The Umbria region of Italy
In Italian this is 'agnello allo zafferano', an easy and delicious recipe any time of the year. The zone of Spoleto actually produces saffron so look to buy a small pot or packet there to make the authentic dish.
a joint of lamb, olive oil, saffron, white wine, broth, salt and pepper
The Spoleto Festival is officially called the Festival dei Due Mondi or 'Two Worlds'.
It was founded in 1958 by the late Gian Carlo Mennotti because it was originally twinned with an identical festival held in Charleston, South Carolina.
It still has the objective of encouraging cultural exchanges through art and music and has, by all accounts, been recently relaunched after a new administration took over from Mennotti's son, Francis.
Today, the whole organization is a charitable foundation (Fondazione Festival Dei Due Mondi Spoleto O.N.L.U.S.) with Carla Fendi as Honorary President.
On an international level, this festival is one of the most prestigious events of the year and takes place in this stunning hilltop castled city which is located in the heart of Italy's most magical countryside of Umbria.
The Cantico Wine Route or 'Strada dei Vini del Cantico' is a spectacular itinerary taking the traveller past medieval hamlets, castles, abbeys, and churches in central Umbria. It could be described as a spiritual journey as the route was inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi following his ode to nature 'Cantico delle Creature' written in 1224.
Here wine and the culture of wine are at the center of human activity and history. An itinerary could start or finish in Torgiano before taking in Spello, Todi, Perugia, Bettona, Cannara and Assisi.
We were invited by the 'Strada dei Vini del Cantino' for a long weekend to discover the great wines of a zone between Perugia and Assisi.
As well as being well known for its DOC wines (Assisi, Colli Perugini, Torgiano, Colli Martani, Todi) and Torgiano Red DOCG, we were also to discover some of the best extra virign olive oil we had ever encountered, as well as precious art and masterpieces guarded in the palazzi, churches and museums along the way. Of the 12 municipalities which host the wine route, we followed an itinerary which stopped at Assisi, Spello, Bettona and Torgiano.
This best onions for this recipe come from the territory of the Valle Umbra and the Sibillini. More specifically the Comune of Cannara in the province of Perugia. The onions, or cipolla allium cepa, are harvested in July and August and then dried in the fields. Below this recipe, do read about the annual Onion Festival which takes place in Cannara in September.
50g butter, 2 spoons olive oil, 1kg finely chopped onions, 3 spoons flour, 2 liters meat stock.
Norcia and the Valnerina area are the most famous places for Umbrian prosciutto or ham production thanks to particular climatic conditions of their territories and to the skill of the local artisans. It is not by chance that the name norcino is used across Italy; Norcia's artisans have become the Italian ambassadors for a particular type of prosciutto, named salted or 'from the mountains'.
Besides needing the right amount of salt seasoning and pepper for preserving those parts not covered by skin, it also needs to be left to mature slowly in the light and dry mountain air. It is said that a good prosciutto needs to have at least 'experienced one Winter and one Summer'.