This post is dedicated to the towns we discovered along our drive. These are the towns that we fell in love with during our roadtrip and where we got a real taste of Italy.
We stayed at The Little Olive Grove at Casa Mimosa, which we found on Airbnb just a week before we drove to the Umbrian province. It was exactly what we were looking for: picturesque (we were surrounded by olive and fruit trees), close to shops where we could shop for fresh handmade pasta, and an owner (Terry, along with her dog Penny) who took such great care of us and provided daily fruits and vegetables from her garden. I definitely recommend this lovely place and am craving some of Terry's homemade fig jam and limoncello (WAY better than the store bought stuff) as I write this. Our favorite restaurant was the family-owned Seven Cafe, where we had truffle pasta and pizza with zucchini flowers. Scroll left/right for more images.
Città della Pieve
Terry recommended this town as it was only 15 minutes away. As soon as she mentioned that the best cacio e pepe was served at a restaurant here, I was on board. The town was pretty much devoid of tourists and the locals were in their homes during the lunch hours we visited, so the streets were practically empty. We went to Coppa Bruno Trattorio and it was true: it served the best cacio e pepe.
Civita de Bagnoregio
Another Terry recommendation (what would we have done without her?) and one of my favorite views in Italy. Also known as The Dying City, it was almost abandoned until the mayor started charging tourists to visit. This actually attracted more and more visitors thus helping to bring it back from the (almost) dead.
We had plans to visit Perugia and Terry recommended that we see Assisi in the same day trip. I'm so glad she did because while Perugia was fine (we particularly loved seeing the underground city), we really enjoyed Assisi. It's obviously a very religious town, but even non-religious visitors will find it interesting. It's also home to Cacio Pepe E.... which any gourmand should check out and try some of their amazing cinghiale (wild boar) sausage. Scroll left/right for more images.
We were driving to our next destination when we came upon Bolsena and decided to stop by for lunch. Like Città della Pieve, it had a similar sleepy vibe (or maybe then again it was because we came during lunch hours) yet felt distinctly different at the same time. We stopped into L'Osteria del Contadino where Graham had the lightest gnocchi we've both ever tasted. I was also very happy with my pici amatriciana, which was topped with the most perfect slices of bacon.
I had been looking forward to Pitgliano, where we were meeting a dear friend to celebrate her 30th birthday. We stayed at an old convent that was restored by a mother-daughter duo. You can read the story here. As you can see from the pictures, this place is wonderfully old and eclectic. It was a week of relaxing by the pool and eating non-stop. On the bottom photo, scroll left/right for more images.