THERESE'S ADVENTURES IN ITALY: EATING IN UMBRIA

Rolling hills of the Italian countryside

 The other day I was in my kitchen flipping the reeds of my Toscana diffuser, and the bold notes of tomato leaf and green fig instantly transported me back to Umbria, a region in central Italy where my family and I spent a month this summer. Toscana's culinary-forward notes are a delightful reminder of the special time spent preparing and savoring long and joyful meals with my family while being surrounded by the Italian countryside.

Family gathered around a big wooden table eating dinner outdoors

 Since I hadn’t been to Italy for over 20 years, finding all my favorite foods was a top priority! From shopping for food to discovering what quickly became our favorite trattoria, I was determined to enjoy deliciousness all trip long in a country known for its culinary delights. Below, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Italian eats and treats from breakfast to dinner. Buon appetito!

Woman pulling a grocery basket through an Italian supermarket

1. La Colazione ("Breakfast")

My first stop the morning after we arrived was getting a cappuccino and cornetto. While I couldn’t wait to taste the delicious cappuccino with the creamy steamed milk and marmalade-filled cornetto (the Italian version of a croissant), I was just as excited to witness the Italians'’ “la colazione” custom they do so well. Rushing to work, they take maybe 5 minutes to chit-chat with their neighbor while standing up at the neighborhood bar, slurping down an espresso and scarfing down a cornetto before rushing out the door to work. Italians never sit when having their morning espresso, so take note if you don’t want to stand out as a tourist in Italy. 

 

Cup of cappuccino and a cornetto on a service counter

Glass bakery case full of various flavors of cornettos

2. Salami

Finding a salumeria was second on my list after finding a fave spot for cappucini. I’m a big fan of any Italian-cured salami, but Corallina, from Umbria, is one of my faves. Reading the handwritten descriptions of the different varieties was almost as joy-filled as eating the salami itself!

 

Outside of a salumeria in Italy

Various types of salami in a glass case

 3. Porchetta

Like the carefully cured salami, Umbria is also known for their pork butchery, particularly porchetta - a boneless pork loin well-seasoned and then roasted in a wood oven. And while you can get porchetta throughout Italy, the Umbrian version with garlic and wild fennel is my favorite. We tried the sandwich at many different shops, eventually finding our favorite at a family run gastronomia in Todi.




4. Crostini Misti

On days when we hung out at the villa and enjoyed the pool and amazing view, I’d often whip up a plate of crostini using leftover grilled veggies, tomatoes, a spicy pepperonata and more salami, of course! And always olives too!

Plate of veggie-topped crostini next to a pool

5. Pizza Alla Diavola

Pizza was #1 on my hubby’s “foods to eat in Italy” list, and we found an awesome pizzeria in Perugia that made for the perfect end to our days exploring, what we all agreed, was our favorite city of the trip. Ry loved the pizza alla diavola – which means the “devil's pizza” because of the spicy salami and hot peppers! And, while I've tried many different pizzas, my fave is still a classic margherita topped with fresh rucola and finished with a drizzle of olio piccante (spicy olive oil).

Pizza topped with peppers and salami
Pizza topped with greens

6. Fiori Di Zucca Fritti

One dish I really wanted to make was fried zucchini flowers, as I knew they’d be in season when we visited. I’d made them once in the states and was determined to try them again in Italy.
We lucked out at our local grocery store one morning. A local woman had just dropped off fresh zucchini with their flowers from her garden! Roberta, the storekeeper I’d become friendly with, determinedly explained exactly how I should make them, even saying to me “they are difficult to make, good luck!”. I followed her instructions with success, and we devoured them freshly fried with a light sprinkle of sea salt. Yum!


Italian cashier talking to woman
Flowering zucchini in grocery basket
Frying flowering zucchini in a nonstick skillet with oil

7. Our Daily Dose of Gelato & Granita

Afternoon treats of gelato and granita were pretty much a daily occurrence with my family, especially with temps in the region reaching the upper 90’s most days. Marie's fave was raspberry gelato, and I loved the pistachio. But with the heat, the boys and I preferred granita (the Italian version of shaved ice) with my all-time favorite flavor being the limone – so tart and refreshing!

  Girl, boy, and dad eating gelato on a bench on a street in Italy

There we have it, seven of my favorite Italian delights that made our family trip to Umbria both tasty and memorable. Comment below with one (or more!) you’d like to try!

Big smiles after pizza at La Mediterranea in Perugia. 
Dad, girl, boy, and mom in front of hills of Italian countryside

P.S. I’d be remiss not to mention my honorable mention food, this blue-veined block of gorgonzola cheese! I know not everyone loves a good stinky cheese, but this beauty was delightful spread on grilled bread, crumbed over salads and pasta or - my personal fave – eating bite-sized chunks with a tomato! I had to give it some love on the blog

Block or gorgonzola cheese

2 comments


  • Carrie Voda

    Salivating…yum to all 7 (and the honorable mention)! I would love to try friend zucchini flowers!


  • Sandra Schmidt Schoenecker

    I loved seeing Tom and George! I’m so very happy that you were all able to experience this together!
    Sande


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