Arriving in Umbria after a week in Rome is going to feel like going back in time. If you bring a rental car into the any of these ancient cities, though, it is going to feel like you are from the distant future. I'm just saying, watch those side mirrors.
I have been to Umbria before, but never to Spello. This sweet town is postcard perfect and you could spend your days getting lost among the beautiful flower lined side streets and feel perfectly content. That being said, there are some great hikes and daytrips from here plus excellent food and wine. So get lost in the mornings, grab a picnic for your hike, chill some Campari Sodas and then find yourself some wine, you know?
There are two alimentari (deli) shops in the town center, and both offer a tasty array of local meats and cheeses. My pick would be the one with this sign and no name.
I bought several items here on different occasions and was greeted kindly and served with patience. They were happy to slice off mezzo etto (50 gram) servings for we cheapos. Cinghiale (wild boar) rules in these parts and you will see it on offer in a myriad of ways. This was not boar season so if you had it in a ragú it will likely have been frozen. Still, we had a few plates of pasta di cinghiale which were delicious all the same.
Salame Cinghiale is always on offer and is a tasty way to get your boar fix. We ordered up some of this porta via (to go) along with some excellent salame finocchiona (with fennel) and a few marinated artichokes. We grabbed a torta al testo (flatbread sandwich) with pecorino from a shop next door and headed out for a hike along the Roman Aqueduct which leads out of town.
To call this hike stunning (or easy!) would be a vast understatement. We were heading up the mountain to the much smaller village of Collipeno. What a glorious walk this is along the ancient path, surrounded by olive trees and with sweeping views of the Umbrian countryside. A delight, indeed!
If you are lucky enough to arrive in May, you will be amongst the wild poppy's in bloom. Their bright red blooms are so lovely next to the shimmery silver of the olive leaves. Enjoy this moment and try to recall it as you breathlessly make your way up the mountain. Be sure you bring some water, too, as this so called 'aqueduct' is dry as can be. You can fill up in Collepino.
You will wind your way through some stunning scenery and be treated to some delightful scents, too. Rosemary bushes, enormous fig trees, wild fennel and wild freesia all do their part to perfume the walk.
It took us about 1.5 hours to make it up and about the same amount of time to get back down. When we did this hike in early May we encountered a total of zero people if you don't count the man pruning his olive trees. The last 20 minutes proved the most difficult, but the walk along the aqueduct was fairly flat and well maintained.
This charming little village offers beautiful views of the countryside below plus a restaurant and a small bar. We were all set with our picnic, but happily hopped in to the very fun La Locanda for a pick me up.
I had an espresso here and un bichierre di acqua (a glass of water) and this served me well. If, on the other hand, you need a little more assistance in picking yourself up, consider a café correto (corrected coffee). For just a few cents more than a normal espresso, one can 'correct' their cup by adding in a bit of booze. An espresso may be appropriately corrected with anything from sambuca to grappa. Here we have the ever present Vecchia Romagna Brandy.
Not that you've regained your energy, time to head back down to Spello and find a pretty perch to enjoy your delicious lunch. This will be an easy task!
The path along the Aqueduct seems to be pro-picnic as there are several tables and benches to stop at along the way. We chose the spot with a brilliant view of Spello.
By the time you make it back down it will almost be apertivo time. Thank goodness you had the good sense to chill down a five pack of Campari sodas and held onto a few slices of salami cinghiale.
After such a long hike, a tasty dinner is surely deserved. Luckily, I know just the place! A full review of the lovely Ristorante La Cantina Di Spello coming up in the next post. It should be noted on this trip we stayed at the spacious and beautiful La Residenza dei Cappuccini. At 60€ a night, this place is worth every penny. Plus, this was the view from our window.