October 2, 2023
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What’s the best place for a culinary vacation in Italy? Nestled in the hills of central Umbria is one of the world’s best foodie destinations, a small medieval town called Norcia. Although not large in size, it is large on the culinary scene for being home to some of Italy’s most distinctive products. It is also known as the birthplace of Saint Benedict and his sister, Saint Scholastica.
Lenticchie di Castelluccio are a specific type of lentil grown in the region, and are one of the area’s most famous products. The lentils are small, sweet, thin-skinned, and totally delicious. When cooked, they retain their integrity without getting mushy, and yet are wonderfully tender. In additional to the lentils, the region grows many grains (Umbria is called the “green heart of Italy”).
Another famous product you can experience during a culinary vacation in Norcia are the cured meats, mostly pork products. The pork butcher shops that produce and sell such products are known as “norcinerie” (singular is “norcineria”). Some of the famed varieties are prosciutto, prosciutto tascabile, coppa, lonza, capocollo, and corallina. Many of the pork produces are “air-cured,” which means they take on the flavors and aromas of the surroundings, giving the hams a distinctly regional characteristic. This regional “terroir” imbues itself also into cheese, most notably the sheep’s milk cheese that is produced in the neighboring mountains.
As if all that weren’t enough, it is also the land of the black truffle!
Our Food Lover’s Paradise in Norcia culinary vacation in Italy combines all the best that Italy has to offer. The accommodations are in a beautiful, family-run hotel in a historic palazzo. It was recently named one of the 25 most beautiful hotels by CNN Travel. Its restaurant has a Michelin star, and you cook with its chefs learning to make the regional specialities. The excursions are fabulous: a truffle hunt with a local man and his dog, visits to the gorgeous towns of Assisi and Spoleto, a trip to Montefalco including a winery visit and tasting, and season food-producer visits.
And over it all stands the wonderful Bianconi family, owners of the hotel and restaurant, who work hard to make sure their every guest is treated like family.
You can learn more about Norcia or try your hand at some Norcian recipes by searching our blog. If you’d like to visit Norcia yourself, you can do so during our Cooking and Walking in Norcia itinerary, or our classic Food Lover’s Paradise in Norcia.
If you’d like more information, or if you’d like to know available dates for next year, please contact us. It truly is a food-lover’s dream.
By Peg Kern
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