In addition to our desire to explore the many hill towns that surround the house there is always the crucial question – where do we stop for lunch (pranzo)? We typically organize our excursions to encompass touring and exploration in the morning, followed by a lovely pranzo in some yet undiscovered trattoria, and then afterwards slowly meander through the hills towards home for a siesta prior to preparing our evening meal. This would be a typical and satisfying day for us.On this particular day we choose Citta della Pieve, the birthplace of one of the most important Renaissance painters, Pietro Vannucci (Perugino) for our exploration.
The city retains some of his most important works such as The Adoration of the Magi of the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi, The Baptism of Christ of the Cathedral, The Descent from the Cross of the Diocesan Civic Museum of Santa Maria dei Servi.
Citta della Pieve is a delight to the eyes with its well ordered streets and display of flowers that adorn many windows. As this is a stone city and there is precious little space for gardens, the occupants take great pride displaying flowers in their window boxes and on doors steps expressing a friendly rivalry between neighbors as to whose is the most imaginative.
Citta’ della Pieve is also home to the crocus flower from which saffron is produced. Each year the city hosts a Zafferano Festival when the flower is harvested in the fall.
Human cultivation and use of saffron reaches back more than 3,500 years. It takes 4,500 flowers to make just one ounce of saffron as there are only three strands of saffron in each flower and each one has to be picked by hand. This makes it one of the most expensive spices in the world. With its bitter taste, hay-like fragrance, and slight metallic notes, saffron has been used as a seasoning, fragrance, dye, and medicine..
All this culture and exploration was making us hungry so we migrated over to Trattoria della Coppetta Bruno where our caretaker had recommended we try their cacio e pepe. It is amazing how so few ingredients (cheese, pasta, pepper and a bit of water) can blend together and form the most silky sauce that encases each strand of pasta with creamy, cheesy goodness. Plus the table service where you are served from a large wheel of parmigiano enhances the taste and adds to the visual experience.
We rode back through the hills of Umbria sated and satisfied with our cultural and culinary excursion!!