Monday, April 09, 2007


After a quick stop (“no shopping” was Art’s order!) at the IperCoop in Collestrada to pick up more wine, we headed to Assisi. For a change we parked at the lot at the base of the Basilica, knowing that this visit would be shorter, and that we wouldn’t have time to walk the entire length of the city.

The Basilica now offers a free headset, requesting only a donation for their use. This, combined with the new headsets used by most of the tourist groups, made the inside of the church so much quieter…very peaceful.

We viewed Giotto’s frescoes on the first level of the church, then made our way downstairs to the lower Basilica, my favorite part of the church. Its darkness and intensely colored blue-starred ceiling is just magical. Finally we descended to the tomb of St Francis, very small and simple, and a fitting resting place for St. Francis.

After turning in our headsets we walked up the hill, stopping at this shop and that, helping Jami and Beth find cute souvenirs as well as a book telling the story of the town and it’s saint. We stopped at the new olive-wood shop….what great souvenirs something made of olive-wood would make! Lightweight, practically unbreakable, and USEFUL! We also visited the shoe shop where Art had bought shoes on our first visit to Italy. We left Assisi poorer but happy!

By now it was nearing lunchtime, and we’d planned to eat lunch in Montefalco. After spending hours on our feet in Assisi the time in the car was just enough to rest our feet and recharge our batteries.

As we walked up the main shopping street in Montefalco, we were relieved to see that the restaurant we’d planned on was indeed open. I should know the name of this place, but can’t think of it! It’s before you get to the restaurant with all the wine displayed outside, and is decorated with musical instruments on the interior walls.

The meal we had was fabulous….as usual we shared an antipasti platter, accompanied by a bottle of…what else?
Sagrantino! This is the wine Montefalco is famous for, and it’s a treat to be able to share it with friends. After lunch our server brought us each a shot of limoncello. We hadn’t ordered it, but it was their gift to us. When I complimented our server and asked if he had made the limoncello he said, “No, but it is very good! Here, why don’t you take this bottle home to enjoy later?”, and handed me a nice frosty bottle of limoncello! Don’t you just love Italy?

After lunch we wandered through the town, down towards the panoramic overlook with views of the valley below and Assisi off in the distance. Strolling back up to the town square, we found a tiny little enoteca open and ready to sell us both wine AND one liter tins of olive oil. Beth and Jami thought that several one liter tins would be easier to pack than a three or five liter tin, and I agree. Okay, another must-buy now checked off the list!

After Montefalco we drove towards San Venanzo, with a stop at the
Scacciadiavoli winery, one of our favorites. This and the nearby Terre de la Custodia are both friendly places in beautiful settings. These and many other wineries are located on the Strada del Sagrantino, a beautiful drive anytime.

As usual we had a wonderful time learning and tasting, but were disappointed to find out that their Sagrantino had been sold out since December! Their good luck was our bad luck, but we still managed to console ourselves with a few bottles of Montefalco Rosso and their newest wine, an asti spumante type white wine, perfect for an apperitivo! We’d open a bottle for our dinner at home that evening.

We’d invited Belinda and Giacomo for dinner that night, and once we were back home all I had to do was to pop the pans of lasagna and cannelloni that I’d made weeks before and frozen, into the oven. I’d made a rich, flourless chocolate cake on Tuesday evening, having read that anything made with dark chocolate should be made in advance in order to enjoy the intensity of the chocolate.

We topped little slices of crusty bread with pesto for our starter, and along with our new wine we toasted Jami and Beth’s arrival in Umbria! Tomorrow we’d travel to Tuscany to visit a beautiful monastery and the Etruscan city of Cortona. At the end of the day a visit to the Perugina chocolate would give us a guaranteed lift.

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