Friday, August 31, 2018

AN UNEXPECTEDLY PERFECT DAY IN UMBRIA


You just never know how the day will turn out, do you? Yesterday had its ups and downs, but when you're surrounded by this much beauty it's pretty much guaranteed that something will happen to put a smile on your face. Today certainly proved that theory to be true.

We weren't sure what we were going to do today, but started off with our usual walk near Deruta. We could hear the drummers practicing in a nearby parking lot – there's a festa tonight in Deruta, complete with medieval costumes, and the drummers always add a touch of drama as they march through the city gates.

After our walk we decided to stop by Tassi, our favorite ceramics shop, just one block over from where we walk. We need to order a piece, and with so many choices of shapes, sizes, patterns and colors, we knew we needed to start early. We're here until the beginning of November, but that will be here before you know it.

Valeria and Sara were at their stations, painting away, and Marco was happy to show us various pieces and make suggestions on color changes and combinations. As we got ready to leave he asked: “What are you doing today for lunch?” Last week at the porchetta festa in Costano, he and Valeria had told us about Valeria's cousin, who supplies the porchetta for a place in Santa Maria degli Angeli, and had asked if we'd be interested in going with them for lunch one day. We had agreed, but hadn't set a date. We had no plans for today, so sure!, what time should we meet?

Marco then suggested we leave then (it was about 10:30), and have a walk through Assisi before lunch. Never ones to refuse a visit to the beauty of Assisi, we agreed, hesitantly, because we were still in our walking clothes. Marco said it was fine, he was just in shorts and a t-shirt as well, and we all agreed that we looked like the perfect group of tourists, so off we went.


On the way we discussed many things, including St. Francis. Marco asked if we'd ever been to the Eremo, the small cave up on the side of Mt. Subasio where Francis went to meditate and spend time alone, and we admitted we had not. This was the perfect time, so off we went, up the hill around Assisi, then off to the right, up a road we'd never taken before. And up. And up. And finally we arrived at a small parking lot filled with cars – obviously a popular place. As we walked into the complex – the small cave and chapel used by St. Francis have been added to over the years - signs warned us to be quiet, to respect our surroundings. The quiet was blissful, the only sound was the crunching of our feet as we walked down the gravel path. The air was much cooler and a nice breeze was blowing. Trails led off in every direction, either steeply up or steeply down. This walk in the woods is no walk in the woods – stamina and skill are necessary.

After wandering down the main path, enjoying the silence and the views, we headed back downhill to find the restaurant in the Bosco di San Francesco just below Assisi. A friend had just eaten at the restaurant a few days earlier, and we were happy for Marco to show us where it was.

And then it was off to Santa Maria degli Angeli, for lunch at Porcellino Divino. The porchetta is supplied by Valeria's cousin from Costano, which is famous for it's porchetta. The place is legally a butcher/wine shop, with a case for meats and cheeses, bottles of wine along the back wall, tables set up in two rooms, and a sign stating that table service is NOT available. The sign is only to maintain the illusion that this is not a restaurant, that it's 'just' a butcher shop. Luckily, the powers-that-be appparently realize the incredible food is worth bending the rules!

 We watched as the maestro expertly sliced the porchetta into paper thin, perfectly even, intact pieces. A generous serving of porchetta was placed on a sliced section of torta al testo, topped with some sundried tomatoes, then grilled. In addition to warming the sandwich, the torta now had a nice crunch to it, and the conversation slowed.  Occasionally one of us would say (again) “this is soooo good!”, but we mostly concentrated on eating and enjoying another simple, simply perfect meal. Art and Marco had a glass of red wine, but I stuck to water, afraid I'd nod off in the car - wine at lunch tends to do that to me!

 On the way back to Deruta we stopped in Passagio di Bettona, at one of our favorite gelaterias, Dulcinea. If Art and I had been by ourselves, we wouldn't have stopped because we were so full. Not uncomfortably full, but just nicely full, completely satisfied. But, when Marco pulled into the gelateria, neither one of said no! The dark chocolate gelato was about a rich and as decandent as you could ever wish for. There was no banana today, so I chose hazelnut, making my own creamy version of a Baci with gelato. Wow. This was certainly the perfect ending to an unexpectedly perfect day. Umbria's like that.


Post Script: On the way home we discussed what day we should meet for our next meal, at the next festa, the onion festa in Cannara. Stay tuned

2 Comments :

At 9/02/2018 12:14:00 AM , Blogger Karen K said...

Hi Barb. I so love reading your blog. I have missed seeing post from you. I will be in Umbria on Oct. 16th thru the 25th for the EuroChocolate Festival and hoping to visit Deruta to see the ceramics. I may also have to try to find the restaurant you mentioned. Enjoy your time there. Karen

 
At 9/02/2018 01:51:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks Karen - enjoy the chocolate festival - and everything about Umbria!

 

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