This walk in Italy is a special experience as Umbria has all the ingredients of culture and gastronomy that we strive for! The extraordinary frescoes of Giotto and Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti in Assisi for example. The fantastic wines presented to us by Roberto Angellini ……. some of the best Italy have to offer. And then the magnificent flowers of the Sibillini mountains. It is a week not to be missed for those that love the good things in life! Mules accompany you on the longer days walking in the mountains to lighten the load. You will enjoy the great hospitality of Marco and Francesca at their beautiful lodge behind the whale-back Monte Subasio.

Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, the Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Mostly hilly or mountainous, its topography is dominated by the Apennines. It is the only Italian region having neither coastline nor common border with other countries. In the Monti Sibellini we will include a visit to the tiny desolate lake, the Lago di Pilato (the supposed death bed of Pontius Pilate) as well as two other days walking around the crater of Castelluccio. An extraordinary plethora of flowers is here in June, in fact one of the wonders of the flower world.

Olive oil groves abound at the foot of Monte Subasio intermingled with the Umbrian Sagrantino vineyards and we will be visiting two very different sorts of winemakers. Giovanni who makes wonderful Sagrantino wine and virgin pressed olive oil which is sold all over Italy, and Ambrogio whose wine is served in a concrete vat on his farm. This is wine made the old-fashioned way. Not only does Ambrogio make his own wine which we will be sampling together with his own unfiltered olive oil but also his own hams and salamis. Definitely no additives here!

Gastronomy is as high on the list as ever. Truffles will feature in the cuisine of the chef of the Grotta Azurra hotel in Norcia and we will have a morning truffle hunt with Nicola and Nina, his beautiful chocolate cocker spaniel. Norcia is a tiny circular walled village at the foot of the Sibellini mountains which is famed for its charcuterie of wild boar and the truffles it has. After seeing how they hunt for truffles, in the evening we will sample the most delicious gnocchi imbued with black truffle and finished off with a grating of white truffle. Also on the menu in the week will be oven-baked pizza, vitello, carciofi, oodles of olive oil and of course … gelato!

Norcia itself is incredibly pretty with its small square (sheltering one excellent gelateria for clandestine enthusiasts). The wall has seven gates that are supposed to represent the seven vestal virgins who stand to protect the village. The two stark white churches in the square are a dramatic contrast to the strange castle that sits on another side and the classical porphyry loggia that stands opposite.

We shall also be staying in the beautiful more gentle landscape of the foothills of Monte Subasio. Before walking through the vineyards and olive groves of the Valle di Spoleto we will do an early morning visit to the great basilica of San Francesco and view the famous frescoes painted by Giotto. More time will be spent in the tiny chapel of Saint Martin painted by Simone Martini. Here we will see the difference between the Sienese artists and those from Florence – the difference between a solid placement in space and an extraordinarily beautiful sense of line and grace.

Perugia will be our last port of call. This is a fine Etruscan city that H.V. Morton described as one in which he could well imagine how easy it was to murder someone in the Middle Ages. The alleys are narrow and dark and they run off the wonderful Corso Vannucci in a myriad of iniquity. Of course, being the last day, this would be an ideal opportunity for shopping.

Please note: you could extend your vacation in Italy to two weeks, by adding our week in Tuscany, either before or after this trip.

Dates: June 2-9, June 16-23
Rate: $2,795.00 USD double occupancy (Single Supplement: $500.00 USD)

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