The International Kitchen Blog: Discover the Umbrian Countryside
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Visiting our culinary vacation Discover the Umbrian Countryside

Next August 14, 2012 Previous

Umbria is often compared to Tuscany as it offers the same gorgeous views but at a lower price point. We discovered that again — and so much more — when our Web and Travel Coordinator Liz Hall visited Italy in February.

Here she talks about visiting one of our newest cooking vacations, "Discover the Umbrian Countryside", in the small hillside town of Faiolo, just around the corner from the medieval village of Montegabbione.

A stop at our Italian cooking vacation, "Discover the Umbrian Countryside"
Following a whirlwind four days in the bustling town of Milan for a tradeshow, heading into the Umbrian Countryside felt like a peaceful respite even though I was there for a hotel inspection. While it was February and the hills were still covered in snow (a long, and unusual Winter for this part of Italy!), it was clearly an amazing setting.

After a 20-minute ride from the Chiusi train station, we pulled up to the owner's recently renovated farmhouse. Their dog ran down the hill to happily greet us. Our feet crunched up the path to their home, which also includes a quaint store, a teaching kitchen, and a spacious and beautifully decorated dining area for guests.

Every nook and cranny was charming, from the bedrooms decorated with antique pieces salvaged during the renovation, to the crackling fireplace in the dining room. While it is an agriturismo, it's still very comfortable with every modern amenity, such as hair dryers in the bathrooms, and a shared TV in the common area. The whole place too is very environmentally oriented, just as an agriturismo should be!

But this is a cooking vacation after all, and I'd be remiss not to share the tasty dishes that guests get to experience too. Chef Gianluca is a passionate chef, and his wife acts as your host and guide during your trip; both love serving local ingredients in every dish. Chianina beef is one such local specialty, which they source from the butcher just over the hill. The white chianina is one of the oldest breeds of cattle in the area and offers an extremely high quality of meat.

The other ingredients come from nearby as well. Eggs are from the same butcher who provides the chianina. Wild vegetables come from the hills, such as mushrooms and asparagus. And naturally they use whatever is season in their garden! The cooking classes also include traditional Umbrian pasta dishes, such as umbricelli.

On my visit, in addition to the hearty chianina steak, I had a wonderful first course of pumpkin ravioli topped with bits of fresh bacon. It was a heavenly dish and clearly very seasonal!

I look forward to going back to "Discover the Umbrian Countryside" during warmer weather. The views rival any in Tuscany. The farmhouse and the swimming pool are set on a hill overlooking a huge valley, and even covered in snow, it was a gorgeous sight!

This culinary vacation is available March through December. Read more about it on our Website here.

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