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Ten days in Italy in July - where to for good food


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Hi All,

My wife and I have about 10 days vacation in July, which we plan to spend in Italy. I have a conference in Tuscany, and since we'll be flying there anyway, it seemed like a great excuse. It's also our first vacation without our 19-month old twins - so we need to have some fun!

Our main goal is to try and find good food and wine. Also, we'd like to stay out of the cities, mostly. We've both spent some limited time in Florence and Rome, and love them, but would like to stay somewhere more rural, hopefully with good access to towns big enough to have good restaurants and markets (we'll have a car).

My original plan was to spend the time in a rural hotel in Emilia-Romagna, we picked out a fancy castle type place about 40 minutes north-west of Parma. But now I'm wondering if we'd be missing out by skipping Tuscany, or whether there'd be somewhere else to go where we could have more good food and wine experiences. I'm thinking that I really want to drink good wine, and Emilia-Romagna isn't really known for wine. Having said that, I'm sure good Italian wine is all over the place and so maybe we should be directed by the food?

Does anyone have suggestions/fantasy trips? If you had ten days to eat and drink and relax in Italy (north of Rome), where would you do it? Any specific places people have stayed that were rural and relaxing, but accessible for good food adventures?

- jeff

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Sounds like a trip to Piemonte to me. Great wine, great food. You can stay out of the cities as you'd like and eat very, very well. Other eGullet members will be better equipped to suggest specific towns/areas in Piemonte, but really you cannot go wrong.

Granted, it's not exactly close to your conference in Tuscany. But that is what I would do.

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I've spent several happy vacation weeks in central Umbria (Sagrantinoland). Within a small area are: Perugia, Foligno, Assisi, Spello, Trevi, Montefalco, Bevagna, Spoleto and, of course, Norcia.

I can offer specifics if you're interested.

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Food and wine are everywhere.

Go to the library and /or buy a few guide books and see what catches your fancy. Tuscany has some lovely islands to explore.

I'm partial to Umbria.

But, it's your fantasy....you'll find good food and wine. No worries there.

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Hi All,

Any specific places people have stayed that were rural and relaxing, but accessible for good food adventures?

- jeff

I would highly recommend Trentino. Nature is fantastic and as rural as it gets. In the Trento province itself there are several excellent and well-priced choices, from starred restaurants to simple trattorias. And Trento is one hour from Verona or from the Lombardy part of Lake Garda, both places where great food adventures can be had. I normally don't advertise here but the choices are too numerous to list in a post, so if you wish you may look here for suggestions. Ultimately though I agree with Hathor that you'll be happy in many places, Umbria most certainly one of them.

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Hi All,

Thanks for the suggestions. I had considered Piedmont as well, because I can't afford to drink Piedmontese wine here, but am leaning towards somewhere more central. Umbria is a great idea - I'll do some research on this area now. Has anyone had any good/bad experiences on food adventures in Umbria?

Thanks again,

jeff

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Think again. If you really mean what you say about seeking food first, at least a few days in Piemonte is the hands down choice, especially in July when all you will see in Tuscany and Umbria are Americans (I'm one too, but I recognize our limitations). If you scan this board, you will find restaurants to fill up lunches and dinners for a week and if you don't have more than a few days, you will agonize over the choices.

Stay at the Castello di Villa near Isola d'Asti and wander from vinyard to vinyard to work up an appetite. For plenty of diversion, spend a morning or two in Alba visiting the market (Saturday) and the fabulous wine shops and food stores. Were I you, I would plan meals at Antica Corona in Cervere, I Bologna in Rochetta Tanaro, Il Centro in Priocca, Tre Stelle in Barbaresco and Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d'Alba. Or try one of several terrific places in Acqui Terme (having trouble pulling the names up, but see earlier posts under my name) or the new Guido in Pollenzo. If you get bored, the Lake Country is just 90 minutes away.

Have a great trip!

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I've spent several happy vacation weeks in central Umbria (Sagrantinoland).  Within a small area are: Perugia, Foligno, Assisi, Spello, Trevi, Montefalco, Bevagna, Spoleto and, of course, Norcia.

I can offer specifics if you're interested.

On behalf of some friends who are starting their trip in Tuscany and then spending a few days in Umbria, I'd love specifics if you're offering. Thanks. (The Umbria part was my suggestion, but I haven't been back there in a good 30 years, so my recommendations would be pretty out of date.)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Can I mention the weather ????

Chances are it will be horribly hot!

Are you looking for somewhere to base yourself then tour from?

I think it is hard to find bad food anywhere in Italy, and prefer mamma food to star chef food mostly with a break now and then for something refined.

Since I live here and cook for a profession I am rather blessed.

In summer most families from Torino area head down to the Italian Riviera for family vacations at the sea.

Most Italian families stay at hotels with mezza pensione, meals included, so cheap you can't refuse, but not fabulous food!

are you planning on eating out daily with the kids?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Not to avail yourself of seafood on the Tuscan coast would be a big oversight. Fish is to me the cornerstone of gastronomy, what separates the poseurs from those who cook and purvey with heart and sole. All of which brings me back to my man Lorenzo in Forte dei Marmi. Search the site and read what I have written more than once about it. But even seafood trattori/osteri of a humble nature can be memorable, and for addresses, you must buy "Osteri d'Italia", the Slow Food people's guide to inexpensive restaurants of local tradition. Don't travel without a copy. As for inland Tuscany, it may be good for certain cooking products and some good restaurants, but unless you splurge in a few places outside of Florence (Tenda Rossa, Arnolfo), the repetitive restaurant food can get tiresome rather quickly if you don't do your gastronomic research.

I second the establishments in Piemonte that Peter mentions. Castello di Villa above Isola d'Asti is our favorite hotel. If you want to splurge, ask for rooms 1 or 2. Renzo/Antica Corona Reale has always been the class of the field for us in Piemonte, but I've never tried it outside of truffle time, and a couple of disappointments have seeped in from vmilor and one or two others. Enoteca in Canale is moving up rather quickly. We like this one a lot.

Edited by robert brown (log)
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Can I mention the weather ????

Chances are it will be horribly hot!

Are you looking for somewhere to base yourself then tour from?

I think it is hard to find bad food anywhere in Italy, and prefer mamma food to star chef food mostly with a break now and then for something refined.

Since I live here and cook for a profession I am rather blessed.

In summer most families from Torino area head down to the Italian Riviera for family vacations at the sea.

Most Italian families stay at hotels with mezza pensione, meals included, so cheap you can't refuse, but not fabulous food!

are you planning on eating out daily with the kids?

Thanks for your thoughts - I too was a little worried about the heat. We'll be without the kids, so traveling will be a little easier - though cute babies are good for breaking down the language barrier, so we'll miss that.

Work circumstances have dictated that we'll probably end up in Orvieto - or at least in that neighborhood. I've looked at several guide books which don't look so useful for food. Every time I pick up a guide book I flip to the food section and am turned off. Luckily, I have Egullet! The replies have been helpful, and I've gotten into some older threads on Umbrian travel, which make me excited.

Thanks to the reply down thread, I'll be sure to grab a copy of Osteri d'Italia.

jeff

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Sorry....seems I've been asleep at the Umbrian wheel. My apologies.

Jeff, when you have more of an itinerary, when you know what towns you are heading to in Umbria, please let me know. Our favorite restaurant in Orvieto is I Sette Consoli.

Be sure to sit in the magical garden.

Plan on a stop in Perugia if you can....it's just a lovely, small city. And of course, if you are heading further north, there is always ....Montone.... :biggrin:

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I suppose we have visited Umbria six or eight times in the past ten years, but mostly in the Bevagna area. So my experiences aare in and around that little town.

In Bavagna I can recommend Enoteca Piazza Onofri in the center of town. Good local food and wine. At the south gate of town is Ottavio, another dependable place.

In Foligno, a somewhat difficult town to negotiate, there is Il Becco Felicio, featured in Food and Wine mag several months ago. Salvatore is an event all by himself. Lots of what he serves comes from his garden and there is not a square foot of wall surface ungraffitied. Park near the train station and ask anyone for directions. It is a local institution.

At the top of nearby Spello is La Bastiglia, a hotel with an adventurous kitchen, a good wine selection and a big parking lot.

Just south of Trevi on the road to Spoleto isTaverna del Pescatore. It is just off the road on your right going south. There is but one little sign on the road. Good food, wine and service and a wonderful outdoor setting.

Finally, I Sette Consoli in Orvieto is my favorite restaurant in all of Italy. (Have not been to Montone is several years.)

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Thanks for your thoughts - I too was a little worried about the heat. We'll be without the kids, so traveling will be a little easier - though cute babies are good for breaking down the language barrier, so we'll miss that.

Work circumstances have dictated that we'll probably end up in Orvieto - or at least in that neighborhood. I've looked at several guide books which don't look so useful for food. Every time I pick up a guide book I flip to the food section and am turned off. Luckily, I have Egullet! The replies have been helpful, and I've gotten into some older threads on Umbrian travel, which make me excited.

Thanks to the reply down thread, I'll be sure to grab a copy of Osteri d'Italia.

jeff

Whether a bit far from Orvieto, if you're fond of extra-virgin olive-oil, Jeff, visit the "Frantoio Marfuga" at Campello del Clitumno, close to Trevi and to Montefalco, very famous for its renowned local wine, the Sagrantino. Mr. Ettore was a very gentle guy who toured me around his olive-groves and his oil-mill.

Try the "Affiorante" and a local trattoria where the best dish was the roasted pigeon...

Other remarkable spots, apart of the classics, the old middle-age burghs like Acquapendente, Ficulle, Acquasparta, Bagnoregio.

Don't miss Viterbo and if you plan a getaway to Tuscany the city of Arezzo, with the Piero della Francesca's frescoes in San Francesco Church, dedicated to the "Holy Cross Legend" and the outstanding "Resurrection" of Sansepolcro.

But next time, consider Piemonte as unusual but very interesting destination, preferably in Fall, when weather is sweeter and the climate ideal to enjoy the pleasures of the table: I live there and can take you for granted it's a worthy trip!

"Mi dispiace - esclamò un Italiano - che non sia peccato bere l'acqua: come sarebbe gustoso!" - "It's a shame -said an Italian- that drinking water isn't a sin: such a delight it should be!"

(G.C. Lichtenberg)

www.buongustotours.com

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  • 8 months later...
In Foligno, a somewhat difficult town to negotiate [emphasis added], there is Il Becco Felicio, featured in Food and Wine mag several months ago.  Salvatore is an event all by himself.  Lots of what he serves comes from his garden and there is not a square foot of wall surface ungraffitied.  Park near the train station and ask anyone for directions.  It is a local institution.

Dale is too kind: Foligno is hellishly difficult to negotiate. This little backwater is poorly planned, poorly signed, and has a grid managed by a roadworks department that has too much money and too little brains. Returning to Marche from Rome this evening, and having been turned away by Moreno at Taverna dal Pescatore at 7:35 for being too early (silly me, having patted myself on the back for finding it in the dark), I remembered Dale's recommendation of a place near the Foligno train station. "Let's just jump of at Foligno, navigate down to the train station, and see what's what," I said to Kate. 30 minutes of back-and-forth, loop-de-loop, "but it said this way for stazione" as we're being shunted off a rotary in a barriered lane for something like the fourth time, we found the train station. What with cold, aggravation, and hunger, we weren't feeling too adventurous, and I hoped that the "Alexander" or whatever name it was trattoria across the street was what Dale had recommended. The prices were certainly great. But after ten minutes of waiting along with four other 2-tops just to get the waitress's attention, we split. Back at the train station, we asked for a recommendation. Barmaid points across the street. "Yeah, but don't have two hours for dinner, though," I said. "Well, you need at least an hour to eat." Right. Any other suggestions? She just shook her head, and we headed for home. After a couple of more circles about the center, we spotted a döner place and popped in for an enjoyable sandwich and a beer.
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Just to add another idea you may want to look into the area south of L`Aquilla in Abruzzo. We stay in Scanno or Pescoscostanzo http://www.abruzzo2000.com/abruzzo/laquila/index.html where it is cool and dreamy. The area is mostly a ski resort type of area so it is pretty quiet in summer. Although more and more Italians are taking holidays there in summer nowadays.

Both towns have great restaurants, are in beautiful areas and can afford day trips to either the coast (east coast) or back towards Umbria. Norcia, Assisi or Spoleto are all close enough to visit. Amatrice in Abruzzo is the birthplace of Amarticina Pasta and worth visiting. Get yourself the Slow Food Locanda Ostrie guide. While dinning in a special little place ask about local cheese or salumi producers they may know or like. Check with tourist offices or Pro Loco shops that specialize in local products. Get a good GPS and travel back roads. I can make some specific rec's if you like.

For wine in Abruzzo they make great reds. In Tuscany visit Montalcino which is lovely town and drink Brunello or even Rosso di Montalcino. I stay with a friend who now runs an agritourismo I can send you details if you like. He makes great wine but it is not widely distributed.

Others have warned but I will reiterate about the potential for HEAT. I have been in Norcia or Bevagna when it was well over 100 degrees in June let alone July. The heat of southern Europe can be oppressive and dangerous. Plan activities for early morning and evening time. Plan to relax and bake after lunch, during siesta and until 6:00 PM or so. The great thing about that time of year is the daylight extends until after 9:00 PM or so.

If heading North is your choice then certainly try to visit the area near Parma - Modena - Emillia. It is not as rural or pastural as other parts of Italy but the food is some of the best. You will be in the heart of Parmesan cheese land and more divine yet is the heart (really the only) of the Culatello production world. Piedmont is of course the center of fine wine for Italy and one of the great wine areas of the world. Needless to say there is no shortage of fine dinning establishments as well.

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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