10 Reasons Why Your Next Vacation Should be to Umbria, Italy
A Mrs. McGarrigle’s culinary tour is more than just (incredible) food – they allow us to share our passion for this beautiful region, its people and their culture. You will not only experience Umbria’s rich culinary traditions in nightly cooking classes at the palazzo, but you’ll also see how fresh mozzarella is made, harvest olives, and visit family-run wineries (depending on the season) – developing a deeper understanding and appreciation for your ingredients and where they come from.
We’ve been running these culinary tours for eight years now – and while I often see many familiar, friendly faces – there is always a new and refreshing experience waiting. Without further ado, we give you: 10 Reasons Why Your Next Vacation Should be to Umbria, Italy
#1: The Palazzo Venturelli
Your culinary tour includes a stay at a beautifully restored 15th century Renaissance palazzo in the heart Amelia – complete with views of the rolling Umbrian countryside, large beds with luxurious linens and amazing breakfasts – you’ll never want to leave! Owners and good friends Rita, Michela and Guglielmo join us in hosting excursions and meals all week.
You’ll discover the ancient hilltown and commune of Narni in central Italy. Narni’s Sotterranea or underground – undiscovered until the 1970s – features an underground 12th century church, monastery and prisons that were used during the Inquisition. At an altitude of 280 m, it overhangs a narrow gorge of the Nera River in the province of Terni – it’s an incredible sight!
#3: The Culture
You’ll get to experience the authentic side of Italy as you travel around meeting new friends and farmers that enthusiastically share their love of the rural Italian countryside – and its vibrant culture and traditions.
#4: The Wine
You’ll visit authentic family-run wineries while strolling through the vineyards with the charming winemaker himself – accompanied by crisp Umbrian whites and fruity red wines in a tasting led by the family’s vintner.
#5: The Charm
You’ll get to see a side of Italy that most travellers miss out on – you’ll peruse local markets and discover charming hilltop villages, narrow cobblestone streets and stunning Medieval architecture. You definitely won’t want to forget your camera at home.
You’ll get to see Orvieto, whose charms range from a breathtaking black and white Gothic Duomo in the centre of town, to ancient Etruscan artifacts (100 – 300BC), to trendy shops and talented artisans’ ateliers. Orvieto is also home to many ristoranti (one of Orvieto’s specialty dishes is truffle pasta) and the white wines produced in the region are highly prized.
#7: The Food
You’ll experience a feast for your stomach and soul! You’ll immerse yourself in Umbria’s rich culinary traditions through nightly cooking classes with local chefs Alessia and Andrea at the palazzo. Not only will you get to learn how to cook like the authentic pros on your culinary tour, but you get to eat your creations afterwards.
#8: Civita di Bagnoreggio
You’ll get to see the most stunning hilltop village in Umbria – Civita di Bagnoreggio! It’s surrounded by a vast canyon and accessed only by a footbridge – with a population of only 21! The huge stone entranceway was originally carved by the Etruscans (circa 500 BC) – and once through this gate, you enter another world, largely unchanged since the Middle Ages.
#9: The Olives
You’ll visit the olive mill Frontoio Bartolomei, an olive mill that was established at the end of the 19th century and currently run by the fourth generation of the Bartolomei family – the first family in the Montecchio region to establish their own mill on their farm! The mill also houses a fascinating olive oil museum featuring a massive wooden 16th century olive press. You’ll tour the vineyards and olive groves with daughter Carla and enjoy lunch in the olive mill and taste authentic Bruschetta toasted over in the woodburning fireplace, and experience authentic salume, cheese and tapenades of the region, along with their own authentic wines produced on the farm.
You’ll experience the breathtaking Montefalco, known for its magnificent views, linen mills, quaint shops and full-bodied Sagrantino wine made exclusively in the area. Every year around Easter, the town sponsors a major festival called Settimana Enologica — or Wine Week — where visitors can enjoy the principal wines produced in the area.