Yesterday marked the end of our 2011 Umbria Food & Wine Tour I, our Friday being a sort of super add on bonus day for our one remaining guest. This morning – very early this morning – we said goodbye to our last guest and begin the turn around before shifting gears and welcoming our guests to 2011 Umbria Food & Wine II.
La dolce vita in high gear. Like a Ferrari.
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It is always a sad affair to say goodbye to our guests here, whether they have visited us on an organized tour, such as our annual Umbria Food and Wine and Umbria Jazz tours, or simply stayed with us as our guests. The Umbrian experience, shared together, creates some strong and deep bonds. By the end of one week together everyone speaks the same language. It’s still English, but it is informed by Umbria, by our new common friendships and shared experiences. Restaurants are referred to by their owners’ names as everyone has become personal friends with the owners, opinions are bandied about over the quality of this olive oil versus another and the relative merits of Assisi and Perugia are compared. Umbria finds a way into the soul and works quickly to take control.
And then, as quickly as it began, they are gone.
It is sad to say goodbye. For us to our guests. And for our guests to Umbria.
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Perhaps that is why they return. Those who have experienced Umbria the most find a way to return. And so as we begin 2011 Umbria Food & Wine II we welcome back Mary Ellen and Robert, alums of 2010 Umbria Food & Wine. A week from now we will experience the sadness of their second departure but at least for today we look forward to their return.
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Our last day of F&W I was a meandering sort of day. There was plenty of structure – a delicious seafood lunch at the Deco Hotel, a visit to the town of Solomeo, the construct of designer and cashmere mogul Brunello Cuccinelli, some additional bargain hunting, the day capped off by dinner at in nearby Torre del Colle – but the pace was decidedly and purposefully languid and unrushed. This was an opportunity for Karen, our lone remaining guest, to stop and smell the cashmere and to let it all sink in. This was an opportunity to actually live the slow life that we talk about constantly, when we’re not busy rushing from one activity to another so as to give our guests a driveby glimpse of the slow life. Such is life’s contradictions.
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And so, after a week of experiencing Umbria, what have our guests actually experienced?
Cheese shopping in Orte
Lunch at Simone’s restaurant
A tour of Assisi
Dinner at the Villa
A visit to Citerna
Cooking with Gabriella and lunch with her and Saverio
A visit to see the art of Alberto Burri
Pizza making at the villa
A visit to a linen factory and hours spent with Augusta
Lunch at a winery with the winemaker and a tour of the winery
Shopping in Montefalco for more linens
A visit to another winery
Dinner at the villa, cooking and eating with chef Simone
A visit to the garden of chef Salvatore
A cooking class at the Caprai winery with Salvatore
A visit to a tiny winery run solo by the winemaker
Dinner at the villa with Maria Pia
A visit to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli to see the Porziuncola
Lunch in Perugia at the city’s best pizza restaurant
A walking tour of Perugia
A visit to the art studio of Giuseppe Fioroni and a reception with the artist
Dinner in Cannara at Perbacco and an impromptu sommelier course with Ernesto
A visit to an olive mill to see the harvest and the making of olive oil
A private reception and tasting with the owner
A visit to a local cheese shop and a tasting with the owner
A visit to Spello and the museum of the works of the artist Norberto
Dinner in Bevagna and after dinner drinks with Simone
Exploring Solomeo and a visit to the Brunello Cucinello cashmere fashion outlet
A seafood lunch at the Deco Hotel
More cashmere shopping at local outlets
Dinner at Torre del Colle
Next year we’ll try to give our guests a little more for their Euro, but at least for this year I kind of think they had a good time.
Bill and Suzy