The geographical centre of Italy is Narni near Terni and perhaps the best way to visit the region is when one of the many annual gastronomic appointments are taking place.
The town of Torgiano still preserves its typical medieval appearance and the remains of its ancient walls.
The symbol of the town can be seen from all around and is the Torre di Guardia built in 1274 and the only remaining structure of the ancient defences as they once were.
Do visit the Church of S.Maria nel Castello and that of Madonna dell'Olivello for its treasured paintings from the 1500's and 1600's.
The fortified part of the town is situated between the middle of the Tiber valley and that of the Umbrian valley. In fact, it overlooks the confluence of the Rivers Chiascio and Tevere or Tiber and the original name 'turris amnium' refers to this.
Here, the cultivation of the vine is a very old art as is evidenced by the testimonial of archeologicals finds, and by a sketch dating back to the 14th century.
The cheese and olive oils from Todi and the surrounding area complement each other perfectly. Whether the best olive oil comes from Umbria, Tuscany, Liguria or other, is open to debate, but its the combination of the locally produced flavors which is what the intelligent visitor should really look out for.
Unlike Lake Bracciano and Lake Bolsena in north Lazio, the third and largest of Italy's great central lakes, Lake Trasimeno, is not of volcanic origin. Perhaps for this reason the depth of the water never surpasses six meters. Yet, it is huge, some 128 square kilometers and surrounded by soft valleys and sweeter hills where vineyards alternate with sunflower fields and olive trees.
The Associazione “Strada del Sagrantino" or 'Sagrantino Wine Route' sent us a 16 page analysis of this fine wine from Umbria to coincide with annual 'Settimana Enologica'. It would take too long to mention everything here, but these few nuggets of information caught our eye.
The DOCG mark can only be awarded when the Sagrantino grapes have been cultivated in the Comune di Montefalco and parts of the Comuni of Bevagna, Gualdo Cattaneo, Castel Ritaldi and Giano dell’Umbria. The best recent Sagrantino wine years for quality have been 1985, 1990 and 1998. Don't touch the 1992.
The National Truffle Market takes place every year at the Centro Fieristico Borgosole near Fabro during the last two weeks of November. It is organised by the mountain communities of the Valtopina, Monte Peglia e Selva di Meana and Monte Subasio near Assisi. It's not just truffles, but also an enogastronomic presentation of rarely seen local cheeses, selected cured hams, fine olive oils and Umbrian sweets.
Italian style soup recipe with farro, the 'wheat of the Roman Legions'. A slight variant of this dish (pictured) we ate deep in the Monte Subiaso near Assisi.
500 gr 'farro' (hard wheat that has been ground by hand), 1 glass extra virgin olive oil, 1 carrot diced, 1 rib celery diced, 1 onion, diced, 100 gr lean slice prosciutto, 1/2 glass tomato sauce, 5 leaves sage, rosemary, garlic.
Fair of the Dead
The historical and traditional market fair which takes place in early November
The " Fair of the dead" dates back to medieval Perugia : There are written references of the Fair since 1260 - even then defined as " customary " - and his name was then " All Saints Fair " , being located in the period of such religious festival .
The Fiera di Perugia was part of a rich calendar of trade fairs and merchant in Umbria , in the Middle Ages and Renaissance , despite the region suffered the endemic lack of relevant connecting roads and maritime outlets . These fairs possessed the main function of commercialization of agricultural products and livestock is no accident that took place during the summer and autumn , and for the wide availability of agricultural crops that allow the local population to the "supply" of the difficulties before winter .
The fairs enjoyed special exemptions such as the exemption of the sold goods , namely, exemption from any duty or tax , and the peace of the fair, that is, the freedom to trade for anyone, even for those who had trouble with the law for civil cases . Fair also meant great event for the city that housed it , due to the remarkable durability of these events (monthly, fortnightly ), which led to a large influx of people who stayed there .
The Exhibition of All Saints of the games were held in Perugia ancient tradition of hunting the bull, and the travel of the race of the prize or quintana . The testimonials on games are mostly up to the sixteenth century , and over time these traditions have become more rare and eventually disappear altogether. Documentation most recent (nineteenth century) indicate the presence of raffles in the square and circus activities . In recent decades, it has replaced the traditional games the presence of the amusement park , the so-called " sideshows " that are so extensive and significant in the fair.
Only from '600 Saints Fair will be referred to as " the deceased " , while 800 will take its present name of " Fair of the dead ." The significance of this choice seems to express the desire to make compatible the memory and ritual reunion with the ancestors with the need to mitigate the feeling of sadness still present in the memory of absence. The collective ritual of the festival includes even the custom of eating sweets called " stinchetti ", " bones of the dead ", " beans of the dead" , as if in search of a "communion " secular and festive with the dead .
Today , the Fair of the dead is still a tradition deeply felt by the population, it is unlikely that a Perugia does not make at least one visit to the fair and not buy something . The Fair is thus a symbolic ritual of belonging to the community , which is repeated regularly every year , and that seems to mark the cycles of life in the collective imagination , of which the seasonal cycle - the transition from summer to winter - has always factor of identity with the land and its customs.
The symbolic function and aggregation town surpasses well as economic , giving full meaning to a business that , in economic terms , it could certainly compete with the malls or supermarkets.
The progressive increase of quality of the products , more and more oriented to propose typical products, rare and locally sourced , promotes the current Fair also died in the neighboring towns , from where there are a good number . In this sense , the event has now acquired its tourist importance also becoming part of the calendar of large, traditional events of the city attractions.
The Museo del Tulle 'Anita Bellischi Grifoni' is located in the small town of Panicale near Lake Trasimeno in Umbria.
This museum is dedicated to the art of lace making, but in particular to Anita Bellischi who was born in the town in 1889 and became famous for her craft.
It is an interesting story which began when Anita lost her mother at a young age.
Deruta, the town of ceramics, owes its origins as a centre for ceramic production to the easy availability of 'argil' or clay from the surrounding hills and the alluvial deposits of River Tiber.
The first documents mentioning the 'land of earthenware close to territory of Torgiano' date from 1296, but it seems brick, tile and terracotta production stretches back to ancient times.
What initially helped the industry grow was the closeness of the river favouring commerce and barter, as well as the exchange of artistic and technical expertise.