It’s always great, when somebody takes you by the hand showing you the hidden places of his home town. That’s what happened to me when I was invited to Umbria, the heart of Italy.
I’m Italian. I live in Italy and I know where Umbria is, but actually never thought of going there. I’ve been many times to Tuscany. So, I was expecting a similar experience. After all, Tuscany and Umbria are neighbours.
Umbria is unlike anywhere else. And by the way, never ever compare Umbria to Tuscany. The Umbrian get very angry about that. And I do understand that now.
The most popular destinations in Umbria are Assisi, a world famous Christian pilgrim site and Perugia, famous for its recent criminal history (see the murder of Meredith Kercher). But is there anywhere else in Umbria you should know about?
Personally, I’ve never heard about Spello. From the highway, it looked pretty similar to many other old villages I’ve passed. I mean, Italy is full of them.
However, there were three things that impressed me most about Spello.
Firstly, entering the city from one of the incredibly well preserved, three roman stone archeways really brings you back in time. Fascinating.
Secondly, having a chat with the locals. Spello is a medieval town with many grey stone buildings. Old and alive: more than 8.500 people live here, I’ve been told, representing the soul of Spello. Warmly welcoming soul. From a few “buonasera” greetings and I was quickly involved in a chat with a father and his kids. The bulletin board at the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is a great testimonial for the community in the area- displaying news about marriages, baptism and catechism. Spello teems with life.
Thirdly, having dinner on the terrace of il Ristorante La Bastiglia. It’s a place with a great view of Spello’s backyard. The restaurant serves a modern interpretation of Umbrian traditional cuisine. That’s where I discovered one of my favourite red wines ever: the Sagrantino di Montefalco.
After Spello, I’ve visited more fascinating places like Gubbio, Perugia and Spoleto. Only the time factor prevented me from more extensive tours. I would have loved to have visited Bevagna, a place voted ‘the most fascinating village of hidden Italy’ by I Borghi più Belli d’Italia.
But my next stop wasn’t so bad. For wine lovers, it’s a must. Wine tasting at Arnaldo Caprai Winery in Montefalco. Exactly, that’s where the red wine I drank and loved so much – Sagrantino di Montefalco – comes from.
I will talk more about this in my next post about Umbria.
About the Author:
Michele Aggiato is passionate about human relations, travel and food. You can find him tweeting in Italian, English and German on twitter and on his blog http://micheleaggiato.tumblr.com.