The first thing you notice having lived in a buzzy, bustling city for years once out in the remote Umbrian hills is the silence.
It’s the kind that leaves you alone with your thoughts and forces you to pay attention to smaller worlds living around you, such as those of the hundreds of different insects, creeping through the olive grove. It made me become incredibly conscious of sound and the peace that silence is capable of instilling.
Even though I have one of those minds that never stops talking.
We woke up early and tiptoed down the gravel path through the olive grove to breakfast.
A beautiful spread of fresh melon and fig jam, bread and butter, warm, apricot jam filled croissants and chocolate apple pastry decorated the table.
After picking through the pastries, a bowl of muesli with toasted oats, coconut, melon and apple was served. It was the perfect fuel for the long day ahead.We hitched a ride with Alberto who was off to collect more guests at the airport.
We flew down the gravel roads leaving a trail of dust behind us. Our nerves slightly eased by Alberto’s endless arsenal of jokes as we overtook 18-wheeler trucks and little old ladies more concentrated on sharing the correct way to make pasta than the road.
We were left in the centre of Perugia and told to follow the escalators.
In the middle of this medieval city, the last thing you’d expect to find is a series of escalators.
But, there they were, and up we went.
At the end of the strada lies Piazza IV Novembre. In the piazza is the Fontana Maggiore, a beautiful fountain built in the 13th century. The star of the piazza, however, is the divine Duomo towering over the square. The Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, also known as the Cathedral of Perguia, holds stunning intricacies present across many of Italy’s cathedrals. Endless detail in marble work, gilded frames and stain glass windows are truly breathtaking. Regardless of the building’s significance, it truly is an awe-inspiring masterpiece.
We left the cathedral and began to wander aimlessly around the town.
Up a road, down an alley and through beautifully constructed buildings, we came to the top and looked out over city. Stunning views of rolling hills and terracotta tiles stretched as far as the eye could see. After a little more wandering and discovering, we headed back down towards the city centre.
As you can imagine, my favourite thing about Italy is admittedly the food. I spotted a delicatessen and popped in to see what was on sale.
Just look at the size of these grapes!
They were like mini plums and had such a beautiful colour. I’m positive their packaged Mozzarella di Buffala is nothing compared to that sold at home and desperately wanted to buy boxes of it to sneak into my suitcase.
But, I figured this wouldn’t go over too well in customs and moved onto the meat. Beautiful prosciuttos, salamis and homemade sausages lined the meat counter, taunting me. We left the delicatessen and found a little market selling rows of leather bags, clothes and antiques. More impressive than anything being sold, was the breathtaking view beyond the stalls. And, this little guy!
Just look at that little face.
He was free to a good home and again, I mentally negotiated the chances of slipping through customs with “special goods” in my bag.
I decided to give it a miss.
Sufficiently starving having been surrounded by people snacking on piadinis and pastas, we popped into a literal hole in the wall for something to eat. The tiny store sold slices for about a Euro and was filled with business men, tourists and students alike, all wanting a warm snack.
I went for a classic Pizza Margherita topped with fresh Mozzarella inspired by my craving from earlier. It was simple and delicious. The perfect mid-afternoon snack.
In my opinion, no Italian meal is complete without creamy, sweet gelato.
We sought out Grom, a locally loved gelateria and I ordered my favourites: chocolate, stracciatella and pistachio.
This was followed by another leisurely stroll down random passageways, killing time before our taxi was arranged to collect us.
After being collected and dropped back to our temporary home at The Country House Montali, we had just enough time to shower, throw on a dress and scamper through the grove to arrive in time for dinner.
Our lovely hosts greeted us and showed us to the same table we sat at each night.
To start another delicious evening of food, we were served a quinoa & cherry tomato cocktail with pepper cream and bites of Mozzarella di Bufala.
Next, a little mixed vegetable roulade with a saffron sauce. To finish the savoury dishes, a Brazilian inspired potato stuffed pastry filled with tender aubergine. This was served with fresh pesto and cauliflower foam.