Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  

A little trip to Italy

Recommended Posts

Yes, it's another "Im going to Italy where should I eat" thread! :biggrin:

In a couple of weeks, we will fly to Pisa, then drive to Preci (near Norcia) where we´ll stay for a week in a little apartment we rented. So I´m hoping to do some cooking there (the kitchen is supposed to be very well equipped, which will be a first for me as far as rented cottages in Italy/Spain/France are concerned..)

After that we have a couple of days with no plans, before we head north to Urbino where I´ve booked a couple of nights in a hotel just outside the town. After Urbino, it´s on to Montone (now, where to eat in Montone? I´ve this new place, Erba Luna, is the place to be :laugh: ). After that, Pisa home!

So, I´ve read the Umbrian threads but still thought I´d see if there are some new and fresh recommendations. I would particularly like a sugeestion for a good place to spend the first night, on the way from Pisa to Preci, not too far from Pisa, a quiet little town, for our first Italian dinner!

Any recs for the area around Preci much appreciated.

Also, ideas for what to do- where to eat on the road from Preci to Urbino.

Thanks in advance and ofcourse, there will be a picture loaded report upon our return!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I look forward to your reports, Klary! Unless you're drafted for kitchen duty, we may see what's on the menu at Erba Luna :smile: .


Have you ever been to Umbria before?

I can tell you a lot about what to see, why, and so forth, but in ways that have little to do with culinary matters.

Anything planned for your stay in Le Marche?

ETA: Do you have access to a library in Amsterdam that has copies of the Guida Rossa put out by The Touring Club Italiano? Even if their regional books are only in Italian, they are designed for travel by car and provide distances and every obscure little spot along routes between major destinations. Maps are fantastic. Lists of everything imaginable. * * *Also, check out Slow Travel sites. Dean Gold's recommendations are to be trusted and he's got a lot on wine country in Tuscany. You might find a family who participates in the Slow Food gastrotourism program that appeals to you.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot recommend highly enough a side trip to Senigallia, Le Marche, when you are staying in Urbino. Just 70km away. Both higher-end (Madonnina del Pescatore, Uliassi) and lower-end (Aniko, Osteria del Teatro) restaurants there provided the best food I had during my trip to Italy this summer.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The road to Urbino is gorgeous, over a mountain pass....and it's about a solid hour of driving on switchbacks. Unless you have a really strong stomach....plan on eating when you get to Urbino! I can't recommend any specific place, but we always eaten very well just stumbling in to a trattoria. Eating seafood in le Marche is a real treat, as Tupac said, because here in Umbria, we eat MEAT!

Can't wait to see you!! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have this month's copy of Food and Wine, there is a complementary story about Salvatore Denali's Il Becco Felice in Foligno. Salvo is an event in himself. All surfaces of the place covered in grafitti. Wonderful local food and, of course, Sagrantino. Park at the RR station and ask anyone for directions.

Edited by DaleJ (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I cannot recommend highly enough a side trip to Senigallia, Le Marche, when you are staying in Urbino.  Just 70km away.  Both higher-end (Madonnina del Pescatore, Uliassi) and lower-end (Aniko, Osteria del Teatro) restaurants there provided the best food I had during my trip to Italy this summer.

Tupac, I think you sold me on Uliassi with that rave review you wrote. I want to be as happy as you were while eating there! :laugh: So I think we'll hit Senigallia before going to Urbino, it will be nice to get just one night on the coast.

Pontormo, we've never been to Umbria. I chose Preci as the place to stay for a week, beacuse it's near the Monti Sibillini (may spell this wrong, but am too lazy to look it up right now ) where we plan to do some hiking, and near Norcia, where we plan to eat lots of sausage :laugh:

My husband requested Urbino for the Palazzo Ducale.

Otherwise, because we've both been so very busy lately, we are trying not to plan too much. But Pontormo, you can always PM me with non-food recommendations for the area, I would appreciate it! And i'll check out the links you mentioned :smile:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Tupac, I think you sold me on Uliassi with that rave review you wrote. I want to be as happy as you were while eating there!  :laugh:  So I think we'll hit Senigallia before going to Urbino, it will be nice to get just one night on the coast.

Great, Chufi! Have a phenomenal time! I'll be eating vicariously through you. :laugh:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

We're back and we had a fabulous time! How can you not have a fabulous time, driving around Italy, eating pasta and icecream everyday?

So here´s my tripreport, it will take a few days to put it all up but let´s just call this the first installment... I did not take a picture of everything we ate, still there are lots of pics, many of them from plates of red-sauced pasta, what can I say, I wanted to try every ragu I met.. :biggrin: Also A could show you about 10 different pics of Dennis eating icecream but I´ll spare you that :biggrin:

Our itinerary: Pisa, Arezzo, Cortona, Preci (near Norcia), Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Senigallia, Urbino, Montone, Pisa!

I did not research this trip as well as I usually do, mainly because I was so busy with work until right before we left that I simply had no time. So most restaurants we ate we´re just places we wandered into because they looked nice, and I have to say we were rarely disappointed. Food was consistently good, sometimes great!

day 1

Pisa to Arezzo

We flew to Pisa, picked up our rental car and drove straight to Arezzo, having visited Pisa on a previous trip. Dennis had a few art-requests on his vacation wishlist and the Piero della Francesca fresci in Arezzo we´re one of them. We found a small hotel just around the corner from where the church is, and managed to be the first and only visitors to see the fresci next morning. This would be a frequent ocuurence the rest of the trip, mid september iks definitely a great time to travel in Italy: we had wonderful weather but it was very easy to find hotels, there weren´t many other touriasts, yet none of the restaurants (or gelataria´s - very important) seemed to have closed for the winter yet.

Our first meal in Italy was in ristorante Il Saraceno in Arezzo.




pici with duck ragu

After that Dennis had cinghiale (wild boar stew) with polenta and I had a roast rabbit which was good, but could have been better if it had been hot instead of lukewarm. :shock:

We also had what was probably the best icecream of the whole trip in Arezzo: the flavors were bomba di riso and pinenuts, and both were just wonderful.

Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 2

Arezzo to Preci, via Cortona

The next day we drove from Arezzo to Preci, where we had rented a little house for a week, but stopped in the beautiful town of Cortona for lunch. Ristorante Dardano:


Pici with duck for me again, ravioli al tartufo for Dennis, and a plate of what´s usually called ´verdure cotta´ on the menu, in this case it was tiny zucchini stewed in olive oil with tomatoes and garlic, served at room temp. Lovely.

On arriving in Preci we stopped at the tiny alimentari for some groceries´.


which turned into this


you can see we ate this at home, everything together on the plate :smile:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 3

trip to Norcia

The next day we visited Norcia, a 20 minute drive from Preci. Norcia is a beautiful city with a lovely piazza, surrounded by mountains. But mostly this is a sausage and truffles and cheese paradise. There are lots of shops selling all kinds of cured pork products, truffleproducts and cheeses. The whole town smells of salumi and cheese, a very appetising and intoxicating smell...


Norcia piazza






Yes those are giant truffles in that jar! We were in trufflecountry and ate a lot of the stuff, in various disguises. The truffles, I mean. The mysterious truffle continues to puzzle me though... but more about that later.

Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lunch in Norcia.

Baked risotto with truffles for Dennis


(don´t be fooled, the black stuff on top is mostly chopped mushrooms and olives)


zuppa di farro for me

We shared some lentils with sausage after that, the lentils being the famous lentils from nearby Castellucio. Very good but un-photogenic :smile: .

Ofcourse we bought sausages and cheese to bring back to the apartment: truffled sausage, deer sausage, 2 others I can´t remember, and some cinghiale ham


enjoy with a glass of Umbrian wine (Sagrantino di Montefalco) and watch the sun set over the Umbrian hills.. Life is good



[will be continued with days 4-18!]

Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my! The lighting, the salumi, the gnocci shot (I thought they were shrimp at first). Looking forward to more. Thank you for sharing.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 4

trip to Castelluccio and Monti Sibillini park

Castelluccio is a strange little town, high up in the mountains, remote and lonely. Guidebooks describe it as bleak and grim, we actually found it friendly and welcoming, there are a couple of nice bars and restaurants and some shops that sell salumi, cheeses, farro and ofcourse lentils. Because these are the (apparently fertile) plains where the famous Castellucio lentils are grown. The town is high up in the mountains, in an eerily beautiful landscape.


the town in the distance


shop in Castelluccio


lentils! I hope they payed this lady a small fortune fo being the lentil-model! :biggrin:

That night the lentils became this:


yes the sausages were a bit burned I blame the flimsy pans!

That day we had lunch in Visso, in Trattoria Richetta, here´s it´s interior:


In the back were about 4 tables, each with one customer, an older guy having a leisurely lunch by himself.. they were talking to eachother, talking to the waiter, and all seemed to be having a great time, yet they stayed at their own table..

As I took out my camera to take a picture of our pasta the waiter yelled at me from the other side of the room: Copyright!! :biggrin:

Then later he came over and seemed genuinely worried that I thought he was angry about me taking pictures, and kept saying I could take a thousand pictures if I wanted to.. he was very sweet. This was one of those unassuming little places that turn out to be just right. The same thing with my plate of pasta.. on the menu it was called Tagliatelle Matriciana Bianca, which sounded intriguing. When he put the plate in front of me I had a moment of disappointment because it looked so boring.. Until I started eating! Honestly this might be in the top 3 of things I ate on the trip. I guess it was just really good pasta and really good pancetta and a bit of really good oil.. and a pot of really good pecorino on the table to sprinkle over. it was so good!!


Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 5

hiking around Preci and a Big Dinner

This is the town of Preci where we were staying:


we went for a long hike in the hills around the town and all over the woods we saw these signs:


Some British people we met later told us that these areas are assigned to people in the community to go truffle hunting.. I wonder how it works though because the different areas did not seem to be assigned to specific people... another truffle mystery!

That evening we went to a restaurant in Preci, Ristorante Il Castoro. Famous for it´s truffle dishes, this place was packed (on a Friday night) with Italian families.. large groups of people, everything from toddlers to grannies.. a great atmosphere.

A couple of things we had..


ravioli al tartufo


their famous truffle frittata



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Though I never traveled in Umbria this brings back plenty of great memories from Tuscany. I love pici! Your photos are excellent and evocative, Klary. One of the things I really loved traveling there was the ease of the markets and cooking great ingredients. Each day we ate in one meal and out the other. Which one we ate where depended on what we were doing and where we were going.

I am looking forward to the rest.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 6

a hike, a lunch and lentil soup

Next day was another hike with a stop for lunch in nearby Castelvecchio. Ristorante Il Porcello Felice is part of a campsite/agriturismo complex, so there were some tourists there, but as it was Sunday also a large group of very well-groomed Italians.. we felt a bit underdressed with our hikingboots and sweaty t-shirts.. :biggrin:

This was delicious, bruschetta topped with mascarpone and some fresh sausage.


Trout is a specialty in this area, they get them from the Nera river but we also saw lots of trout farms. This one was simply baked with lemon and garlic.


I had a trout fillet with trufflesauce.

That evening I turned the leftover lentils into soup, and realized I had not really cooked them long enough the first time. After simmering them for another 30 minutes or so they were sublime!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 7

a trip to Spoleto

next day we drove to Spoleto. We had lunch at a little osteria mentioned in our Rough Guide, Osteria de Matto, just off the piazza del Mercato. We had a most excellent lunch there, but the place was very dark so I got just one slightly decent picture. There was no menu, lunch (for 14 euros) was a selection of antipasti, pasta, and we could have had dessert if we had not been too full to eat it! On the plate you see a rice salad with pine nuts and raisins, some delicious stracchino cheese, a wedge of aged pecorino, toasted bread with a garlicky mayonaise, and a very unusual but fantastic celery spread. This was like celerypesto, cheesy and garlicky but with a very pronounced celery flavor. I think it was pureed raw celery stalks, but how they got it so smooth I don´t know!


After that we had some roasted tomatoes and aubergines, and some pollo fritto.. really excellent nuggets of fried chicken, there were pieces of rosemary and sage in the very crisp batter and the chicken was very moist. After that a plate of simple pici with tomatosauce. The owner, Matto is a friendly and talkative guy, towards the end of lunch we were the only people in the restaurant and he talked to us for a while, his English was quite good which was a blessing since our Italian is so bad :smile: . His mother and sister are cooking all the dishes. I would have loved to go back there for dinner because this was one of the better meals we had ( in a series of great meals!)

For dinner, our last dinner in Preci, we went back to Il Porcello Felice because we had liked our lunch the previous day. We tried to have a light dinner after that big lunch in Spoleto but ended up with this


sausage pizza

and this


beef with truffle sauce :laugh:

next day we said goodbye to Preci. Some sweets for the road I bought in Norcia, very good biscotti and a sugary (but not too sweet) fennel cookie, does anyone know the Italian name for this, I´d love to try and bake these myself.


Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd like some of that truffle frittata...now! Eggs and truffles are one of the best combinations; beats peanut butter and jelly any day. :biggrin:

Your comment about the cooking time on the lentils strikes a chord with me. I get tricked over and over. They really are a little bitty lentils but they take f o r e v e r to cook! I read that if you add a bit of baking soda they will cook faster, but I haven't tried that.

I think I might have a recipe for the fennel cookie, or at least one that you can adapt. I'll dig around and see what I come up with.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

day 8

Ascoli Piceno

The next day we drove to Le Marche, to the city of Ascoli Piceno. By now we were leaving the boundaries given by our Tuscany/Umbria guidebook, which was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. Neither of us had ever heard of Ascoli Piceno but we were both very, very pleasantly surprised. On most trips there is a town/city like that - one that feels instantly like home, one you could imagine yourself living in, one that seems to fit you preferctly. All I can say is if you are ever in this area check out Ascoli Piceno! And no I´m not being paid by the AP tourist board :biggrin: Oh and there´s some pretty good food too.. for instance the famous Olive fritte all´ascolana, deepfried olives. They sell them in little stands on the street but unfortunately we did not get around to tasting some :sad:

It has the most beautiful piazza, with a ´floor´ of shiny stone that makes the whole piazza look like a giant ballroom.


also on this piazza is the Cafe Meletti, a beautiful Art Deco cafe famous for its´anisette liqueur Anisetta Meletti


we went back in the early evening for aperitivo, I had a Pink Meletti made with grapefruitjuice and the anisette. Lovely and dangerous :biggrin:


We were so taken by this town that we felt nothing could go wrong, so instead of taking lots of time to decide where to eat, we went to the restaurant next door to our hotel, Ristorante Cantine dell Arte.

The same ritual we experienced almost every night: we come in around 7:45, the place is empty. No restaurant looks good when it´s empty. But we are too tired and hungry to go anywhere else so we sit down anyway. Half an hour later, the place is packed! Actually a great way to start the evening.. you can pick a good table and then enjoy watching all the people coming in.

We chose this local wine, which was one of the best we had on the trip:


Spaghetti with capers and anchovies for Dennis


Penne with ragu for me


Thin and juicy slices of grilled veal



Roast potatoes, they look very plain but they were so good! The best roast potatoes ever. It must be the kind of potato, because as far as I could tell they were just roasted with some garlic, olive oil and rosemary.


excellent tiramisu.

All in all, this was, in all it´s simplicity, a perfect dinner. Everything was fresh and full of flavor. After dinner we wandered around town, which looks even prettier at night:


and into the Duomo, where they were holding a free organ concert. It was one of those moments when you suddenly know why it is that you travel (because let´s face it, sometimes traveling is just a big hassle and you can wonder why you did not save your euros and stayed home on the sofa :smile: ). You eat the food of another country, you drink the wine, you experience a whole different culture through food and drink. And then you walk around a beautiful city and you observe it as an outsider, yet you feel fully at home and not like a stranger at all. Must be the wine.. it really was a great wine!

Edited by Chufi (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

B]day 10


The next day we drove to Macerata, which had an entirely different (and less agreeable) atmosphere. It´s funny how each city you enter has it´s own vibe and feel.. ah well. The hotel in Macerata was better than in Ascoli Piceno, and even if there wasn´t much to do and see, Dennis got a haircut and I took a really long nap in the afternoon, and then we had a great dinner, which made everything right again :smile:

Osteria dei Fiori in Macerata. They describe themselves as a restaurant cooking ´creative and traditional Macerata dishes´.

Our wine


My starter, a traditional local sausage (soft and fatty and with a little tang, like headscheese, I tink (if i can trust my notes) that it´s called ciauscolo. Served with crostini spread with a garlicky kind of mint pesto, which worked very well with the fatty sausage.



Dennis had pappardelle made from farro, with chestnuts and porcini mushrooms.


after that I had pork fillet with vino cotto, and , oh joy, fresh borlotti beans! I´d never had these before :smile:


Dennis had roast rabbit, which turned out to be boned and stuffed, ´alla porchetta´ with lots of garlic and fennel. it was really good.


Roast radicchio with pancetta.

Dessert: Icecream with coffeesauce for Dennis and a beautiful, fresh from the oven pear cake for me.



A glass of vino cotto to finish. I´d never had this and was surpirsed, I thought it would be sweet, but it was actually quite sour


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chufi, I was enjoying your pictorial, and then.. "HEY! Look at that!" I met Silvio Meletti, here in the states, about 4 years ago! I loved the art work so much that he gave me a couple posters, and signed one, under his Grandfather's (Silvio too) name. I framed them and they hang on my wall. Great stuff! Love the Amaro as well! The "Pink Meletti" looks very refreshing, and that Piazza is stunning! Thanks for sharing.



Edited by Stevarino (log)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...