Tag Archives: Umbria

What’s New In Umbria? (Part One)

I am Simone Proietti Pesci, the chef of the restaurant and when you come to visit me in Bevagna you can taste the real Umbrian cuisine.

Le Delizie del Borgo is my restaurant in Bevagna inside the park, Filippo Silvestri.

The park is a special place to eat. We have table outside under the shadow of the trees and beautiful light during the evening. Some of our favorite dishes right now are handmade pasta with local fresh truffles, porcini mushroom salad and pasta with fava beans.

We have planted a garden in the backyard of the restaurant.  We have aromatic herbs and all the veggies come from our garden.

We are available for  cooking classes and private dinners in the restaurant and also at Bill and Suzy’s farmhouse, la Fattoria del Gelso, where you can celebrate your weddings and special events.  This summer we are hosting our first wedding at their farmhouse (can’t wait to share the photos with you!)

During the summer we have music in the park.  July 7th we have a concert and dinner, July 22nd a Jazz trio with dinner and the end of August Lola Swing will be playing.

Come party with us in the park.

Simone

Umbrian Spice Rub Recipe

Umbria is famous for its Norcinos – butchers – creating cuts to be grilled, roasted and cured. This Father’s Day our Norcino shares his in-house seasoning blend inspired by the flavors of Norcia. The fragrant and summery flavors of wild fennel and citrus provide a piquant and unexpected twist to a classic summer BBQ.

UMBRIAN SPICE RUB
INGREDIENTS

1 lb Sicilian fleur de sel

1 oz fennel pollen

2 oz coarse black pepper

2 oz muscovado sugar

2 oz dried orange zest

 

 

     DIRECTIONS

-Mix together blend ingredients and store in an air-tight container. Makes 1 1/2 lbs.

To use: rub steak, chicken, etc. with extra-virgin olive oil. Rub 1 oz. of seasoning per every 1 lb of meat and allow to marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Grill, roast, smoke, sous vide or cook however you like.

Note: this blend is also great on roasted olives tossed in good olive oil.

 

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Umbria is famous for its Norcinos - butchers - creating cuts to be grilled, roasted and cured. This Father’s Day our Norcino ...

Happy Father’s Day

Dad, Padre, Father, Papà, Babbo. Whatever you call him, he is that unique figure in your life who holds a special place in your heart: a father. Father’s Day, means something different to each and every one of us, and we’ve asked our staff to share some of their favorite memories with you!

Reflections from our Team:

Lindsey: “Best (and worst) thing my father ever thought me: if something isn’t funny the first time it definitely will be by the tenth.”

Rae: “My Dad is my Best friend!”

Antonio: “Mi Papá ha sido un gran maestra de la vida.”

Justin: “Mio padre è il mio idolo e voglio ancora diventare come lui.”

J’han: “He always had a story to make you laugh.”

Tammy: My Dad can make me laugh as much now as when I was little.”

Ron: “My Dad was the kindest person that I’ve ever met and I still want to grow up to be like him!”

Patrick: “My Dad eats like a horse, sings like a bird and drinks like a fish.”

Deyon: “ I am so happy to be both a Father and a Grandfather!”

Chris: “My Dad never turned down a chance to go outside to play”

Zach: “Without my Dad, I wouldn’t be as ready to take on the world”

Meg: “My Dad will do anything he can for his family”

Max: “My Dad would beat Chuck Norris up”

Julia: “My Dad is the life of any party”

Federico: “Mio padre sarà sempre il mio punto di rifermento”

Liam: “As a father myself..I hope to one day be as kind, strong and courageous as my father..I know no one is perfect, but in my eyes he sure was pretty damn close”

Rene: ”Es un buen tipo mi viejo”

Larry: “This is my first Father’s Day as a father and I am really looking forward to it!”

Scott: “My Dad taught me how to smoke [pork butt!]”

Lauren: “My Dad has always taught me the value in working hard and eating well.”

Suzy: “Growing up in Iowa, I thought the Presidential candidates went to everyone’s house for dinner.  Lorne’s passion for politics was addictive and is what brought me to DC. He was a great dad – I miss him every day.”

Bill:  “Everyone who ever encountered my dad, no matter how briefly, couldn’t help but know that he was an exceptional person.  Kind, friendly, caring and always engaging, he quietly set a very high bar for his four sons. One day, stopping by his summer mountain vacation home I found myself chatting for the first time with the couple who had cleaned his house for the past decade and at the end of our conversation the husband remarked to me, ‘you are exactly like your dad.’  No one has ever paid me higher compliment.

 

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Dad, Padre, Father, Papà, Babbo. Whatever you call him, he is that unique figure in your life who holds a special place ...

An Umbrian Valentine

Banner-San-ValentinoOur Umbrian Valentine!  Valentine’s Day is taken very seriously here at Via Umbria, not only because of what it represents, but also because of the history behind the holiday. Not many people know that the true San Valentino hails from our beautiful Umbria. While not a lot is known about the historical figure in relation to his life, we know that he was born in Terni, Umbria which is about an hour away from our Fattoria Del Gelso in Cannara. St. Valentine was a pioneer of the Christian community in Terni and is considered the first Bishop of the area but was persecuted for his religious beleifs and was eventually executed by the Emperor in Rome. The relic of his skull rests in Rome at the church of Santa Maria (pictured below) while the rest of his body was taken back to be buried in Terni.
 

As the official ambassadors of Umbria here in Washington D.C., we have taken it upon ourselves to carry on San Valentino’s name and traditions.  We have been celebrating all month long and if you are still searching for something to pick up for that special someone in your life, come by the store and we will get you squared away. If it is the traditional chocolate gift that interests you, we have you covered with many creative and delicious chocolates. If you want to give a gift that is outside the (heart shaped) box, consider coming in for some of our cured meats, specialty cheeses, imported wines or even some of our amazing coffee.
 

If you can’t make it in to the store, check out our online shop for all your Via Umbria needs!
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Via Umbria!
sanvalentino

St. Valentine Read more

Our Umbrian Valentine!  Valentine's Day is taken very seriously here at Via Umbria, not only because of what it represents, but also ...

Food for Thought

Was it too much food? Absolutely. Do I regret eating any of it? Not one bite.

We are here with our Food & Wine Tour group to Discover, Savor and Share – to explore the foods and wines of Umbria.  It’s not possible to shape the experience without enjoying a few extra bites.  We have six full days to discover hundreds of years of traditions.  To enjoy a meal around the table – not standing at the bar eating a sandwich.  For Americans, relaxing over a meal can be a challenge.  To linger over two meals a day can be excruciating.

In the states we multi-task our way through a meal.  Sitting at our desk with a phone in one hand and a sandwich in the other.  Grabbing a bite to eat and a cup of coffee or a bottle of water every time we get into the car.  Italians enjoy a small coffee at the bar and if they want more they make an additional stop.  The idea of eating in the car is foreign.  Their cars are not littered with fast food wrappers.  Their children don’t eat foods that are non-spillable so that they can eat on the go.  When I’m in Italy it all makes sense.  When I’m back in the states I’m the one biting into an egg sandwich as I speed down I-95 at 70+ miles per hour – only to have the perfectly cooked yolk explode all over me and over the windshield.  So much for multitasking and freeing up my time.  Should have spent 15 minutes sitting down and relishing my breakfast instead of half an hour detailing the car.

We spend our week in Italy enjoying many meals together with new friends.  Our most over the top, I-can-never-eat-another-bite-again day is at Ristorante Perbacco with our friend Ernesto.  He has designed a 14 course tasting menu (sometimes more but never less) for us to cook together and to enjoy together.  Starting with a main course and working backwards to dessert the fun never ends.  We spend our day making dough that can be transformed into fried bread, baked bread or even pasta.  Making pasta dough and turning it into five different shapes, each needing a separate sauce to showcase it.  And most of all we relax and we laugh together.  We are creating so many different foods that we don’t need to worry about precision and as a result everything turns out perfectly.  So we pour a prosecco, take off our aprons and toast to another successful adventure together before we sit down and eat.

If I had to take out a few bites – where would I begin?  I would begin at home – never in Italy.

Finding the Right Balance in Italy Read more

Was it too much food? Absolutely. Do I regret eating any of it? Not one bite. We are here with our Food & ...

Anticipation

“Anticipation Is keepin’ me waitin’”

I love a surprise as much as anyone (especially if its diamonds) but sometimes the best part of something is the anticipation.   For our Fall Harvest tour in Umbria I love the planning, the packing, the reading and rereading of the itinerary.  Imagining the sights, sounds and smells we will be enjoying.  Anticipating the highs and the lows.  Preparing for all types of weather – does packing an umbrella really give you a better chance of clear skies?  Better not take the risk – throw it in.

Talk about anticipation – we have been talking with this week’s group for 4 years trying to get a date on the calendar for their Fall Food & Wine Tour.  Bill and I have been working around the clock with Marco and Chiara putting together a week that captures all of our fall favorites.  We work with each other to create a schedule that gives a full day with a little bit of flexibility to find new adventures along the way. Our challenge isn’t what to do – it’s how to do everything.  So many people to meet, foods to eat and wines to discover.

This week is a reunion for us.  Catching up with Italian friends who are now part of our family.  Sharing stories of weeks past and planning for more adventures ahead.  Every stop this week includes friends who have shared experiences with us right here but also outside of their hometown, outside of Italy.  So stay tuned for new stories with old friends.

And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days.

Please Don't Keep Me Waiting Read more

“Anticipation Is keepin' me waitin'” I love a surprise as much as anyone (especially if its diamonds) but sometimes the best part of ...

Hang It High!

Looking over the week’s itinerary I realize there is a glaring gap – no time to spend in Deruta.  How can this be?  It takes a little creative juggling and we add in a morning of painting at Geribi Studio without taking away from anything else. 

Bill has recently taken up yoga.  He really enjoys the peace and calm and the opportunity to escape and unwind. IMG_6072 He asks me to join him and I remind him that peace and calm aren’t really my thing.  Escaping and unwinding is difficult for me.  I’ve done yoga in the past but found myself constantly checking my watch, using the meditative time to freak out about things undone and worst of all falling asleep on the mat.  When it comes to escaping and unwinding – yoga for Bill and Gerardo’s studio for me.

This is where I can relax.  My hand is not steady, my eye is not creative – but I am not here for perfection I’m here to work with my hands.  To spend a couple of hours unwinding, escaping, living in the moment and watching a blank plate turn into my own creation.

IMG_6087Guests often panic when they sit down to paint.  The Ribigini family is so talented it is hard to imagine recreating anything close to what they do.  But of course this is a talent that comes from hours and hours, years and years of practice.

I’ve made the mistake before of looking at designs and thinking that they would be easy – but all the detail, the small thin lines – not as easy as they look.  Today I sit down confidently.  I have finally figured out the perfect balance of powdered color to water.  And that is a pretty major key to painting in Deruta.

I look at the graphite dotting the page and look at the hundreds of plates surrounding me and decide where I want to make my adjustments.  Of course I want to paint the peacock feather – but now I get to decide where I make straight lines and where I add scallops – where I add the pomegranate seeds or the round circles.  Sticking with the familiar but wanting to try something a little bit new.

When we first met Gerardo and Asunta 20 years ago we immediately fell in love with their designs.  IMG_6097The blues and yellows in their geometric designs and the beautiful green peacock feathers.  Over the years the designs have expanded – adding a beautiful lemon design with a dark blue background evolving into an array of fruits with backgrounds of  black and red and eventually lavender, burgundy and light blue.  When their daughter Claudia starting working in the studio she introduced a more modern twist – bold oranges and blues and soft pastels of pink and green and lavendar.  When I first saw the new colors – I was of a mind that these were not for me.  But my children fell in love with them immediately.  So a new color palate for a new generation.  Over the years the colors have grown on me.  And today I choose a pink for the first time.  Who says an old dog can’t learn a new trick?

IMG_6031And we spend the morning painting, laughing, scraping away mistakes easily with a small knife.  And we talk about what we are doing and how and where we are going to show case our pieces.  Most importantly we discuss what we will do if they aren’t perfect (a likely event).  And we leave Gerardo’s studio with our new life motto, “Hang it high or cover it with cheese.”

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Looking over the week’s itinerary I realize there is a glaring gap – no time to spend in Deruta.  How can this ...

Christmas is for Family

In Italy there is a saying, “Christmas is for family and Easter is for friends.” For the Menards it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. Everyday is Christmas and everyone is family.

Arriving to Perugia airport after a very uncomfortable (but friendly) RyanAir flight we were instantly on home ground. The sights, the sounds the smells – all very familiar and very comfortable. The beautiful, lush, green farmland, the birds singing overhead, the scent of spring mingling with freshly mowed grass.

It’s a short drive to the house and we are exhausted after a 4:30am wake up call. Peace and quiet and a comfortable bed are calling to us.

We pull up to the house and immediately Chiara pops out to welcome us home.IMG_1937

IMG_1177We unpack quickly and drive to Bevagna for our traditional welcome to Umbria lunch with Simone and Desiderio at le Delizie del Borgo. Spring has arrived – in the form of a bowl of tagliatelle with fresh artichokes.

After a long – much needed nap – we walk into town to have a glass of wine with Federico Bibi and his children Olivia and Gabrielle. We promise them that their mother is just days away from returning home after running our kitchen at Via Umbria in DC.

And finally we walk the Bibi family home and stop in Perbacco for a quick dinner with Ernesto and Simona – a quick dinner is soon forgotten as the evening turns into sharing story after story and grappa after grappa.

And day one is complete.

Everyone here shares our love and passion for Umbria. They have grown up here and choose to raise their families here. There is a magic in the air and they want everyone to know it. They have all joined us in Washington to share their love of Umbria. Coming to cook dinners for our guests, to teach us about wines, to explore the history of jacquard linens in Umbria and of cashmere. This is a community who works with their hands – at the end of the day it’s not about a stack of papers or an empty mailbox – it’s about plants growing in the garden, freshly baked bread, wine opened and served at just the right moment, scarves (did I say scarves?), tablecloths, sweaters and hats from the highest quality linen and cashmere. It’s the blending of the old and the new. We all have the same dream and work together to make sure that Umbria is preserved and shared. We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our friends (now family) in Umbria.

When our children were young their school talked a lot about teachable moments. “An unplanned event during the day that adults can use as a learning opportunity for kids….parents and providers should capitalize on the moment, and provide the opportunity to extend or expand the child’s learning.”

For us, every moment is a teachable moment; an opportunity to learn about what we are seeing and doing; to meet new people and discover new ideas; a moment to stop and reflect on what is happening.

This week we will live every moment to the fullest.

Here in Cannara we will be introducing our group to our family in Italy. We will be drinking local wines, cooking traditional food, discovering the area and most of all learning together and laughing together. Enjoying every moment.

And in Washington at Via Umbria we will be introducing guests to our family in the states. We will be drinking Umbrian wines, cooking Umbrian food, discovering imported products from Umbria and most of all learning together and laughing together. Enjoying every moment.

Thank you to everyone who believes in our dream and works so hard to ensure that everyday is Christmas and everyone is family.

And Easter is for friends Read more

In Italy there is a saying, “Christmas is for family and Easter is for friends.” For the Menards it is not always ...

Cheesemongers Travel in Umbria

One of the little-known facts about working in the cheese business  is that there is a fair amount of travel involved. Visiting cheesemakers and producers is essential to understanding your products and being able to bring them to life for your customers. Lucky for us cheesemongers, most of these cheesemakers live in some pretty darn beautiful, idyllic places. This winter, I was lucky enough to spend time in one of these gorgeous locations – Umbria.

Flying into Perugia, I was full of excitement, not knowing what to expect. I had visited Italy before – Tuscany, Florence, Venice – but had never been to the “green heart of Italy” known as Umbria. As the plane descended, I was struck by the beauty of the Apennine mountains framing the central valley. Even though it was winter, the view was indeed green – full of silvery sage olive groves and striking, pin straight cyprus trees. This was going to be a good trip.
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Having worked at Via Umbria since it opened in November of 2015, you could say that I have become quite familiar with Umbrian cuisine. However, experiencing this style of cooking – Torta al Testo, truffle covered everything, and lots and lots of pork – in its natural habitat was a truly one-of-a-kind experience. It was also fascinating to put these dishes into historical and geographic context. For example, Umbria is the only region in Italy to be completely landlocked, which meant that salt used to be very scarce. As a result, traditional Umbrian bread is still to this day made without salt.

Learning about the cheese culture in Umbria was equally captivating. Because of various importation laws concerning bringing cheese into the US, I was very unfamiliar with the cheese traditions of this particular region. I was lucky enough to be able to shadow Fabio Brocatelli, a local cheesemaker whose family has made cheese in Umbria for the past three generations. Following him around the dairy, I learned that because of the fairly rocky, local mountains, the soil isn’t rich enough to support the type of pastureland necessary for cows. It is, however, ideal for goats and sheep. As such, most cheese from Umbria is either a pecorino, or made from sheep’s milk, or di capra, or made from goats.

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We stopped by and visited with one of the farmers who provides Fabio with sheep milk for his various pecorinos. Like most of the sheep farmers in the area, this shepherd was originally from Sardinia. As we sat at the large, farmhouse table, waiting for the espresso to brew and munching on traditional Sardinian flatbread with homemade cheese, I learned that after the devastation of World War II, many Sardinian farmers made the trek north to Umbria to continue their farming traditions. As such, the amount of sheep drastically increased, and pecorino became an ingrained part of Umbrian cuisine. As drinking espresso turned into drinking housemade wine and mirta (traditional Sardinian liquor), various neighbors started dropping by, filling the kitchen with warmth and laughter. Although my Italian is, in the best of circumstances, poor, and my Sardinian is completely non-existant, I felt charmed and welcomed by these people.

My time in Umbria flew by entirely too quickly. To say I ate well would be the understatement of the year. To say I had a good time would be equally inadequate. I am so grateful for the experience and it is one that I will certainly not soon forget.

Eating Cheese in Umbria Read more

One of the little-known facts about working in the cheese business  is that there is a fair amount of travel involved. Visiting ...

A Labor(atorio) of Love

In a country that is renowned for its warmth, charm and grace, Umbrians, with their authenticity, approachableness and their connectedness to each other, their land, and their culture stand out. For me, there is no place in which this authenticity stands out more than around the dinner table. When I think back on the many (many) meals that I have enjoyed in Umbria, each one is colored with the rosy glow of being surrounded by strangers turned friends and friends turned family, all sharing stories, wine, and food and all living in the moment. The food is simple yet exquisite, the company is fascinating yet unassuming, and the conversation is energetic yet relaxed; every day brings a new experience and every night is a celebration. A visit to Umbria is truly an opportunity to experience authenticity in all aspects of what it means to be Italian.

Murder Mystery Dinner

This is the feeling that drives much of what we do at Via Umbria. We have created a space for friends and neighbors to meet, to eat, and to relax. A place to showcase the work of the amazing artisans of Italy, from ceramicists to winemakers, and to introduce their products and their stories to a new community. Above all, however, we are determined to recreate the feeling of sitting around a dinner table in Umbria- sharing food, telling stories, and creating memories- and from this the Laboratorio was born.

From the communal style seating to the open kitchen format, every aspect of the Laboratorio was designed with the Umbrian experience in mind. The space was created to be open, to be flexible, and to be interactive; in short it is our Laboratory, our space to explore and to create. For those of you who have yet to join us for dinner imagine it like this: take one part dinner party, add in one part of your favorite cooking show, one part wine tasting, and combine those together with a beautiful setting and an engaged group of friends and neighbors sharing a unique and unforgettable experience and you may start to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Making Pizza

But as with all things, the best way to truly understand is to see it for yourself. Join us for dinner Thursday – Saturday night, or for brunch on Sunday for an unforgettable feast in our demonstration kitchen. Enjoy a Thursday night Demo and Dinner and let Chef Johanna Hellrigl teach you her favorite recipes from all over Italy before retiring to the communal table to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Visit us on a Friday night for a CYOB Dinner and let us teach you about a selection of wines from our unique cellar during a guided tasting before choosing your favorite bottle (or bottles) to accompany your meal. For the wine lovers, I encourage you to join us on a Saturday night for a Wine and Dine dinner where each of four courses is paired with a unique wine chosen and discussed by our experienced wine staff. And for those of you who crave relaxation at the end of your week, we welcome you to our Sunday Bottomless Bellini Brunch. No matter the format, no matter the day, a meal spent around our table will be one to remember.

Designed with an Umbrian experience in mind Read more

In a country that is renowned for its warmth, charm and grace, Umbrians, with their authenticity, approachableness and their connectedness to each ...

Bridging the Divide

stranger-things-finale-netflix-featureI recently started watching the Netflix series Stranger Things and I really like it. The show, which is set in rural Indiana in the 1980s follows a group of kids seeking to find their missing friend, and involves a secret government program that punches a hole through parallel universes in order to engage in some cold war spying, only to unexpectedly unleash an incredibly evil monster. Some great acting, especially from the kids, some creative writing and some compelling story lines. I would definitely say it is worth a watch.

I mention this because Via Umbria has been engaged in its own project to bridge parallel universes. And far from unleashing monsters, we have only spread deliciousness and joy.

Those two universes are, of course, Italy and America and we are engaged in an experiment to connect the two. We do that by creating an authentic Italian experience in Georgetown. And we do that by hosting American guests on semi annual food and wine tours at our farm house in Umbria, immersing them in the authentic Umbria that we have come to know and love.

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img_1787-1On Saturday, we arrived in Umbria with nine guests in tow to kick off our fall Food and Wine tours, and less than 36 hours later, I dare say that they have already begun to understand and share our love of Umbria. Yesterday we introduced them to the wines of Umbria, the same Grechettos and Montefalco rossos and Sagrantinos we import and sell at Via Umbria. They met Elena DiFilippo at her organic and biodynamic cantina and drank wine with her, and will welcome Elena’s husband Roberto when he visits Via Umbria this spring. They dined on a homecooked dinner by Chiara Cicogna and heard her speak of her family’s cashmere business, and will join Chiara and us in Washington on November 16 when Chiara exhibits a selection of cashmere treasures at a special holiday trunk show at Via Umbria. This morning they experienced truffle hunting under glorious blue skies near Citta di Castello with our dear friends Saverio and Gabriella Bianconi, who are readying to ship the day’s spoils back to Via Umbria to take center stage at a pair of special truffle dinners coming up next week.

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Nearly a year after reopening our doors as an Italian market, café, restaurant, enoteca and retail store, we are realizing our dream of truly connecting the worlds we inhabit in Washington and in Umbria. This week our food and wine tour group will dine at le Delizie del Borgo, a restaurant lovingly operated by our friends Simone Proietti-Pesci and Ombretta Ubaldi in Bevagna and next month Ombretta, a certified sommelier with an unmatched appreciation for Umbrian wines will return with us to Washington to host a series of special wine dinners at Via Umbria. Later in the month Simone will join us in Georgetown to cook alongside our outstanding executive chef Johanna Heilrigl. We can’t wait for these two to renew their acquaintance and to dazzle us with what they think up and cook up next. A tasting at the Tabarrini winery on Thursday will no doubt be a highlight for our guests, but a command performance in Washington is in the cards, with a special visit by the winery’s owners Giampaolo Tabarrini and his wife Federica Pietrolati for some memorable dinners and maybe a glass of wine or two.

Connecting our guests and our customers to the incredibly rich experiences that we have found in Umbria is what we do, regardless of place. Whether it takes place sotto il sole or under the sun, in Cannara or in Washington, these are the experiences that make up a life and we are proud to offer them to you.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

Incredibly rich experiences Read more

I recently started watching the Netflix series Stranger Things and I really like it. The show, which is set in rural Indiana ...

108 Hours in Cannara

108 Hours in Cannara 006Nothing says summer to me like spending a few weeks in Umbria, visiting friends, finding new and interesting products for the store, enjoying Umbria jazz, and, of course, relaxing by the pool. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out as planned- a lesson we learned last week during a whirlwind visit to to Cannara. with only 108 hours in Cannara – I warn you now, the details of this trip are not for the faint of heart, the easily tired, or the weak of liver- read along at your own risk

Thursday, July 14, 2016

After many days of postponing and rescheduling our trip, we finally made it to the airport, bags in hand, happily seated at our gate, ready for a short but amazing trip to our favorite place only to find out that the flight was delayed. Not just delayed, extremely delayed. By the time we finally (rather crankily) boarded the plane six more hours were gone from our already truncated vacation but we were determined to make the most of it.

Friday, July 15, 2016

108 Hours in Cannara 0056:30pm With our original scheduled arrival time in Rome of 7:24 am we had planned to have lunch with Simone in Bevagna. With the flight delay, however, lunchtime was long gone by the time we left Rome but we beelined for Simone’s anyway (after making a quick stop at Lufra to pick up fresh mozzarella di bufala of course).  We arrived at  le Delizie del Borgo just in time for Spritz O’Clock and spent an hour catching up with our fourth (and favorite) ‘son’ Simone over a platter of salamis and cheese.  

7:30pm When we finally made our way to the Farmhouse, Jennifer McIlvaine and Federico Bibi pulled up behind us with their adorable children, and after a few minutes of excited greetings in the driveway we opted for drinks in the living room.  For those of you suffering through the current east coast heatwave you will find it impossible to believe, but despite being the dead of summer, it was way too cold to sit outside!  

108 Hours in Cannara 002Inside we found Marco and Orusia firing up the pizza oven, and friends of ours from Washington who were staying with us at the Farmhouse soon returned from a day of touring. Not far behind them were our son and his girlfriend whom we picked up at the Foligno train station- the last piece of our group.

Marco outdid himself, as always, and our raucous group enjoyed pie after pie with a bit of spicy bomba and Birra Perugia.  A small taste of Nutella pizza to end the meal.

12:00am No idea what time it was when bedtime finally rolled around but it was definitely  a long day.

 

 

108 Hours in Cannara 007

Saturday, July 16

1:00pm After catching up on our zzzzzs our intrepid group headed to Bevagna for a “light” lunch with Simone.  It was another beautiful day and we happily enjoyed our meal outside in the park.

5:00pm I finally had to give in and take a quick nap while Bill took a group to Foligno on a hunt for a Sicilian pastry shop to satiate a craving for cassata, and a visit to the Granarium (our nearby zero kilometer granary, mill and bakery) for a tour and to buy flour, bread and cookies.

 

7:30pm – It’s a birthday celebration and we have invited several (see below) of our Italian friends to join us.  We were hoping to eat outside, but again it is too cold and the Italians want nothing to do with the chilly, fresh air.  We have Spritz by the pool and then head indoors where Marco has rearranged the dining room to accommodate our small party of 25.  In addition to the group staying with us we are happy to have Gerardo and Assunta Ribigini, Jennifer and Federico (tonight they are senza children), Albertino and Jessica Pardi, Zia Augusta, Alberto, Linda and GianLuca Pardi and Linda’s mother, Federico and Claudia Ribigini and Daniele Sassi.

108 Hours in Cannara 003

108 Hours in Cannara 0018:15pm Everyone has brought wine so we have a selection from Terre Margaritelli, Pardi and Tabarrini to pair with a favorite summer meal – fried sage leaves, onions, zucchini and zucchini blossoms followed by pasta with arugula and walnuts, mixed grill and vegetables from the garden.

10:00pm We have sparklers in the Birthday cake but the real fireworks are outside.  Marco has picked up a fabulous pyrotechnic display and Bill has it matched perfectly to Whitney Houston’s Star Spangled Banner.

Sunday, July 17

6:00am – early departure to Cantina Dionigi for a Hot Air Balloon Ride.  You can read about it here.

108 Hours in Cannara 008

1:00 pm – Lunch in Bevagna with Simone, Marco, Francesco Rustici and his wife Elisa, plus the group at the house.

An opportunity to introduce our guests to our favorite Italian Tradition – Sunday Lunch.  Our children have bravely endured lunches lasting anywhere from 3-7 hours and despite their protests as children they have come to love and expect them.  This is a meal where the food is slowly paced, no electronics are on hand and everyone is engaged in conversation.  

6:00 pm – Not a Menard record – but still an excellent leisurely lunch.

Back to the house with Ombretta’s children Silvia and Tomaso for a quick swim before the sun sets.

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7:00pm – Albertino and Jessica stop by to visit and we make plans for dinner on Tuesday night.

8:00pm – All plans of attending a local wine festival get scratched in favor of setting up the big screen outside and picking up pizza.  Another chilly night so we bundle up and hunker down to watch a movie.

Monday, July 18

108 Hours in Cannara 0099:00am – Up by 9:00 to play cards with Tomaso and Silvia (who have opted to spend the night) and say goodbye to our guests.  

11:00am – The sun is shining and we take a break to sit by the pool and swim with Tomaso and Silvia.

1:00pm – Off to Cantina Tabarrini to see the new renovation – it’s breathtaking.  Giampaolo’s plans and ideas are exhausting but the result is going to be amazing.  We are treated to an excellent meal prepared by Franca and Federica – food fresh from their garden and an introduction to a new label and the latest release of Montefalco Rosso.

6:00pm – Back to the house for a couple of quick business calls and emails – it’s a work day after all.

108 Hours in Cannara 0117:30pm – Dinner at Cantina DiFilippo

Roberto is just back from his winery in Romania but he has the horses all set up for a sunset carriage ride through the vineyard. Elena and Bianca Maria are fantastic hosts and we enjoy a flight of Asiago cheeses and plenty of wines.

Enjoying a beautiful night with friends with Assisi lit up and sparkling in the distance.

Tuesday, July 19

8:00am – Up early to pack and return emails.

1:00pm – Off to lunch at the home of Marco’s parents, Anna and Lodovico Palermi where we are joined by Chiara, Carlo Alberto and Viola and Chiara’s mother Mariella.

3:30pm – Back to the house to Visit with Augusta.

6:00pm – Time to pack up.

108 Hours in Cannara 0127:00pm – Off to Cantina Pardi for a farewell dinner of Jessica’s Korean specialities.  It’s not easy to find all the staples for a Korean feast in the heart of Italy but Jessica makes it all seem simple and delicious.

10:30pm – Quick stop in Bevagna to say goodbye to Simone.  The circle is complete.  We have seen everyone and enjoyed our brief visit.  It’s time to go home and share our experiences, stories and hopefully a few new tastes at Via Umbria.

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Wednesday, July 20

6:00am – Early morning and departure for Rome FCO and back to DC.  Bill gets the honor of captaining the early morning drive.  I sleep.

Not the most relaxing summer vacation – but it’s easy to trade in relaxation for good friends, good wine, and good fun. Italy is such a magical place, but the most special thing about it for me has always been the people and it’s trips like these that remind me how lucky I am to have found such a great community in Umbria. For those of you who were not able to come with us on this trip, we encourage you to keep apprised of the goings on in the store.  Rumor has it a few of these friendly faces may be popping up in Georgetown in the next few months. And for those of you looking to book your own vacations in Italy, give us a call! We are happy to share our experience, and our farmhouse with you.

A whirlwind trip Read more

Nothing says summer to me like spending a few weeks in Umbria, visiting friends, finding new and interesting products for the store, ...