Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saints, Salamis & Unspoilt Nature – Surprising Umbria!

June 15, 2010 by Travel Guide  
Filed under Sites To See

St. Benedict, the finest cured meats, and wild unspoilt nature are all located in Eastern Umbria.

Perugia is Umbria’s political capital, but the surrounded town of Norcia is the place known as being the culinary capital. Below the famed Appennines, in the region’s wild and mountainous east, the forests provide habitat for many game birds. The rivers are jumping with trout and the pork and truffles are simply world-class.

The Norcinerie: Norcia is well known for food shops. The pork butcher shops (norcinerie) are particularly unique. They follow centuries of traditional practices in killing and butchering the pigs. In fact, these practices date from the Middle Ages. prosciutto (ham), pancetta (bacon), and a variety of sausages and salamis are some of the meats you can find for sale.

The inside of the store is outstanding. Watch out for a stuffed boar’s head, chunks of hanging prosciutti, racks of salami and mounds of aromatic cheeses. On the floors lay sacks of locally grown legumes, among them black-eyed peas and white cannelloni beans. Request the le lenticchia de Castelluccio di Norcia if you desire the lentils that are the best.

Any one of these delectable treats can be mixed as a snack when prepared with panini bread. Norcia is known for its truffles, so you should take the opportunity to try them while eating at a restaurant or buy a small bottle of them yourself. Used with garlic, olive oil, and anchovies, savory sauces made with truffles makes a wonderful pasta sauce.

Churches and More: Morcia is the birthplace of St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monks, and this town’s crowning glory is its awe-inspiring Gothic church, which was named after him. You’ll see it in the village’s central piazza, which bears the same name. Because of multiple earthquakes in this region, the church has only retained part of the original exterior facade. However, a loving restoration has been performed to ensure that the cross-shaped building can continue to be enjoyed and admired. This awe-inspiring structure features a polygonal apsis and stunning ogival portal. Additionally, its beautiful frescoes and paintings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries can still be admired.

It is still said that the remains of the saint are still hidden under the church itself. Inside the 14th century church of Saint Augustine, there is a Madonna and Child fresco. Another structure from the time of the Renaissance is the Castellina, formerly a fort, which currently houses the Municipal Diocesan Museum.

Natural Beauty: There are walking tracks surrounding Norcia that take you through the Umbrian hills. Begin by strolling from the little village of Serravalle, experiencing what it must be like to live in Italy’s rural areas by walking along the narrow roads in this beautiful town. In springtime, the fields of the Plain of Castelluccio put on a massive display of blooming flowers.

At the Parco Nazionale Monti Sibillini, near the village of Visso, winding walking tracks, carry the hiker through the woods of the Apennine mountains to ascend through the Valle di Visso. From there, the trail winds gently down into the valley of Preci. One other popular walk goes to one of Europe’s highest plateaus, the Piano Grande, with its nearby mountains like the 2400m Monte Vettore. For hundreds of years the fields in this region have been used by the Castelluccio farmers to raise the specific lentils sold in Norcia’s specialty food stores.

You will not easily forget a visit to magical eastern Umbria. Whether you are looking for Saints, Salamis or some carefree and unspoiled nature, you won’t be let down.


One Response to “Saints, Salamis & Unspoilt Nature – Surprising Umbria!”
  1. Traveler says:

    Great article! Umbria seems like a wonderful travel destination in Italy.

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