Friday, 15 January 2016

Umbria - Italy's green heart (day 1)

I was recently invited on an education tour to promote the Terni territory of Umbria.  

With the hilltop city of Perugia as its capital, Umbria is called the country's green heart, known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine, particularly foraged truffles and wines.


My stay in Terni started with a visit to Arrone, an ancient fortified hilltop town dating back to the ninth century, and some of its most remarkable places. Meandering through the picturesque alleyways, passing old stone houses and ancient monuments and visiting some of its beautiful churches.






The parish church of Santa Maria Assunta dates from the early fifteenth century. Its façade has four slopes with bell tower and three portals; the middle one dated 1493, preserved in the lunette is a fresco depicting the Madonna and the Angels. Inside further frescoes have been uncovered depicting the Madonna and Child with Sts. Peter and John the Evangelist. 




The church of San Giovannia Battista (St John the Baptist), built during the 13-14 centuries, has a square bell tower and lavishly decorated frescoes. We were invited to ascend the narrow staircase, one by one, to the top of the tower where we listened to the bell toll, earplugs provided!



Leaving Arrone we headed for the town of Ferentillo, situated at the foot of wooded hills in the Valnerina valley. The commune, located in the valley of the Nera, is divided by the river into the burghs of Matterella and Precetto, characterised by noble palaces, artistic churches and staired alleys.

Our stop involved a tour around the "Museo delle Mummie" (mummy museum), situated in the romanesque crypt beneath the Church of Santa Stefano which dates back to the 13th century. It is a 78 foot long crypt displaying bodies whose mummification was due to specific micro-organisms and to the temperature and humidity conditions of the place. 

Having truly worked up an appetite, our last stop of the day was at the beautiful Ristorante Piermarini, selected by EATALY to represent Umbria at the EXPO 2015 in Milan. The farm produces truffles and olive oil following family tradition, this enables them to control the entire production cycle, with particular attention to the pursuit of absolute quality. Natural truffle and truffle plants guarantee a steady supply of the best local tuber which, combined with oil produced according to ancient traditions, characterizes the unique cuisine of the restaurant Piermarini.



  
   

If you'd like to read day 2, it can be found here