EXPO 2015: "Feeding the planet" or just a Big Show?

At the end of this week, on the 31st October, the Universal Exhibition 2015 held in Milano, EXPO2015 is going to close its gates forever.

Opened last May 1st, during this six-month period, Milano has become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries have shown the best of their technology to offer - according to the organizers - "a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium".

Pavilion Zero was a "must do" to understand the theme
The very first edition of the Universal Exhibition was in 1851 in London, during the Industrial Revolution, a perfect time to show "the most ambitious successes that man has achieved over time, an occasion to share technologies, innovation and discoveries. It was also a moment to bring to life architectural projects or artistic movements, like the Eiffel tower which was built in Paris when the city hosted the Exposition in 1889".

Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life
The core theme of Expo Milano 2015, Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life has the aim to provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and try to find solutions, to the contradictions of our world. There are still the hungry - approximately 870 million people were undernourished -  and, on the other, there are those who die from aliments linked to poor nutrition or too much food - approximately 2.8 million deaths from diseases related to obesity or to being overweight in the same period. Above all, about 1.3 billion tons of foods are wasted every year.

My visit
Although I've heard many rumors and read many articles and blog posts on the several contradictions of EXPO 2015 in the realization and promotion of the core theme; Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life  - basically the importance of Food in human civilization in the past, present and, above all, future- was too crucial for my work to miss it.
In addition the last time that the Universal Exhibition was held in Italy was in 1906! An opportunity that happens very rarely in our Country.
Therefore, as soon as my working season has slowed down, I jumped to Milano [13th and 14th October 2015, at the beginning of the week, trying to avoid the following problems]

The long infinite queues
One of the most important complain I've heard about EXPO 2015 was the long infinite queues anywhere. This was partially true. The most famous pavilions like the Italian, Japanese, Swiss, and several other ones, were really "off-limits". In particular the Italian one had more than 4 hours of queue at 10AM, at the opening time! Not the Italian wine pavilion, that at 11.AM was almost deserted.

Italian wine Pavilion
This was probably due to the fact that for many people tasting wine in the morning is a little bit weird. Tasting wine is very different than drinking wine: you don't need to drink all the glass, just a couple of sips can give you an idea of the quality of a wine.
I enjoyed a lot this pavilion where I could taste more than a couple of top level wines I've never had the opportunity to drink [10 Euros for 3 tastings of wine, not so bad if you are able to find what you want among around 3500 different ones from all over the Peninsula!].
Not far from the Italian pavilion, there was Franciacorta, one of the most important regions of Italy for the production of great spumante [the Champagne-style wine, produced in Italy and called Metodo Classico wines]. Here I could taste an amazing Riserva from 2006, at 12 Eur/glass. Not so bad, for the very special edition and label.

My stop at the Umbrian wines
The long queues pushed me to change the priorities in my tour: I decided to get into the pavilions that had less crowds. In this way I could visit countries which I didn't know, like Turkmenistan, Belarus, Moldova, Angola, Slovenia and many others. In particular, I enjoyed a lot the Slovenian one, which really made me think to spend a vacation in this beautiful and very close Country.
Another area that was almost empty was the Clusters where different communities where brought together, not by geographical area, but by a common theme and food group: rice, fruits and legumes, cereals and tubers etc. Among the 9 themes, I loved in particular the Coffee one where I could drink a pleasant coffee from Guatemala [free offer], and the Bio-Mediterrean one where I tasted the very first extra virgin olive oil of the new season: a "just-pressed" evoo from Sicily [pressed at EXPO 2015 thanks to a portable mini-olive press].

As the core theme was Food, with capital F, I've heard that many people were disappointed about the quality of the food itself and the price. I have to say, that, yes, in general the cost of the food was more expensive than in a kiosk or a restaurant outside the event, especially the street food, in my opinion.
Personally I've planned to eat only international and ethnic food, using also this opportunity to have something different than Umbrian or Italian. Living in a beautiful, although very little region, it is quite hard to have something that differs from a torta al testo or porchetta, here.

My favourite food experiences at EXPO2015

At EXPO 2015 I had 2 main meals and both ok for the quality/price ratio. One in particular, was really good: the national Eritrean dish zighinì [a sort of beef stew with legumes and mushrooms with a very unique mix of local spices] that for family reasons I've tasted many times in other occasions and restaurants. The cost: 10.50 Euro. For the second meal, we were more traditional, in a certain way, choosing Argentina and its famous grilled meat. For a big plate of different grilled meat plus 2 beers and 2 empanadas [an Argentinian version of the Italian calzone, thin bread stuffed with meat and cheese]: 39 Euros to share in two people.
A nice experience was at the French pavilion. The French that they always know how to do it better, have brought to Milan an authentic boulangerie, baking "on site" tons and tons of baguette breads and croissants.
In particular I had one of their pain au chocolat, still hot, very good similar to the ones tasted in a [big] pastry shop in the heart of Paris: 2.50 Euros.
Then, not bad was the apple strudel at the Austrian pavilion for Euro 5 [even if I definitely had better ones in their Country].

Feeding the planet or just a big show?
Personally I enjoyed my time at EXPO 2015 a lot. It was my very first few-days break after an intense Summer of work, I was there basically only to have fun and my professional "enrichment" from this experience was not a priority.
EXPO Milano was both for me: a way to reflect once again on the contradictions of modern word about food and, especially, food waste, and for the same reasons, a big, expensive show, where food was at the very same time "the victim and the torturer". The reflection on the huge number of people who are still very far from the basic food needs, together with the huge availability and offer of "all-you-can-eat" to the wealthy EXPO visitor.
And...no. I really don't know, I can't say how many people in the crowds and infinite queues have really caught - under the colored neon lights and the Tree of Life's las-vegas-like-show - the utmost importance of the original message : being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet.

Official EXPO2015 website
Bureau international des Exposition

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#Terrediconfine July 2015 - Ancient food tradition in Todi and Orvieto

Melodie in Vigna - Roccafiore - Todi
The tradition and ancient food culture of the two tows Orvieto and Todi are the common thread of the project #TerrediConfine [borderlands] by the local Cultural Association Brumalia.

During the first and inaugural event MELODIE IN VIGNA in Todi last Saturday, Brumalia unveiled the rich programme that is running in the month of July in both the territories:

JULY 9 - Porano (village close to Orvieto) at Locanda Colle Ombroso
FIORI DA MANGIARE, the ancient tradition of edible flowers: cooking show and food tasting

JULY 11 - Todi at Istituto Agrario
IL BOCCONCELLO: Nonna Villelma and her friends disclose the public the original recipe of Bocconcello,  an ancient cheese bread used during the period of the threshing in Todi and other neighbouring towns of Umbria.

JULY 24 - Orvieto at Grotte dei Tronchi Fossili
SUONI DEL VINO: young talented drummers reproduce the "sounds of the wine", the sounds of the grape picking, pressing, bottling... Wine tasting with Orvietan wine in pairing with local products.

JULY 25 - Todi at Istituto Agrario
IL PANE DELLE FESTE: culinary duel between the traditional local bread Pane Nociato from Todi vs. Lumanchella, the typical snail-shaped bread from Orvieto.

For more information, inquiries and booking: 

Associazione Culturale "Brumalia"
email: associazione.brumalia@gmail.com
[English spoken]

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#Terrediconfine [borderlands]: Orvieto and Todi

Terre di Confine, borderlands could be an unusual word to define the towns of Orvieto and Todi.

Orvieto and Todi are in Umbria. They are part of the same region, they share the same culture and heritage regarding art and history together with an ancient food tradition and outstanding wine production.

Going back in time there are many affinities, they both are hill-top towns, both surrounded by a high circle of walls, food is also quite similar, wine great as well, and the monuments: stunning.

Duomo di Orvieto shines at sunset
If we pay more attention to the details, we immediately notice that there are many differences, Orvieto stays on a impressive rock of tufo a volcanic brown rock, Todi on a gentle rolling hill mostly made of clay.
Orvieto has its incredible Duomo, one of the masterpieces of Italian art. In Todi there is the Temple of Consolazione, a unique "greek-cross" church with its spectacular domes.
Orvietan traditional pasta is umbrichelli, a sort of thick spaghetti made of flour and water, in Todi there are tagliatelle, flat pasta made also by eggs. Although in both the towns bread is without salt, Orvieto has a speciality: Lumachella, a snail-shape rich bread, while Todi has Pane Nociato, with noci, walnuts.
Santa Maria della Consolazione in Spring - Todi
Orvieto and Todi are both D.O.C wine area, both famous for their white wines: Orvieto with its Orvieto Classico, a blend of different local grapes, while Todi for Grechetto, a single variety wine...

In the next weeks thanks to the new Cultural Association "Brumalia" in which we are directly and strictly involved, both in Orvieto and Todi there will be a series of activities and events focused on this topic: Terre di Confine, borderlands.

In the meantime we have just launched the hashtag #terrediconfine on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where everyone is invited  - and very welcome - to post and share in Italian or in English your passion "from A to Z" for one of the two towns or..even better, for both!

Thank you! Grazie!

Associazione Culturale "Brumalia"
email: associazione.brumalia@gmail.com

Facebook: Facebook Fan Page
Twitter: Twitter
Instagram: @brumalia_it

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Top 5 events&festivals in May in Umbria

Spring has arrived in Umbria, better calling it "pre-Summer", thanks to the very pleasant temperatures and stable weather of the last weeks.

Starting from this month Umbria is opening its long season of Summer Festivals, a great time to enjoy our region, not only for tourists but also for local people, ready to start celebrating the bella stagione "al fresco" with food and wine.

The next three weekends of May are so rich in special events (and we are just mentioning the ones in our town Todi or very close by..) that it's really not easy to make a choice...

1. Porchettiamo - May 15-16-17 2015 - San Terenziano
Porchettiamo is "the" festival to celebrate one of the most famous Umbrian street food: porchetta, the traditional roast pork. The villages of San Terenziano and Grutti are famous in the region for their pork production. This "typical and delicious food, rich in history, both noble and popular, has always been the street, square, fair and market-food". All the porchetta producers at Porchettiamo have been carefully selected by the organizers according to quality, craftsmanship and authenticity.

Todi: Medieval buildings and flowers
2. Todi Fiorita - May 22-23-24 2015 - Todi
The beautiful centre of Todi is hosting Todi Fiorita, national exhibition of Flower Gardening in Piazza del Popolo, organized by the local Association Verde Todi. The historical places of our town are going to be the locations of blooming gardens, scents and aromas.
This year special guided tours to discover "the secrets gardens" run by our friends at Todiguide.com [follow and tag on Instagram and Twitter #secretgardens #Todinondatutti]

3. Orvieto in Fiore - May 20-24 2015 - Orvieto
Scents of flowers also in Orvieto. Conferences and food events, wine tasting and ancient arts and crafts, like the famous Merletto (embroidery) di Orvieto. Beautiful Infiorate (flower carpets) in honor of the traditional Festa della Palombella which takes place on Ascension Day on Sunday 24: a dove "navigating a route in the air lands in a special canopy at the entrance of the Cathedral".

My great time in Castel Ritaldi last year
4. Eventi a Castello - May 22-23-24 2015 - Castel Ritaldi
We enjoyed a lot this event last year in the cozy village of Castel Ritaldi, located in the beautiful area of production of Sagrantino wine.
The rich programme whose title this year is "dalla terra alla tavola", from the land to the table, includes food tasting, pic nic and guided walks foraging for greens.

5. Cantine Aperte - May 30-31 2015 - All over Umbria
This is the most important wine event of the year , involving wine as the main protagonist together with the people who produce it and the territory where it is made. Since 1993, during the the last Sunday of May, the members of the association "Movimento Turismo del Vino" have opened their doors to the public establishing in this way an immediate and direct contact with all wine tourists and lovers.
This year many wineries among our most favourite ones are also organizing the so-called "Cena con vignaiolo" on Saturday 30 [reservations required]. A dinner with the winemakers and owners to enjoy special food, taste amazing wines and, above all, to get in touch with the real people involved in the charming art of wine making.

[If you know or organize a food/wine/cultural festival in Umbria in May, contact us. We'll be very happy to post it on our blog.]

Contacts and information:

1. Porchettiamoporchettiamo.com  

2. Todi Fiorita: www.todifiorita.it 

3.Orvieto in Fiore: orvietodeiquartieri.it 

4. Eventi a Castello: 
Ms. Ilaria Bellini mob. +39 334 9796339  email: ilaria.bellini@vanillacompany.it

5. Cantine Aperte: Movimento Turismo del vino - Umbria 

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Great things come for those who wait: Anteprima Sagrantino 2011

Sagrantino, the red muscle wine of Umbria, the "king of tannins" had its days of glory this week, during Anteprima Sagrantino held in Montefalco on the 23rd and 24th February 2015.
The event, organized by Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco (association of local producers), represented the debut of vintage 2011 to the press and operators.

Why vintage 2011 in 2015?
According to the regulation of production Sagrantino needs to be aged in barrels (and refined in bottle) for a minimun of 37 months,  that it's more than 3 years. This long aging period is necessary to tame the wild tannins typical of this grape, to turn their natural strength into elegant notes.

Vintage 2011 vs. harvest 2014
Anteprima Sagrantino also offered the opportunity to make important considerations between vintage 2011 and harvest 2014 (whose vintage will be released in 3 years).
Two very different years, characterized by very opposite seasons: hot and dry the first, cold and wet the second.
I'm sure that those who traveled to Umbria (and Italy) last Summer remember the very strange weather that we had, not the typical Mediterranean season, with peaks of heat and lack of water, but humid and less warm.

The last will be the first
An ancient proverb says: "the vine needs to suffer", meaning that, in a certain sense,  the vine needs to be stressed to produce a good wine. Between a dry and hot season and a rainy and damp one, the  first it's definitely better. Humidity is the enemy number one for the vine as it makes the perfect environment for fungus and diseases.
During Spring and Summer 2014 protecting the grapes from adversities was really difficult. All over the region and the Country, 2014 was a very demanding year in terms of agronomic management of the vineyards.
However, where this management was prudent, accurate, very scientific and - at the same time - full of passion and devotion (not only in Montefalco area, everywhere also for other varieties) - the quality of the grapes was more than satisfying.
Sagrantino is a late grape, its harvest time begins one month and even more later than the other varieties like Sangiovese, for example. A peculiar characteristic that par chance  helped this grapevine,  considering the seasonal trend.
While Spring and Summer were very rainy, October and also the beginning of November (period of ripening/harvest for Sagrantino) was warm, dry and sunny. A favourable weather for late varieties.

The table below, although quite "technical", shows that the data connected to all the important parameters are not so different between vintage 2011 and 2014, considering the very difficult year. Vintage 2014 will not have bad surprises when ready to be released. Probably even this year will lead to good balanced Sagrantino.

[Speech/slide by Oenologist Riccardo Cotarella]

The tasting room: 25 wineries 200 labels to taste
Vintage 2011 my first impressions
I tasted "randomly" some samples from the 25 wineries that took part to the event (I couldn't try all the 200 labels, sorry) and I can say that 2011 tasted really good. In particular, I was very impressed by the incredible bouquet: the blackberries and blueberries together with an intense hint of spices are perfectly balanced and very elegant.
Giving that Sagrantino is a wine that needs to stay in bottle for some months (some wines were bottled just few time ago, some other were "barrel samples") the tannins demanded some more weeks to express more elegance i.e. they will be in perfect shape for your next wine tour in Spring and Summer!

More information: Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco

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Umbria on my mind Vol.3...best shots from 2014

Last days of 2014, another year full of great experiences and fantastic people here in Umbria.
Since 2012 the best way to say thank you to all of you,  so kind to follow us on our social media, is to share again the shots that you, and us, liked most.

15 photographs from our Instagram profile @discoverumbria to celebrate 2014, the eternal cycle of the Seasons, this beautiful land Umbria.

This year we have other important news for those who love our town Todi and Umbria. 

Together with our partners and local businesses in town, we have set a series of hashtags to use on your Instagram (and Twitter) accounts when you are here.
These #tags will help all of us and our beautiful region to be promoted on social media and internet directly by YOU, by the people.

Please tag: #visitTodi #visitUmbria #discoverTodi #discoverUmbria

Auguri! Buon Anno!

02.07.2014 Roofs and smoking chimneys
06.03.2014 The king of the village
20.03.2014 On the road too Nocia, Sant'Anatolia di Narco
09.04.2014 Most common Umbrian home decor of the season
 14.04.2014 Playing videogames? No cutting the grass with daddy -  in Castel Ritaldi

02.05.2014 It's always a pleasure receiving invitations by new wineries
 in Bevagna
03.05.2014 On the wine road again. Unstable weather but always a beautiful drive among the vineyards
31.05.2014 Driving home, great evening light
06.06.2014 On the road again
12.06.2014 Morning drive along a new itinerary
19.08.2014 Lines
17.09.2014 Someone is sketching in Gubbio
14.10.2014 Just before the harvest. Sagrantino vines in Montefalco
19.11.2014 Quiet morning...
11.12.2014 Cold and magic Winter night in Todi

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2014 Extra virgin olive oil: "you need to make to do with what you have"

Old and high tech press in a mill close to Orvieto
2014 will be probably recorded as one of the most difficult years in extra virgin olive oil production in Umbria and Central Italy.
The humidity and the very unusual "tropical" weather, very rainy and hot, that we had during the last Summer and at the beginning of Autumn, significantly affected these precious fruits.

Thanks to its climate, windy and chilly especially in October, just before the harvest,  the gentle rolling hills, Umbria has the perfect terroir for the production of top level organic EVOOs, famous not only for its aromas and fragrance, but especially for the high quantity of antioxidants that in our extra virgin reaches the top of this very important range.

Our partner Roberta in her oil mill in Bevagna
We know that Mother Nature is not always benevolent towards her children and those who are involved in agriculture knows it very well.
Local evoo producers and consumers are aware of the fact that this year they have to "accontentarsi", that more or less it means: you need to make to do with what you have. 
Oil mills would not open 24h/7 as it usually happens, and people know that the extra virgin will cost more this year, given to the insufficient quantity.

I've recently read several articles and posts on foreigner blogs that describe the situation in shocking terms.
Of course, we also are quite sad and worried (especially the producers), but I think that we, Umbrians, have a different approach on this problem simply because we are used to bad times.

Agriculture has an ancient tradition in Umbria
Until the 50s Umbria was a very poor region and many old people remind the hard times during and just after WWII, when even food was not enough. Younger people recall the extreme cold in 1956 and 1982, where thousand Umbrian olive trees died because of the frost and ice. These two years 1956 and 1982, carved in stone here in our shared memories, were really scary.
When an olive tree dies, it needs to be re-implanted and to grow a new tree that can produce a good quantity of olives, we need to wait for about 10-12 years, but we did it. We cried, we suffered,  but we re-implanted our olive groves and, in certain areas of the region, almost completely.

2014, that affected not the trees but the quantity/quality of olives, has simply reminded us again how little we are, how much we depend on Nature.
In these weeks, visiting my partners for my guided tours, all family-run companies at their third or forth generation in olive growing, I felt the very same mood: it's just a bad year, it's hard but it can happen. Agriculture is not a perfect science, you can do the best you can, but at the end everything depends on Nature.

Probably during the next tourist season when you are in our region, maybe the bruschetta we'll offer you it would be less generous, but Umbrian extra virgin olive oil producers and their passion and love for their product are always here, ready to start again. 

***UPDATE 11th November 2014***
Our providers made the miracle, pressing only the best olives! We have secured a small quantity for our guided tours and tasting and our travelers! Our extravirgin olive oil tours are running in season 2014-15!
Join us :) 

Read my related post:

Extra Virgin Resurrection

The Food that made us: Chapter 1 olive oil 

Frantoi Aperti 2011 

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"Once you find something good, you need to take care of it. You need to let it grow".

A vineyard in Montefalco just before the harvest

"A Good Year" it is the title of a movie filmed by Ridley Scott some time ago. Basically, it is the story of a ruthless British investment broker [Russel Crowe] who inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. Here, as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold, he discovers a new totally different  lifestyle, a new passion [wine making, of course] and a new love, changing totally his priorities and his life.

Some happy moments Season 2014
Although quite commercial and - as some critics said - "a sun-dappled romantic diversion", it is the kind of movie that simply makes you feel happy for an hour and something, a simple entertainment.

However "A Good Year" has some very nice quotes like the following:

"Once you find something good, you need to take care of it. You need to let it grow".

Some happy moments Season 2014
This post is just to celebrate this happy moment, the end of our high season and the beginning of a new season, the best moments we are happy to share to thank,  first of all,  the travelers who chose us to discover this beautiful region, our partners at the farms and wineries and all the people who trusted in us.

A very special thank goes to Diana,  so kind to host some posts on wine I had the pleasure and honor to write in her fantastic blog Browsing Italy and Kathy from the great Food Lover's Odyssey for my interview on the food and wine traditions in my home-town Todi.

My posts on wine on Browsing Italy:

My interview on Food Lover's Odyssey

Now, after a little break, we're ready for the new season, to welcome you all in 2015. In the meantime, in this upcoming Fall and Winter, I'll start blogging again trying to do my best to keep telling you how beautiful
is Umbria.


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5 reasons to travel to Umbria in August

This post has actually been inspired by a recent article published on the American website Dream of Italy. Here the author pointed out "some of the popular misconceptions about visiting the land of la dolce vita during the month of August".
Just yesterday, during one of our wine tours, my guests were so impressed by the silence and peace they could enjoy in our region, despite they were traveling in the so-called "high season".

Here my 5 reasons to travel to Umbria in August:

1. Umbria is never crowded

Montefalco at lunch-break on August 2013
One of the most popular nightmare for a traveler in search of a relaxing holiday is spending his/her vacation together with other millions of tourists, especially if they are compatriots (it seems that when we travel abroad, Italians or Americans, Danish or Finnish we all prefer getting in contact with local people than "enjoying" the company of our contryfellows...)
Umbria is never crowded. Although from Spring to early Fall more and more travelers have been discovering this hidden gem, Umbria, in this sense, is never similar to a famous hill top village in Chianti area or Amalfi coast, for example.

2. Heat? Lakes and mountains, underground caves and old churches

Enjoying "my" Martani Mountains last year
Well, as stated in Dream of Italy's post, "it depends on your definition of heat".
Yes, it's true that Umbria is far from the sea, but, in case you'd like having a break from the [possible] heat, Umbria has beautiful lakes: Trasimeno or Lago di Piediluco. For those who stay near Orvieto, highly recommended is also Lago di Bolsena located in the northern part of Lazio region, called Tuscia, close to the amazing village of Civita di Bagnoregio.
The region has stunning mountainous areas where the temperature is always at least 3-5 degrees lower than the one perceived in our towns thanks to the altitude. The most famous is definitely Norcia and Sibillini Natural Park, with its stunning Piano di Castelluccio, known for the cultivation of lentils. If Norcia could be too far, a day off on Martani Mountains located in central Umbria can be a very good option.
For lovers of art and history a visit to a monastery or to the thousand churches can be a very good idea...and don't forget the underground caves, especially in Orvieto and Narni.

3. Stunning views, gorgeous landscape

Walking in a vineyard among verdant vines

In this region Mother Nature offers her show all year round. In August you can enjoy the best of our Summer views: at the beginning of the month sunflowers, luxuriant verdant vines and olive trees already full of the little olives; at the end of the month, deep purple and golden yellow bunches of grapes ready to be harvested in September...

4. Sagra - traditional Food Festivals
Summer is the period of Sagra and August represents the peak of the season. These local food festivals take place everywhere in the region. Sagra is a great opportunity to taste local specialities and above all, to experience local way of living.

5. Ferragosto - August 15

Sagra - Food Festivals
The term Ferragosto comes from the Latin expression Feriae Augusti (Augustus' rest), which is a celebration introduced by the emperor Augustus in 18 BC. This was an addition to the other ancient Roman festivals which fell in the same month celebrating the harvest and the end of a long period of intense agricultural labor.
The Catholic Church consecrated this day to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. Today Ferragosto is a religious festivity and a National holiday.
In Umbria, a land whose rural past and tradition are still alive, Ferragosto - in its "pagan" meaning connected to the end of the works in the fields -  is a very important holiday, blessed by a huge family lunch dominated by the main dish: oca arrosto (roast goose).
If you are so lucky to be invited by your Umbrian neighbours, don't miss this great opportunity.
If like enjoying oca and you're not so fortunate, don't worry: many restaurants and agriturismo offer it in their menu on August 15. In case, don't forget to book your table some days in advance because Umbria is never crowed but...Umbrians love celebrating!

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Castel Ritaldi, fairy tales and fine wines

The hamlet of Castel Ritaldi
Even if you've spent all your entire life in this region,  there's always something new to discover in Umbria.
Last month, thanks to the invitation by the local association Castel Ritaldi Planet, I had the opportunity to live one day in this nice village, located along the panoramic road that connects Montefalco to Spoleto,

My great day at Castel Ritaldi
Like all the towns and villages in this region, Castel Ritaldi has an ancient history. "Libero Comune", independent town-state in the Middle Ages, in 1499 it was visited by Lucrezia Borgia, the famous daugher, ....yes daughter,  of Roderigo Borgia, Papa Alessandro VI, probably one of the most controversial popes in the history of the Catholic Church, famous for his cruelty and licentiousness.
At that time Lucrezia was the governor of the town of Spoleto, and her visit represented an act of loyalty towards Castel Ritaldi.

The historical connection between Lucrezia Borgia and this village is represented every year in the"Palio del Fantasma", a Medieval event taking place between July and August.

The beautiful Pieve San Gregorio, romanic building with fine bass reliefs dated A.D. 1141

In the 1600 century the village was known to be an important area for olive oil production: today there are still many olive groves and oil mills in the area whose top level EVOOs are celebrated during "Frantoio Tipico", extra virgin olive oil festival in the first week of November.

The stunning wine area facing Montefalco

Castel Ritaldi is also one of the five towns in the doc and docg wine district of Montefalco. Along with the production of the famous full bodied red wines like Montefalco Rosso and Montefalco Sagrantino, this territory is traditionally connected to an ancient white grape variety: Trebbiano Spoletino.
Here, in the country surrounding the village, I had definitely one of my best, unforgettable, exciting experience in my career of sommelier and wine tour guide: admiring an example of vineyard of Trebbiano Spoletino in the ancient way called "Vite Maritata", very old practice of cultivation  - used even by the Romans -  of training vines to grow up along living tree trunks.

A very rare example of "Vite Maritata" vineyard

More information for a visit:
Comune di Castel Ritaldi - Turismo e Cultura
Castel Ritaldi Planet - Tourist Information

Nel 1499 Castel Ritaldi vide la visita di Lucrezia Borgia, all'epoca governatrice di Spoleto che così volle sottolineare la lealtà del castello. Agli inizi del 1600 prese vigore, con la coltivazione dell'olivo, la vita agricola. - See more at: http://www.castelritaldi.eu/CategoriaMedia.aspx?idc=72&explicit=SI#sthash.wDKXgL37.dpuf
Nel 1499 Castel Ritaldi vide la visita di Lucrezia Borgia, all'epoca governatrice di Spoleto che così volle sottolineare la lealtà del castello. Agli inizi del 1600 prese vigore, con la coltivazione dell'olivo, la vita agricola. - See more at: http://www.castelritaldi.eu/CategoriaMedia.aspx?idc=72&explicit=SI#sthash.wDKXgL37.dpuf

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