The Art of Eating in Umbria - Highlights & Itinerary

November  2-10, 2021

Civitella Ranieri, Umbertide Italy


*Olive oil: Its fresh olive oil season and nothing compares to the smell and taste of newly pressed olive oil. It's time to taste, visit a mill and learn about the oil that is fundamental to Italian cuisine.

*Truffles & Porcini: If the weather gods are kind to us, November is the time of year when the white truffles are peak perfection. It's also the right time for porcini in all their glory: fried, roasted, on your pasta and everywhere else we can find them. Plan on a truffle hunt, and perhaps a bit of porcini foraging.

*Wine: The grapes will already be harvested, but it is the perfect time to visit some wineries and discover unique Umbrian wines; particularly the up and coming wineries in the Lago Trasimeno area.

*Cooking Classes with Romana Ciubini, head chef at Civitella Ranieri Art Foundation.  Romana has a cult following among the artists who come to Civitella Ranieri, and with good reason! She is a champion of the Umbrian ethos of eating locally. It is an honor and a treat to spend time with her in the kitchen.

Porchetta, Salumi & Cinghiale: Umbria is famous for their salumi; the Umbrian town of Norcia is so famous, that throughout Italy, salumeria are known as Norcineras. Although most regions in Italy make some variation on the whole roasted pig that is known as porchetta...the Umbrian variation is absolutely the best in Italy! (Fighting words, but we stand by them!) Cool weather means it is the right time of year for a hearty dish of cinghiale (wild boar...they may be ugly, but they sure do taste good. Brutto ma buono as the saying goes!)

Say Cheese! Say Formaggio!: No matter how you say it, the cheese here will make you smile. Umbria makes world class pecorino (sheep) cheese; but they are also turning out some goat cheese that would make the French envious.

*Communal dinners with special guests. We are inviting local producers and artists to join us for dinner. Looking forward to discussions about how the olives are doing this year, or what does it take to be an organic winemaker.  We can ask our visiting  art historians the burning question: "Have you ever noticed that in Renaissance paintings no one is ever actually seen eating anything. Why is that?"  Look forward to good food, tasty wine & great conversations!


Typical Itinerary

*Italian food revolves around the seasons, and sometimes Mother Nature throws us curve balls, so this itinerary will be refined and fine-tuned once we know how the olives, grapes & truffles are faring.

Day 1 Saturday: Arrival at the Castle with a tour of the grounds and a discussion of the castle's history. Including the story of how the count lost his head!

Day 2 Sunday: We’ll start the morning with a lively discussion of the history of typical foods of Umbria. (Why lively? Because talking about food in Italy brings out the passion that makes Italian food so delicious!)

Sunday lunch is a 'thing' in Italy. A really big thing, so we plan on doing it in style at a nearby agro-tourismo where Sylvia and Federico make everything themselves: cheese, pasta and prosciutto.

Day 3 Monday: An extraordinary opportunity to visit the Archeologia Arborea, with an art and plant historian who literally makes classic paintings come alive.

After a plant-based morning, its time for some pork with a visit to a porchetta and salumi maker in Montone. And yes, of course, we're going to be eating some porchetta!

Day 4 Tuesday: Time to start wine-ing! Although we've been sipping wine for days, today we will visit two very different wineries, with dinner in an historic wine cave to top off the day.

Day 5 Wednesday: Market Day in Umbertide! A guided tour through the market and then some free time to wander the town or just sit in the piazza and soak up some of the atmosphere. Later in the day, we'll explore the world of truffles with a hunt and a tasting.

Day 6 Thursday: One cannot eat and eat without wanting some exercise. Diego Mencaroni will lead us on an easy hike in his hometown, followed by an exceptional lunch at a local osteria.

Then we'll head back to the castle for a cooking class with Romana.

Day 7 Friday:  A good day for a deep dive into the mysteries of olive oil. In the afternoon we will visit a goat cheese maker who is making waves with the pecorino eating people of Umbria.

Day 8 Saturday:  A morning cooking class where some freshly baked bread will taste very good for our final day together. Expect a cocktail class that will explain why there are so many Italian ingredients in classic cocktails (hint: it has something to do with cruise ships).

Day 9: Departure day with a return to Fiumicino's Leonardo da Vinci airport.