Umbria Blog | visiting Norcia

The last time I was in Norcia was in 2015 two years ago. On a warm summer day I made some pictures of this typical village in the mountains. The Cathedral of Saint Benedict, the square, the statue and the lovely delicacy shops always had a special place in my heart. Norcia is the birthplace of Saint Benedict and is associated with traditional gastronomic products: the black truffle and the “norcinerie” (cold cuts and cheeses).

Brancaleone da Norcia

Brancaleone da Norcia

Norcia, Castelluccio di Norcia and surrounding villages are damaged by the earthquake of October 2016. A large portion of the Cathedral of Saint Benedict on the main square collapsed. Only the facade is still proudly standing, now with scaffolding keeping it straight. Many shops are closed, the inhabitants live in containers and many buildings in the town centre cannot be accessed.

Main square Norcia

Cathedral Saint Benedict

Saint Benedict of Norcia

Saint Benedict

Recently I’ve read an article in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant titled “The green heart of Italy is longing for tourists: Umbria needs you”. This made me decide to go and see for myself what the effect of the earthquake is. It is true, this year isn’t easy for anybody in this area, but it is not dangerous to visit!

Norcia is situated about 150 km from the Trasimeno Lake where I live and from here Florence and Siena in Tuscany are closerby then Norcia. But also Norcia is in the province of Perugia, like Lake Trasimeno. And though the immediate area is certainly seriously damaged, the rest of Umbria is still normally accessible and without any damage.

On television, internet and in the newspapers you see pictures of the damages in Norcia and in Castelluccio di Norcia. But seeing it with your own eyes is rather confronting. When you walk in Norcia and you speak with the locals, it is impossible not feeling sorry and sad for what happened to this beautiful little town and its inhabitants.

As soon as I drove towards Norcia I saw the medieval walls and entrances protected with scaffolding. I parked my car outside the walls where one normally pays. I asked in a “rebuild” tabacchaio where I could find the parking meter. The answer to my question was confronting: “After the earthquake all the parking places are for free”.

Norcia is almost a ghost town. The streets are empty, many shops are closed, houses are uninhabited and many banks are closed. The police supervises the buildings and empty houses.

In a small shop at the corner of the small theater square I spoke with Antonio. Brancaleone da Norcia is a real “norcineria” where you can buy (also online) delicious ham, cold cuts, sausages and sheep cheese. Antonio is grandfather and has family living in Perugia. “After the earthquake much less tourists come to Norcia”, Antonio told me. He was in Norcia during the earthquake.

Brancaleone di Norcia

Antonio and Sylvia

norcineria in Norcia

Norcia city centre

La Locanda del Teatro is a restaurant on the same square. Antonio accompanied me to Francesco, the owner of the restaurant. “Before the earthquake it was always busy with peope, but look now”, Francesco told me. “Norcia has changed, and we suffer a lot. Hotels are closed and many people stay away”.

Together with some bars, shops and another restaurant Francesco continues his activity in Norcia. After October 30st, the day of the earthquake,  the habitants couldn’t go back into their houses, also Francesco. Last winter he slept in a caravan with his colleagues. Now they’ve found a small apartment where they live together and continue with the work in the restaurant. They want to give Norcia a future. La Locanda del Teatro is from Francesco’s family already for generations. His family has invested in this place and he doesn’t want to give up. He wants to rebuild Norcia.

It was heartbreaking hearing Francesco’s stories. He loves Norcia and his restaurant where he grew up. You taste his love and passion in his food. I’ve had a wonderful lunch, the pasta with truffle was outstanding, like the delicious ham and dessert. I’ll return here for sure.

Restaurant in Norcia

La Locanda del Teatro Restaurant in Norcia

Address of the restaurant:
La Locanda del Teatro
Piazza Vittorio Veneto 10
06046 Norcia (PG)
Umbrië, Italië
Tel: +39 (0) 743 817857

Umbria Blog | Pizzeria Calandrino in Castiglione del Lago

Marco comes from Rome and since this summer season he works as a waiter in pizzeria – osteria Calandrino in the centre of Castiglione del Lago. My apartment is situated just above this restaurant. When passing by the good smells stimulate your appetite  but in the four years I live here, I have never eaten in this restaurant… until today.

The cook is from Sicily and knows very well how to prepare the best fish, truffle and local meat dishes. His name is Rosario, a classic Sicilian name. Marco instead is a normal name you frequently hear in Italy. I have never had a real chat with him. He once helped me carrying the water bottles I had bought in the supermarket like a real gentlemen.

Restaurant Calandrino Castiglione del Lago

Today I decided to have lunch in Calandrino. I took a first course “linguine allo scoglio” with a good glass of Umbrian white wine, a Grechetto. Linguine looks like thick spaghetti which is good to combine with fish. On the terrace there were more people enjoying their Italian lunch. It is also possible to have pizza for lunch, but not for me: an Italian eats pizza for dinner, never for lunch.

Restaurant Calandrino Castiglione del Lago

Marco told me his story how he got in Castiglione del Lago. He is a “Romano”, but he lived for many years in London. He travelled around the world with his partner, but decided to return to Italy this spring. He missed his home, the sweat life in Italy “La Dolce Vita”.

I know Rosario ever since I live in Castiglione del Lago and now I finally tasted his pasta: I can recommend this restaurant to everybody. The smells coming from the restaurant are compatable with the dishes he prepares. Delicious! Calandrino is a nice and cosy osteria-pizzeria for those who love eating fish or other local dishes on an outside terrace in one of the most wonderful villages along the Trasimeno Lake, Castiglione del Lago.

Osteria Pizzeria Calandrino
Via Vittorio Emanuele 107
Tel. +39 (0) 75  9653101
Castiglione del Lago (PG)

Restaurant Calandrino Castiglione del Lago

Umbria Blog | Restaurant Pizzeria La Serra

Everybody knows “pizza”. Maybe it is the most famous Italian dish in the world. Italians themselves love eating pizza. On every corner of the street you can get a slice, a “pizza al taglio”. The toppings on the pizza vary from fish to meat, from fresh fruit to only vegetables.

laserrapizzeria1

La Serra is a restaurant-pizzeria outside the city centre of Perugia. La Serra literally means greenhouse. It used to be a greenhouse: nowadays the restaurant has a long and narrow structure and is very large serving many guests. At the entrance are large craft beer brewers, though they do not seem to be in use. The restaurant does serve some special beers, though.

Often the restaurant is crowded with mainly local people. La Serra is not known by tourists because of its location outside the historical centre of Perugia. It is close to the football stadion.

Coming here for the first time you’ll be surprised by the size of the pizza. One pizza takes two plates to serve! It is hard to imagine finishing this mega pizza, but no worries. Within minutes you’ll finish the first half. It is a very thin pizza and not difficult to digest. You’ll love it!

The menu of the mega pizza is variable. On the placemat menu is a list of the “Super Mega Pizza Speciale”. But the menu also offers classics like the Pizza Margherita or the Pizza 4 Formaggi. For children there is a “baby pizza” which has the normal pizza size. If you don’t feel like having a mega pizza, the restaurant also offers good pasta and meat dishes.

laserrapizzeria2

If you really can’t get to the end of your pizza, you can ask a take away pizza box. Don’t hesitate to ask for a box, many people do!

Address :
Pizzeria La Serra
Viale dell’Ingegniera 35, 06125 Perugia
Tel. +39(0)75-5058672

Buon appetito!

laserrapizzeria3