Umbria Blog | a yearly market in Todi “San Martino”

The medieval town of Todi is situated on top of a hill overlooking the surrounding green hills.  Except for the 16th Century Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione, the musea, the cosy squares and the old houses are almost all inside the antique city walls.

Todi Umbria

Quite a few activities and events are organised in Todi, like the yearly market on November 11th, Saint Martin’s day. From the Piazzale della Consolazione up to the Piazza del Popolo there are more than 200 market stalls with porchetta sandwiches, dried ham, sheep cheeses, kitchen utensils, shoes, clothes, garlic, unions and much more. The atmosphere is very relaxed and cosy.

Todi Umbria

Todi Umbria

Todi Umbria

Todi Umbria

The terraces are full with locals enjoying the autumn sun accompanied by a glass of red wine or a Spritz. Families come together and stroll along the market stalls and shops.

Todi Umbria

This market is only once a year on the 11th of November, the day of San Martino. I have asked people what San Martino means and why it is celebrated on that day, thinking it was linked to the start of the Carnival season. San Martino is one of the patron saints of the town of Todi.

Saint Martin lived in the 4th century and after having been a soldier for many years he turned to Christianity and founded an abbey in France where he became the bishop of Tours. He was buried on November the 11th in the year 397.

All over Italy on this day there are local activities celebrating the last days of relative warmth before the start of winter, it is the end of the harvest season, the new wine is celebrated, as well as the new olive oil.

November may not be your first choice to travel to Italy but autumn does have its unique charms. It is the period of the new olive oil, wine, chestnuts, dried fruit and clementines. On every corner of the street one finds somebody selling warm chestnuts often with the new ‘novello’ wine. With the warm autumn sun that gives the landscape unique colours it is great to enjoy all these local delicacies.

Todi Umbria

Umbria Blog | Biking along the Trasimeno Lake

August 15 is a bank holiday in Italy: Ferragosto. This national holiday celebrates the Assumption of the virgin Mary into heaven, the day when Catholics believe that God took the body of Jesus’ mother Mary into heaven to reunite with her son.

August is the traditional period for Italians to have their summer holidays. On August 15 many Italians go out for a picknick in a park or a barbecue in the garden. And many Italians make trips to the seaside or in the mountains to cool off.

This year on August 15 we decided to make a bike tour along the Trasimeno Lake with some friends. In the early morning we prepared our lunch and we started at 10.30 am with our mountainbike tour in Magione, Perugia.

Lago Trasimeno

Castiglione del Lago

Lago Trasimeno

Sant Arcangelo

From Magione we headed for Sant’Arcangelo, Castiglione del Lago and Tuoro sul Trasimeno. The cycle paths between Castiglione del Lago and Borghetto are a bit bumpy and narrow, but it was easy to pass by. Along the lake in Tuoro sul Trasimeno we found a wonderful picknick area for our small lunch.

After our picknick in Tuoro sul Trasimeno we headed for Passignano sul Trasimeno. Passignano is a lovely village along the lake. In the centre we found a small fountain where we filled our water bidon. The temperatures were about 30 degrees and biking without any drinks is not recommended. We needed fuel to continue. From Passignano we cycled to San Feliciano where it was crowded with people.

San Feliciano is only a few kilometres away from Magione where we parked our car. But, before getting there we had to make a huge climb to San Savino. San Savino is a small hill town along the lake.

The last kilomteres were only down hill to Magione. What a relief!

Bike Tour Lago Trasimeno

Lago Trasimeno

This cycle tour along the Trasimeno Lake is fantastic and is suitable for adults and for trained cyclists. The trail around the lake is quite flat and the total distance is about 70 km. A mountainbike is recommended. The path along the lake is fairly new and has been made especially for cyclists and tourists in Italy.

The picknick areas along the lake are wonderful. You do not need to get there by bike, but also on feet from Tuoro sul Trasimeno you’ll get there quite easily.

A  sportive activity to discover in Umbria I really enjoyed!

Lago Trasimeno Umbria

Tuoro sul Trasimeno

Bike tour Trasimeno Lake : https://www.relive.cc/view/g13576447743

https://connect.garmin.com/course/embed/16130632

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