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Twitter #italychat Transcript: Travel to Umbria with Rebecca Winke of Brigolante

On Wednesday, February 16, @dreamofitaly hosted another successful #italychat on Twitter with Rebecca Winke @brigolante, an American expat  who runs Brigolante Guest Apartments near Assisi. Our topic was travel to Umbria!




Intro:

@brigolante Pretty happy to be up to bat before @wanderingitaly talks about Tuscany on the next #italy chat, but a little intimidated following @vinoroma

There will be no mention of jingles from the 80s this week. I have been humming 'Riunite on Ice' for weeks.

@dreamofitaly You can get more info on Umbria in Dream Of Italy's free special report: http://bit.ly/i7hJqx.


Q1 What do you think makes Umbria unique from other Italian regions?


@brigolante Tough one… one of the great things about Italy is how unique each region is.

@dreamofitaly There is something understated about Umbria, refined even.

@brigolante Umbria has perfect mix of art, architecture, history, food, festivals, wine, nature, towns; one region that's a taste of everything… had to get my Tuscany dig in.

@dreamofitaly Unfortunately parts of Tuscany can be overrun with tourists, not so for most of Umbria.

@discoverumbria Umbria is unique also for the people

@brigolante Umbria doesn't have one anchor city that many regions have (Florence, Rome), so lends itself to more wandering.

@travel_content @brigolante Don't worry, couple glasses of Grechetto, a Baci chocolate and Norcia sausage and you'll be in the #umbria grove.

@dreamofitaly @discoverumbria Agree the Umbrian people are great. Very warm and welcoming. Understated. Proud.

@gustowinetours @discoverumbria Agree! The folks here really make Umbria what it is.

@NG_Rome The colors of Umbria are perhaps the best in the artists' palette

@travel_content so true about the colours of Umbria.



Q2 Let's talk Assisi -(your apartments are nearby). What are some hints for seeing it? Favorite places in town?


@brigolante Get beyond the iconic Basilica of St. Francis (tho don't skip it). Assisi has wonderful Roman sites, fortresses, a hermitage, a Regional Park.

@brigolante My fave place in Assisi is the cemetery. Architecture, history, amazing view, and a peek into what makes Assisans tick… Also, since the basilica is so iconic and can get crowded, time your visit for early morning or late afternoon.

@gustowinetours Wandering around the back streets going towards the Rocca is heavenly- gorgeous narrow streets filled with flowers. Lovely.

@dreamofitaly @gustowinetours Streets up to the Rocca (Rocca Maggiore) in Assisi can be steep- many folks don't realize how much climbing/ walking is needed.

@brigolante @gustowinetours And demoralizing when you are outpaced by an 80 yr old in sensible heels with 2 shopping bags.

@gustowinetours Sorry, misleading, I meant going up from the piazza to the anfiteatro (another little hidden gem!) Try that.

@gustowinetours @brigolante Happens to me all the time! (reply to: And demoralizing when you are outpaced by an 80 yr old in sensible heels with 2 shopping bags.)



Q2b Do you recommend people have a tour guide for Assisi or do it on their own?


@travel_content @brigolante beauty of Umbrian tours is that there is always a ruin, painting, hilltop village & gorgeous restaurants 5 mins away.

@dreamofitaly I've used a guide from http://www.guideinumbria.com in Assisi. She is great…@travel_content, hold that thought, we're getting to food and restaurants in a moment. You may have some to recommend.

@brigolante I love the extra info of an insider experience. I always suggest taking a day for guided tour, wine tour, cooking class.


Q3 What are some unique Umbrian dishes that one must try when visiting the region?


@brigolante Umbrian cooking is very seasonal and runs from haute cuisine (truffles) to cucina povera (legumes). Coming of age in wine, too.

@dreamofitaly I don't even really like pork but the porchetta in Umbria is incredible.

@brigolante Porchetta is a great, cheap street food, perfect for a fly-by snack or picnic in one of the regional parks. Seek white trucks.

@madelineJ Just ate lunch but I'm getting hungry listening to @brigolante recommend what to eat in Umbria

@travel_content @brigolante truffles dishes, Norcia sausages, Perugia chocolates.

@dreamofitaly I love Torta al Testa- does it always have meat in it or sometimes cheese?

@brigolante Another mobile food is Torta al Testo (flat bread), great with local charcuterie or sautéed green. Look for it at Sagras.

@brigolante yes, Umbrian wine coming of age!! @gustowinetours doing great trips for visitors to wineries.

@gustowinetours Not strictly Umbrian, but the sausages made at the butchers here are, in my opinion, the best bar none!

@brigolante Great (hungry) minds think alike!

@wanderingitaly You don't like pork? PORK? You gotta like pork. It's what Italy is for. After all, its leader appears to be a pig.

@dreamofitaly @wanderingitaly Clarification - I LOOOOVE pork in Italy, especially Umbria. Oink!

@brigolante @wanderingitaly :D Pork is to Umbria what sin is to Vegas and girls are to, um, yeah.

@domenicacooks Ciao! re: regional Umbrian dishes. I really love the salumi--and stews--made with cinghiale (wild boar).

@dreamofitaly @domenicacooks good one - how could we not mention the cinghale (boar)?

@brigolante @domenicacooks The use of game really shows Umbria's humble hunting and farming roots. Great mention...

@travel_content  @brigolante Umbrian food is like its ingredients earthy, rich, flavoursome and rural. Lovely natural dishes.

@domenicacooks @brigolante Yep. Another important ingredient in Umbrian cooking: fresh porcini!

@NG_Rome have you talked about Fegato?

@travelromane best torta al testo eaten near Trasimeno lake in a big dancing. Popular and caracteristic!

@domenicacooks lentils, sausage, black truffles

@dreamofitaly @NG_Rome No, what is fegato?

@NG_Rome@dreamofitaly a delicious liver dish :D

@dreamofitaly I'll enjoy the pork but I draw the line at liver (fegato)

@brigolante @travelromane We have friends from Castiglione del Lago who always claim the torta around the lake is the best in the region.

@brigolante @NG_Rome We just had fegatelli for dinner!

@NG_Rome sono gelosa!! (I am jealous)




Side Question: Hey favorite Umbrians! Tell me something new to do next time I'm in the zone! Asked by @italiamelissa

@brigolante @italiamelissa I am discovering some amazing historical family arteliers…textiles, stained glass, wrought iron, etc.


Q4 What are your favorite restaurants in Umbria? (we'll get to vino next!)


@dreamofitaly My friends who own Fattoria del Gelso in Cannara (where we are holding Dream of Italy's Umbria Harvest Week again this year) introduced me to many great Umbria restaurants http://www.redibis.it/ is one.

@brigolante Too bad @madonnaDP isn't here… we never agree on restaurants! I am loving Camesena near Trevi in the summer (but it's our secret).

@discoverumbria  1 of my fave restaurants is http://www.isetteconsoli.it/ in Orvieto.

@gustowinetours Goodness, they're all so good, do you mean proper restaurants or agriturismi or pizzerie or all of the above?!!

@brigolante I was just going to mention Redibis as my winter pick! Gluten free dishes, too.. (so many celiac travelers recently)

@gustowinetours Well, ok, I'll start with Perbacco in Cannara - love the Umbrian theme with a twist.

@brigolante Also begrudgingly love L'alchimista in Montefalco...even though everyone loves it along with me.

@discoverumbria There' s another wonderful restaurant I'll be going there tomorrow again in Avigliano Umbro called La Posta, no website.

@dreamofitaly Perbacco is tops. Love the owner and chef Annarita!!

@wanderingitaly I really liked Il Gufo in Perugia when I went to the Università per Stranieri.

@dreamofitaly the restos with no web site are usually the best!

@discoverumbria I love L'alchimista especially their wine list!

@italiamelissa Leti sent us to lovely place in Foligno, the owner/chef brought out dish after dish fab! name escapes me do you know?

@dreamofitaly Is that Salvatore's restaurant in Fasano? He's awesome but the place recently closed :( Crazy decor, etc.

@brigolante My guess is Osteria del Teatro, which I know she loves. I haven't made it there yet!

@wanderingitaly and Dal Mi'Cocco in Perugia, too.

@vinoumbria @discoverumbria La Posta - did that restaurant used to be further north?

@discoverumbria @vinoumbria La Posta is just in the little village of Avigliano Umbro between Todi and Terni

@italiamelissa @brigolante Yes, I was just going to say it was Dietro L'angolo from the teatro! No menu, best food! Love those kinds of places.

@travelromane loved pasta at Ristorante Enoteca Onofri in Bevagna.


Side Question Are many Italians celiac? (asked by @dreamofitaly in response to Redibis having gluten free dishes)

@brigolante  Not sure if there are many celiacs, but the condition seems to be more known and restaurants/grocery stores are better stocked.


Q5 Umbrian wine- what kind should we drink? Where (vineyards, etc.) should we taste it?


@dianabaur there's wine in Umbria?

@brigolante Umbria has really started coming out for wine. World-class sagrantinos. Whites from Orvieto, Torgiano moving past table wine.

@MadelineJ @brigolante white wine from Orvieto is my favorite Italian wine.

@brigolante A great way to discover umbrian wine is with a day tour, big and tiny vintners covered. Try @discoverumbria or @gustowinetours.

@gustowinetours @vinoumbria @discoverumbria 1 one 4 us I think! Sagrantino di Montefalco --- I'll just throw that one out there for starters!

@NG_Rome @brigolante Ah, Orvieto white… many a fond evening.

@gustowinetours The Sagrantino Passito and for something along the same lines but different Passito di Merlot by the Dionigi boys !Drooling!

@discoverumbria have you ever tried Scialo by Dionigi, the white passito from grechetto?

@vinoumbria yes, the De Fil Vernaccia is great by the fire, or at the table, or…

@gustowinetours @discoverumbria Um-I'm embarrassed 2 say that I've tried all of Dionigi's wines, a lot and many times over!! Excellent cantina.

@vinoumbria So true. Love the wines from the North - Umbrian wine little seen outside this region, let alone across the border!!

@travel_content Citta di Castello, up in the north in the foothills of the Apennines and the Tuscan border.

@ebuie Sagrantino di Montefalco!


Q6 What are the best Umbrian towns and festivals?


@travel_content Citta di Castello - 25th Dec Father Christmas in a Canoe. Always loved this one.

@brigolante Wow, casting wide net. Some faves are bevagna, montefalco, norcia, castiglione del lago. try here: http://www.borghitalia.it.

@brigolante Fave festivals: medieval Mercato delle Gaite in Bevagna and Calendimaggio in Asissi.

@gustowinetours I can multitask! Fave by a long way - Bevagna in June - Mercato delle Gaite (that how it's spelt?!)

@brigolante Fave festivals: food Onion in Cannara, Eurochocolate in Perugia

@italiamelissa I am fascinated by the pagentry of Calendimaggio in Assisi. Che spettacolo!

@travel_content for festas, Gubbio has got to be worth a visit, crossbow events, racing saints, outdoor concerts in 2000 year theatre.

@dreamofitaly I have heard the onion festival in Cannara is great.

@brigolante Fave festivals: music Umbria jazz in Perugia, Blues at Lake Trasimeno, classical during Sagra Umbra Musicale.

@NG_Rome @travel_content @brigolante for festas Gubbio crossbows, racing saints, outdoor concerts

@gustowinetours @dreamofitaly It's an amazing, if not rather smelly festa - excellent fun - even tried onion gelato!

@brigolante @travel_content Of course, Gubbio is just one big festival the entire month of May!

@travel_content @brigolante anywhere in Umbria throughout the summer is great at some point if you have a medieval costume and need a festival.

@SabineRuns Castiglione del Lago is my favorite!

@italiamelissa so fun everyone is involved: I recall u recognized your hairdresser in costume, in a blog I wrote! @brigolante kids dressing up.

@seeyouinitaly Cheese rolling on Pasquetta, monday after Easter in Panicale. weather permitting in NYTimes.

@brigolante I have always meant to make it to Panicale to see that!


Personal Q for @brigolante: What's it like to be an expat in Umbria and to run vacation rentals?

@brigolante Expat life in general has become much easier now that we are all so connected...it was very isolating in the beginning…I love my biz, can't imagine doing anything else. That said, there are days I ask myself why I busted my ass to get a degree.


Feedback:

@MadelineJ great tips about Umbria from @brigolante and others on today's #italychat. Thanks @dreamofitaly!

@discoverumbria Great time on #italychat thanks to @dreamofitaly @brigolante. Thanks!

@jasonparrish loved today's #italychat. Looking forward to next week's. (every other week)



Photo by Mike of Surrey, flickr.com

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