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 | Umbria in Vespa

It is nine years now that Umbria in Vespa rents out its scooters in Umbria. Claudia is the owner and she has a great passion for Vespas and for Italy. One day she decided to share her Vespa experiences and started her own scooter rental in Umbria.

Umbria in Vespa

Umbria in Vespa

Claudia was the first in Umbria to manage a professional scooter rental. Her head office is in San Feliciano, a small village along the Trasimeno Lake. Her second office is in Assisi.

It is important to her that her customers know how to drive a scooter, the function of the brakes and the sitting of the saddle. Her clients need to feel comfortable while driving the scooter.

She has no problems with speaking foreign languages. Claudia speaks Italian, English, Spanish, German and French fluently. It is possible to rent a scooter for one day, a few days or a week. When renting a scooter Claudia will give you the best advice where to go in Umbria and in Tuscany.

When you’re around in Umbria, you will recognize the yellow scooters of Umbria in Vespa. I never drove on a Vespa in Umbria, but I’d love to try. Especially during this time of the year with sunny weather and a hilly landscape with cipresses and sunflowers.  A real Italian experience!

Umbria in Vespa

Claudia loves to welcome you and together we hope to meet you soon!

Umbria in Vespa

For information: http://www.umbriainvespa.com
Cell phone Claudia +39 3474636423

Buon divertimento!

Umbria Blog | Wine tasting at Pucciarella

Umbria is the green heart of Italy and these green hills, the climate and the soil are excellent for making good wines. Abroad Umbrian wines are less known, which is a shame because the wines of this region are of high quality. In Umbria the Etruscans made wine two thousand years ago, but also the Romans in the 3rd century b.C. appreciated the wines.

Pucciarella vineyards

Merlot grapes

The most famous Umbrian wine is the white Orvieto, the Orvieto DOC and the Orvieto Classico DOC. The most interesting Umbrian red wines come from Torgiano and Montefalco. The founder of the Torgiano wines is the Lungarotti family. The red wine from Torgiano is mostly made of Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes.

In the Trasimeno area is cultivated the lesser known Gamay grape. Within a short distance from Perugia, Assisi and Cortona is the estate “azienda agricola Pucciarella” (300 m above sea level). From its hills one can see as far as Torgiano to one side and Lake Trasimeno to the other side. The vineyards of Pucciarella measure 80 hectares.

Winery Pucciarella

Azienda Agricola Pucciarella

winners Pucciarella

At Pucciarella different kinds of grapes are harvested, such as Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot and Sangiovese. They produce a characteristic Brut Spumante made by 100% Chardonnay grapes:”Chardonnay in purezza”, as well as a Brut Rosé of 100% Pinot nero grapes which is an elegant wine and very suitable for appetizers.

Pucciarella white wine

Colli del Trasimeno Bianco Scelto DOC

The red and white wines of Pucciarella are of high quality. The red wine Colli del Trasimeno DOC is made from only Cabernet grapes without any use of sulphites. This is quite exceptional. The wine gives an intense aroma of forest fruits, plums and spices. A harmonious wine good to combine with with pasta meals, red meat and old sheep cheese.

Pucciarella winners

Colli del Trasimeno Cabernet DOC

Pucciarella produces elegant wines thanks to the combination of exposure, soil characteristics, altitude and the low yield per vine. The wines have great character and are an excellent expression of the Umbrian terroir.

Cantina Pucciarella is opened daily. You can visit the winery without reservation and taste different kinds of wine. A nice experience and worth a visit when you are in Umbria.

Pucciarella vineyards