Saturday, 14 June 2014

Perugia, Umbria, Italy (part 1)

Perugia, the Italian region with amazing wine, landscapes and food like truffles and wild boar. They also have their own local pasta, like many regions in Italy. Approximately 1,5 hours driving from Rome, Perugia is a beautiful little town, popular with students because of the local university. We stayed at an 'agriturismo' in the mountains. We did not realise it was that high up though. I have already told you that Italian drivers drive absolutely mental. They also do that on the smallest Italian mountain roads. The ones where every 5 seconds you find yourself in front of a dead corner. They still drive like they own the road. And people walk in the middle of the street! Crazy! 

MrBehomeforT got us to the right place in the end and WOW, it was beautiful! I found 'Torre Valbiancara' on Tripadvisor, and I can tell you that the place was indeed as amazing as all the reviews said it was. The owner told us the place was an old watch tower to keep an eye on rival Assissi. You see, throughout the years Italian cities and areas were at war and that's why all these beautiful city walls and towers were built.

We had a whole apartment with a kitchen and a living room. There was also a garden where you could sit down and relax. Cute dog and cat were walking around the property and there were flowers everywhere. You could see that the owner and his wife really made an effort to keep their customers happy. The place is so idyllic and beautiful. You could easily spend a whole day there sitting in the sun, drinking glasses of wine. We decided to go for dinner in Perugia, a 20 minute drive from the property. Later on we would find out that the owners were such amazing cooks that we should have not gone out for dinner on the first night.

 Perugia is a cute little student town with some stunning views. We found a nice place for dinner but had to wait for a while before it opened. Time for aperitivo! As. MrBehomeforT was driving he could not drink unfortunately. I ordered a wine and we got some bruschetta with cheese and ham, porcini and truffle paste and a salad with olives, tomatoes and some sort of grain. Very nice.

The restaurant was located in a cute quiet cellar with wine everywhere. We ordered a plate with some salumi and ham. We also ordered a plate with smoked meat in a citrus dressing, one of the house specialities. Absolutely love the meat here. It's delicious! I also ordered a glass of the house wine. There was only one other couple in the restaurant and the guy was showing the waitress several 'magic' tricks. The waitress seemed impressed. I could not help walking over to see what was going on. The guy, who I called 'the Italian Harry Potter' - in English with an English accent (no reaction from Harry), was balancing the edge of a cork on a bottle of wine with two forks. Pretty impressive balancing act. He was also hanging a fork off the side of a water bottle. When I said something like "senioro Harry Potter Italiano, bravo" - in "Italian" with an Italian accent Harry seemed to understand and he and his wife were quite amused.

MrBhehomeforT and I both ordered beef for the main. I ordered the special whereas MrBehomeforT ordered the normal 'bistecca' with potatoes. The special seemed to be the more rustic and the better version. Italians are serious about their food. They use fresh ingredients and are proud of it. Often the menu states which butcher the meat comes from. The steak was super tender, well seasoned and served with some sort of Italian vegetable. 

We had to have dessert of course. We thought we would try something else than Tiramisu, so we ordered the 'millefeulle', a flavoured cream with crunchy pastry. There were not exactly a thousand layers, like in France, but this simplified version was just as delicious. 

Then we had to drive back to the Agriturismo. I was so happy MrBehomeforT drove and I did not have to drive. The roads are so small, and so steep! It's absolutely crazy! It was dark too and I have to admit that I was stressed out. But it all went well and we got there safely. We ate some of the chocolate and the nougat slice we bought and drank some wine we bought earlier that day. I did not mind our castle like apartment, it was very cute.

The next morning we joined the owner of the agriturismo for breakfast. The breakfasts in agriturismo's and B&B's in Italy are in my experience extremely big. In Australia we quickly eat some cereal on weekdays, and in the weekend we go out for brekkie and order poached eggs or pancakes. In Holland we have a croissant or a 'beschuit' with cheese or strawberries and a lot of tea. But in the agriturismo we got a basked full of pastries including homemade pikelets, yoghurt, orange juice, fruit and tea. I was stuffed! 

That day we decided to drive through the region and visit a few villages in the neighborhood: Torgiano (which has a wine museum), Assissi and Spello. Pictures and more in the next blog post. 


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