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.
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.
Classic spaghetti pasta with tuna sauce recipe. Very easy.
150 g Italian tuna packed in extra virgin olive oil, 1 onion, finely chopped, 3 Tbsp oil, 300 gr stewed tomatoes, salt, pepper, dried red pepper, 500 gr spaghetti pasta
Now we consider ourselves an authority on porchetta. Or the ancient culinary culture of crispy pig skin, or pork scratchings, if you like.
Many believe that the town of Ariccia in the Roman hills is the Italian capital of porchetta, but there are many other places either side of the Apennines where the preparation of roasted pig is a passion. The Monti Sibillini in the province of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche comes to mind, as does Campli in Abruzzo.
Following its launch in 2009, Porchettiamo aims to be the Festival of Italian Porchetta. It is held in Gualdo Cattaneo in central Umbria in the town of San Terenziano every May. This is the zone of Sagrantino wine and Dop Umbria dei Colli Martani extra virgin olive oil.
Perugia is perhaps best known for the annual events of Eurochocolate and Umbria Jazz (see below) held respectively in October and July.
With the city airport now connected to the low cost flight hubs, there is no excuse to not find out more about the regional capital of Umbria.
Tthe unique atmosphere of the city is owed to the stunning medieval centre that has been left to us from the 13th and 14th centuries when Perugia was at the height of its power.
Originally, an Etruscan settlement not unlike Orvieto, we suggest you start your discovery of Perugia by passing under the intact Etruscan arch (Arco Etrusco), still the principal gateway to the main pedestrian area, although all the old city wall entrances have their own story and fascination.
It can be quite confusing finding this particular entrance having parked your car, but as long as you are walking uphill, you'll get there eventually.
Before exploring the many narrow alleyways hiding typical Umbrian restaurants and shops, place yourself in Piazza IV Novembre and take in the magnificence of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo above (an Etruscan well marks the entrance), the Maggiore Fountain (note the reliefs from Aesops Fables and the medieval trades in our photo below) and Palazzo dei Priori (13th century home of the National Gallery of Umbria and the main image on this page).
The Cathedral has an interesting religious relic. It's the wedding ring of Mary and Joseph. It arrived in Chiusi in the year 989 having been purchased by the wife of the Marquis of Tuscany on a shopping trip in Rome looking for gems.
It seems the ring has special powers. So much so that when it was stolen in 1473, the thief lost his way in the fog of the Valdichiana and ended up in Perugia. The relic is still heavily guarded and goes on show on one day a year, the 30 July.
For the equally impressive view of the valley 500 meters below, walk along Corso Vannucci to Rocca Paolina.
Perugia is also university town and the local population has long been accustomed to the presence of visitors from other countries.
The University for Foreigners for Italian Language Studies is the oldest and most prestigious institute of its kind in Italy.
The city is only one and a half hours drive from Rome and Florence and five hours from Milan.
Since 1973 Umbria Jazz has been a vibrant, world-famous jazz fest which has attracted some of the biggest names in jazz for to the center of the most beautiful countryside that Italy has to offer. Perugia is a medieval city with a cosmopolitan feel thanks mainly to its large student population, including those who attend the university for foreigners. During the festival, the population doubles in size from 150,000 inhabitants, as an equivalent number of visitors flock to witness the city's metamorphosis into an Italian-style New Orleans. Over the ten days, some 150 concerts are hosted in the town, half of them free. The concerts run from mid-day to midnight nonstop and the city snaps to the beat of international jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett and many, many others (including many unknown but virtuoso musicians from all over the world). An Umbria Jazz Winter event also takes place in December in Orvieto. Dan Hostetler
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.
For us, Gubbio is very much the iron fist inside Umbria's velvet glove. If you like suits of armour, maces and two handed swords, then this is the place for you.
Old Iguvium sits looking down the wide valley and ever since the Eugubini created their '7 bronze tables' in the 300BC, depicting life at the time, the town has retained an architectural and cultural style.
The tables were found in 1444 in the area where the original Umbrian population lived and where the historical center is now located.
Interestingly, the Romans preferred the open land of the valley. Look out or the well preserved ampitheater and Mausoleum of Pomponio Grecino in the fields.
The Valnerina towards the Monti Sibillini in Le Marche is one of the Appennine's most beautiful valleys in Umbria.
Still covered in thick forests the zone touches 2500 metres in altitude.
The narrow, harsh upper areas are dotted with castles, bridges, forts and monasteries and was a tough track for travellers until very recently.
In fact, if you find yourself in Ferentillo (below) just outside Terni in January with the whole valley before you and your destination seemingly blocked by the snowy peaks of the Monti Sibillini, you might think twice before setting off.