Archive for August, 2010

Umbrian Countryside

Umbria is beautiful. It is mountainous, agricultural, rolling, flat. It has an incredible variety. It is one of only 4 Italian provinces that is land locked. The other 3 are nestled against the Alps. It is referred to as the “green heart” of Italy.

This spring, as we took a few days to travel around a small part of the south-central part of Umbria, we reveled in the beauty. Spring brings new crops, poppies, budding arbors, clear air.

If you have a bit of the farmer in you, there is something about the lushness of spring crops that creates a thrill.

Neat fields with towns in the distance. Umbria has its share of suburbia, but more often, town ends and country begins with an almost visible line.

I love the vertical posts leading to the vertical rows of trees!

One of the nice things about having a car is the invitation that little roads offer. We’ve taken little roads not knowing where they led and found one of the best restaurants and vineyards we’ve ever been to, and some very inviting  agritourismos.

The mountains and valley make a nice backdrop for the silver of the olive trees.

And the poppies make a nice foreground!

Gnarled old, old grape vines, trimmed who knows how many times sprouting new growth, promising delectable wines in the fall.

And the vineyards leading down to Lake Corbara as we headed for Orvieto and the end of our few days in central Umbria. A beautiful place both in its nature and the towns made by man.

Read Full Post »

Here is another medieval town, perched on a hill, more easily defensible than Bevagna. It has a delightful square and at least one very good restaurant.

Dove mangia bene“, we ask the natives – Where do you eat well? We were told by one woman who owns a beautiful textile store (Montefalco makes great textiles and wine), that all the restaurants are good. Very diplomatic, but then she mentions one by name. We take the hint and find Coccorone a bit off the beaten path. Kristi has stragozzie, the local pasta, with an arugula pesto and pecorino dolce – young, soft sheep cheese. I had pasta with a ragu sauce. Both absolutely wonderful. We followed our “primi” – first course, with the contorni course – vegetables. Kristi had baked artichokes (in season) which was scrumptious. And I had a wonderfully light arugula and radiccio salad. Our first lunch in Italy this spring is a taste feast!

After lunch we wander empty streets as everyone has gone in. It is not called a siesta in Italy, but it is the same thing. When we are in the town where our hotel is located we join the locals for nap time. Since we were here by car, it was a time to explore.

I love the way things aren’t square. While square is handy when you are building things, it is rather, well, square!

Like so many of her Umbrian neighbors, Montefalco has been on a cleaning spree. Even the narrow alleys had buildings whose facades had been cleaned.

One of the things I find so appealing about hill towns is looking down a street and seeing open countryside beyond. It is a wonderful connection to nature that grounds us.

Umbria has a beautiful countryside, subject of the next blog.

Read Full Post »

Wow! It has been a month since I posted! Two weeks in England, lots of company, and getting ready for our fall trips all have prevented me from getting back here.

Now where was I? Oh yes, looking at some of the towns we visited in May. Trevi is one of the several towns we visited from our Bevagna base. During this several days of rain and sun, Trevi came to us in the sunshine. It is a picturesque town from a distance, perched, as so many towns are, on a hill.

At the time of our visit there was a great deal of renovation work going on. Entire streets were buried under scaffolding with the sky nowhere in sight. Like many of the towns we visited, there is a major effort underway to clean buildings. The result is some absolutely sparkling architecture.

I was captivated by this recently cleaned church. Trevi is home to some seriously old medieval buildings. I love seeing the way they cantilevered the upper floors out to gain some additional upper story floor space suspended over the streets.

Then there is the modern and how it is accommodated – not that this is a particularly new car!

There are always pleasant surprises when you travel at a slower pace, unconcerned about seeing everything. We would never have spotted this lovely mosaic someone had done in front of their house had we been intent on taking in all the “grand” sites.

Trevi is home to a nice little museum that has interesting displays and interpretation of wine and olive oil making, among other things. It was a nice surprise. We enjoyed our visit and the sun that came along with it!

Read Full Post »