The Faces & Places of Umbria ...............................
DAY TO DAY ITINERARY
Arrive at Rome Fiumicino airport. You will be met at the airport and taken to Assisi. Settle into the hotel - an elegant hotel that is located in a magnificent medieval building within the walls of the city (a true privilege). Before dinner, Anne will give a talk about Umbria and its people and will set the stage for an exciting week in Assisi and the region. Dinner will be together in a local restaurant.
Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Day Three - ASSISI
Our week begins with a tour of Assisi, justly acclaimed "crown jewel of the medieval hill towns". Our morning will focus on the city's rich historical and artistic heritage and will include contact with its people for a look at its modern day life and history. Visit the stunning three level Romanesque/Gothic Basilica of Saint Francis. Our walk through the town will also include stops to meet and talk with local artisans: painters, sculptors, young craftsmen of maiolica, a bookbinder and many more. Then onto the main piazza of Assisi which is graced by its medieval bell tower, elegant civic buildings of the 13th and 14th centuries as well as a 1st c. BC Temple of Minerva. After a break for lunch continue on to the Hermitage, the 15th c. Franciscan monastery set in hundreds of acres of live oaks and built over the site of the grottoes where Francis and his followers withdrew for periods of prayer and meditation. A truly spiritual place. In the evening we have a different sort of spiritual experience when we dine at Giovanino's. Here we will sample some of the true Umbrian cuisine accompanied by a mini cooking demonstration. Buon apetito!
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
Day Four- PERUGIA/DERUTA
A short drive takes you to the elegant city of Perugia. Begin with a visit to the 16th c. Papal fortress, built over the medieval quarter of the city and incorporating one of the Etruscan city gates. Walk along the main Corso, lined with elegant shops, on the way to visit the frescoed guild hall that was decorated by noted artist Perugino (teacher of Raphael) and his school. Take a cappuccino break at Umberto's café, the best in town! Continue on to the main square and then taste Perugia's famed chocolate at the city's most famous chocolatier.
Leave the city and head to the farm of Giuseppa and Paolo who live in the countryside outside of Deruta. All the food that you sample at this country feast is produced on their farm - this is what it truly means to be a "locavore"! With bellies full and hearts warm bid arrivederci to Giuseppa and Paolo and head on to Deruta, the city of ceramics, to observe the all the phases of maiolica production in a family-run industry. The day concludes with a visit to an extraordinary shrine of maiolica folk art hidden away in the outskirts of Deruta. Dinner is on your own this day (though you might not even need it!)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY FIVE - Cooking Class
Get a real flavor for Umbrian cuisine from the beginning. Join Anne for market shopping for the ingredients for today's country lunch. Back at her farmhouse, Anne will teach you some of the secrets of Umbrian cooking and while you chop, dice and stir she will regale you with fascinating tales of life in rural Italy. The afternoon is free to continue your exploration of Assisi, to indulge in a spa treatment or to sit at a neighborhood café, sip a cappuccino and watch the world go by - ahhh...la dolce vita! Dinner on your own this evening.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY SIX - BEVAGNA
Depart in vans from Assisi to the fabulous, largely undiscovered town of Bevagna. This tour takes in not only the Roman mosaics and an exquisite gem of a 19th c. theater but also includes stops at the local tailor and a family-run butcher shop. We will taste some specialties and then move on to try those of the local pasticceria (bakery). After we have sampled the local fare, step into the remains of the 1st c. AD Roman amphitheater. This day is a full immersion into the medieval history that left such an indelible mark on this region. It culminates in our last stop - a visit to a recreated merchant's home of the Middle Ages. Free time in the afternoon.
Meals included: Breakfast
DAY SEVEN - GUBBIO
In less than an hour we arrive in Gubbio. Our feast for the senses starts right from the beginning of the day as our route takes us off the beaten track and through a stretch of the most stunning landscapes of Umbria. Once in Gubbio, time seems to have quite literally stopped in the Middle Ages - one feels in a world apart from the modern day. Walk through the labyrinth of medieval backstreets to the imposing 14th c. Palazzo dei Consoli, said to rival Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in its beauty. Along the way stop to observe two fine young artisans at work. Acclaimed as two of the most gifted ceramicists in Italy, their gold-incised black bucchero (Etruscan technique ceramics) astounds. We will stop for lunch together at a local trattoria before returning to Assisi in the late afternoon.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY EIGHT - SPELLO
A walk through Spello is a feast for the eye: cobblestone passageways open ino intimate closed piazzettas and lead to Roman arches, Romanesque churches, a wooden loggia or a frescoed courtyard. Our tour today will take in one of the most splendid Renaissance fresco cycles in Umbria, painted by Pinturricchio. We will also have a special visit with a most unique local friar/craftsman who will also show us a 13 c. cloister and refectory not open to the public. Our day will end in a medieval wine cellar for a tasting of Umbria's best wines, prize-winning olive oils and various Umbrian delicacies which range from white truffle/almond patè to wild boar salami. Our host: one of Umbria's top sommeliers. Return to Assisi after lunch where you can sleep off the feast our explore the town on your own.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
DAY NINE - ORVIETO
Orvieto is the perfect choice for your final day in Umbria. Perched on a volcanic tufa-rock plateau, Orvieto is a spectacular blend of historic periods dating back to the Etruscans, likely its first inhabitants. Take the funicular up the plateau to the city center. Visit a local artisan and wander the backstreets as you admire the characteristic maiolica orvietana while making your way to the 13th c. municipal palace. Lunch on your own at one of the city's many charming eateries (suggestions provided). Your tour continues after lunch in the magnificent Gothic Duomo which houses the famous Renaissance fresco cycle of Luca Signorelli as well as a most precious relic and other extraordinary masterpieces. Return to Assisi in the late afternoon. Gather again for dinner in Assisi - good friends, good food and good wine - a fitting end to a journey through this remarkable region!
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
DAY TEN - Departure