiera, is definitely the answer to your prayers.

2. Whet your appetite
Christine Smallwood’s excellent book An Appetite for Umbria is an absolute must for any gourmet planning to visit the region. A winning combination of prose, food info and local recipes, this book will treat you to a true taste of Umbria.

3. Be a Bongustaio
After soaking up the beauty of Assisi’s Basilica di San Francesco, make your way to the Gambacorta family’s specialty food shop, Bottega del Bongustaio, and stock up on farro and lentils, pecorino and other local specialties. Or visit their website and have them sent to your door! Via San Gabriele, 17 (

4. Dish for Compliments
Lavishly decorated, colourful Deruta pottery has to be one of the most spectacular ways to show off your cooking and give your home an Italian touch. The Grazia family has an excellent collection and deliver all over the world.

5. Make a cake of yourself
Right in Perugia’s historic centre sits the beautiful Caffé Sandri with its fabulous vaulted ceiling – just the place to throw back a thimbleful of excellent espresso and allow yourself to be tempted by an irresistible array of homemade pastries. Corso Vannucci, 32

6. Get thee to Gubbio
Once you’ve wandered round this medieval marvel of a town, seek respite at La Fornace di Mastro Giorgio. When in season, enjoy a menu studded with Umbria’s exceptional truffles and a good bottle of red chosen from the ample wine list. Via Mastro Giorgio, 2 in Gubbio.

7. Go for gold
Umbria produces some exquisite olive oils and what better way to find them than to follow a Strada del’Olio? Stop off at local producers’, sample their offerings and treat yourself to some of Italy’s best loved ‘liquid gold’. (

8. Lunch by a Lake
Head for Lago Trasimeno and enjoy a spot of windsurfing or go for a good swim. As you dry off, lie back and enjoy a picnic of prized prosciutto from Norcia, some pecorino with truffles and a cleverly-stashed bottle of Montefalco Sagrentino. (

9. Have an Art Attack
Treat yourself to a fabulous painting holiday in Umbria with H&G Italy, and while you’re slaving over a hot canvas, Eddy and Sheila de Vries will be busy planning evening meals, wine tastings and trips to nearby food markets. No starving artists here methinks...