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03 February 2010
WanderFood Wednesday: a few of my favorite things, part four
small-town sustenance

mmm, ravioli with duck ragu
mmm, ravioli with duck ragu (Taverna della Rocca, Frontone)

This is the fourth and final installment in a four-part series of my favorite Italian food porn from our recent trip. The other three parts are linked below.

Part four: small-town restaurants
One could argue whether or not some of these sites are actually small towns... it's all relative once you start traveling through the Italian countryside. All of these sites were reached via daytrip from our agriturismo in Le Marche, and each had its own distinct charm. In contrast with our culinary adventures in Florence and Venice, visiting these smaller cities was much more about slow food and slow travel, sampling the local fare, and taking a deep-deep-deep breath to soak it all in. In some cases, we had a recommendation for a specific restaurant. More often than not, we followed our nose and found a place that suited our needs in the moment. Regardless, each of these towns had their own stories to tell; links and recommendations are provided below.

cantucci e vinsanto
cantucci e vinsanto (Vineria PerBacco, Anghiari) 

heart attack on a plate, om nom nom
heart attack on a plate, om nom nom (Agriturismo Olivetano, Perugia) 

panini-licious (Caffe Duomo, Assisi)

Zuppa della Luna
Zuppa della Luna (Osteria Della Luna, Gradara) 

sadly, not the mixed grill… awesome piadine tho
sadly, not the mixed grill… awesome piadine tho (Taverna della Rocca, Frontone)

Hop on over to Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering pics.

Vineria PerBacco
Galleria girolamo magi
52031 - Anghiari (AR)
+39 0575 788893

Agriturismo Olivetano
Strada dei Cappuccinelli, 18
S. Lucia - Perugia
+39 075 44235

Caffe Duomo
Piazza San Rufino, 5
06081 Assisi
+39 075 81 55 209

Osteria Della Luna Di Ercoles E Cimarelli
Via Umberto Primo
61012 Gradara (PU)
+39 0541 969838

Taverna della Rocca
Via Leopardi, 22
61040 Frontone (PU)
+39 0721 786109

* A few of my favorite things, part one: big-city restaurants
* A few of my favorite things, part two: festival snacky-treats
* A few of my favorite things, part three: handmade with love

* Anghiari: Tuscan daytrip
* Perugia: full of surprises
* Assisi: saints and sinners
* Frontone: can you smell what the Rocca's cooking?
* Gradara photos

* browse photos by region: Le Marche | Umbria

If you enjoyed this post, please help us spread the word!


Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment

05 October 2009
Laptop FAIL

The past week in Le Marche has been awesome, and I was looking forward to regaling you with tales of castles, adorable hill towns, and nonstop pigging out on local delicacies and wines. However, we returned back to La Tavola Marche on Friday night, after a most excellent day in Assisi, to find that our laptop hard drive had completely crapped out. Crap, indeed! This presents many challenges, from the mundane (borrowing a computer at the local internet cafe) to the discouraging (several hundred pics not yet backed up to CD) to the downright critical (Mark's work and some big deadlines). Thanks to some scrambling, and assistance from my brother, we hope to have a replacement shortly. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, lest you think we're letting this crisis get us down (as if!) here are a few pics from our delightful daytrip to Assisi. More soon, hopefully.

atop Rocca Maggiore
atop Rocca Maggiore

Basilica di San Francesco
Basilica di San Francesco

Assisi by the light of the moon
Assisi by the light of the moon

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments

02 October 2009
Saints and sinners in Assisi

We were a little unsure about visiting Assisi, hometown of Saint Francis and focal point for religious tourism. Would they even let us in? What would two heathens do all day in this super-Catholic town? Bolstered by A&J's recommendation and some other positive reports, we decided to make a go of it.

Assisi is a drive-able daytrip from Piobbico, over the mountains and into Umbria's Spoleto Valley. This was our first real experience with the Italian Autostrada, the national highway system. I gotta say, after winding our way back and forth on tiny mountain passes, it was pretty nice to open up and haul ass on some nice straight roads. Everything you've heard about Italians driving maniacally is true. We had to speed up to keep up.

approaching Assisi

We knew we'd made the right choice the first moment we spotted Assisi from the road. Carved into the Umbrian hillside, this fabulous medieval city does have its fair share of churchy sights, but it's also got cool castles with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. As with many Italian hilltowns, it's a little tricky to get your bearings, and it took us a while to find what we were looking for. But everyone knows that getting lost and wandering around is half the fun!

Rocca Maggiore: impenetrable fortressRocca Maggiore and Assisi's historic centerOur first stop was the Rocca Maggiore, the enormous 13th century fortress perched high atop the city. This place spoiled us for all future castle exploration! There is an entrance fee, but it's worth every penny. There are not one but TWO towers to climb, affording magnificent views of Umbria in all directions. The main fortress building has some marvelous displays of weapons, armor, and even a room re-enacting a famous medieval painting. (OK, I'll admit, those faceless mannequins were a little creepy.) Everything is well-labeled in English and several other languages. There's a really cool tunnel joining the fortress with the keep, which you can walk through and peek out the tiny windows, pretending you're a knight defending the castle from invading forces. Just watch your head; they were a lot shorter in those days! We also enjoyed the displays and photos from Calendimaggiore, a huge festival that takes place in May and looks like a cross between a Renaissance Faire and Burning Man. We just might have to come back for that!

Franciscan monk on an errand
Franciscan monk on an errand

The remainder of our Assisi explorations included wandering around the piazza in front of the Basilica di Santa Chiara, a peek inside the Duomo di San Rufino (with a somewhat surreal exhibit of JP2-inspired Pope-art), the Temple of Minerva, and of course a visit to the Basilica di San Francesco. As it happened, our visit coincided with the Feast of Saint Francis, so the catacombs beneath the lower church were packed with people streaming in to pay their respects to Assisi's patron saint. The air was thick with incense as pilgrims of all shapes and sizes lined up in hushed tones to circle the crypt containing the remains of Saint Francis. It was yet another occasion for some excellent people-watching. Tiny Italian nuns knelt and wept with outstretched hands. Familes with matching rosaries reverently touched a cornerstone and made the sign of the cross. An entire football team got their picture taken in front of the crypt. And somehow Mark and I made it out of there without being hit by lightning, which to my mind seemed the real miracle.

awesome Assisi sunset
awesome Assisi sunset

We emerged to find a stupendous sunset, followed by an enormous full moon rising over Assisi. Gorgeous. Who knew we'd have such a great time in this sacred city?

Alas, apparently we'd pushed our heathen luck a bit too far. As most of you already know, we returned to the agriturismo that night to find that our laptop had inexplicably died. I would've preferred a lightning hit! No matter, not even this technological catastrophe could marr an otherwise delightful day exploring Assisi. We highly recommend this town to anyone visiting Umbria, saints and sinners alike.

* all Assisi pics
* La Tavola Marche: Assisi, A Day Trip in Umbria
* Laptop FAIL


If you enjoyed this post, please help us spread the word!

Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments