Special Autumn in Umbria
Three small villages, Giano of Umbria, Gualdo Cattaneo and Montone, become real embassies of high quality products: extra virgin olive oil DOP Umbria, Sagrantino DOCG, forest products and Cicotto di Grutti.
Umbria is the land of medieval villages. Many known, but also many less known, well preserved, with walls that protect them, castles and fortresses to visit. Umbria is a land of great food and wine products, such as Sagrantino DOCG, Olio E.v.o. Dop Umbria, forest products, chestnuts, truffles, mushrooms, is a land of art, food and spirituality.
In November, on the occasion of Frantoi Aperti (from 1 to 25 November, www.frantoiaperti.net ) Giano dell’Umbria and Gualdo Cattaneo become an important district of extra virgin olive oil during, ten are the mills to visit in the area and where you can taste freshly pressed oil.
Gualdo Cattaneo, “castle perched on the foothills of the Martani Mountains, between the rivers Puglia and Attone” is located between the Umbrian valley and the Tiber valley. Unique is the presence of a series of castles and fortresses that, in the medieval period, were a real defensive system and today can be considered an open-air museum: Castle of Barattano, Marcellano, Ceralto and Grutti. The most important monument is the Fortress, a triangular fortress with a central keep and two side washers connected to each other through a system of underground tunnels. It was built between 1494 and 1498, at the behest of the city of Foligno, designed by Francesco di Bartolomeo di Pietrasanta. The fortress, which over time has not undergone any major interventions, retains its original appearance.
On 3 and 4 November in Gualdo Cattaneo there will be “Knowledge of Bread, Taste of Oil. White and green in the Castles” ( http://www.saperedipanesaporediolio.it). In the two days will be organized a series of events in the city center: children’s entertainment, markets of local products and crafts, concerts and cooking shows. The program also includes itineraries between castles and oil mills where you can taste the extra virgin olive oil just pressed and the typical Cicotto di Grutti, Slow Food Presidium. Motorhome owners can stay free of charge at the Acquarossa Park and enjoy the many activities scheduled thanks to special shuttles. There will also be conferences and moments of in-depth study and this year’s novelties a brunch among the olive trees of a castle.
Not far from Gualdo Cattaneo there is the village of Giano dell’Umbria, with the Abbey of San Felice, a place of spirit and prayer, a masterpiece of Romanesque art of the twelfth century, while the cloister and convent were built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Here the two most typical aspects of the whole Umbrian territory, the mystical and the enogastronomic, merged harmoniously: the monks, in fact, joined their wise intellectual activity and prayer, that of the cultivation of the olive tree, not only increased, but also enriched with a new variety “the sweet San Felice”. The Abbey gives its name to the local cultivar that, with its sweetness, characterizes the extra virgin olive oil of the Martani Mountains. These plants, perennial sources of life and beauty, are still metaphorically paid homage, as guardians of stories and traditions. From 1 to 4 November and on 24 and 25 November, in fact, the city celebrates its olive trees and new oil with the “Mangiaunta” and the end of the olive harvest with the “Re-enactment of the Feast of Frasca” (www.visitgianoumbria.it ) the so-called “buonfinita” during which there will be the traditional parade of floats and pickers in traditional costumes to commemorate the “Feast of Frasca”.
During the two events you can participate in tours to wineries and visits to mills in production with tastings of freshly pressed oil, guided tours of the cultural emergencies of the area, conferences. There are two new features of this year, in each mill visits and tastings will be enlivened by concerts, also will be offered a brunch among the olive trees in the olive grove in front of the Abbey of S. Felice followed by a guided tour of the Abbey and a walk to the Castle of Castagnola which is accessed through the ancient door in local stone on which stands the eagle of Todi to continue through tiny alleys and medieval houses locked within the ancient walls, allow you to make a journey back in time. The only sacred building that we find within the walls is the church of Santa Croce located at the beginning of the village. Following the tour of the walls you can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and the Martani Mountains, among olive trees, oaks and cypresses you can also see the imposing and severe Abbey of San Felice.
Moving to the north of the region we find the village of Montone, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Immersed in the green hills in the area of northern Umbria known as the “Upper Tiber Valley”, Montone is surrounded by massive walls that give the whole appearance of solidity illegitimate by the towering bell towers of the municipality and various churches. Narrow and winding roads that run through the center in every sense, with stairs that allow you to easily overcome the steepest points, in a succession of unforgettable images of overlapping architecture, rampant arches, views that open onto squares and gardens rich in light and color. The best itinerary to propose in Montone is to get lost in the discovery of unforeseen sites, to enjoy the vast views of the wonderful surrounding landscape and signs of life pulsating, but quiet, in the craft shops and huts perched on the ancient city walls.
In November, from the 1st to the 4th, Montone celebrates its products with the “Festa del Bosco” (http://www.comunemontone.it/ ), a market exhibition of handicrafts and forest products that is very special because it is set up in old cellars, shops, unusual spaces reopened to host small producers, craftsmen’s work and exhibitions. It will be an opportunity for a real census of small companies of local production. In addition to the products of the surrounding woods, such as truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, at the “Festa del Bosco” you can meet the Shepherd of Montone, Sardinian shepherd who moved to Umbria in the 60s alongside producers of cured meats from local chain, jams and honeys, the white potato of Pietralunga (DECO Denominazione Comunale di Origine) produced by the company Pagliarino: young producers of potatoes in the old, natural way, so the ploughing is done with animals, the potatoes are also sold in processed products of the original: jams and liquors with potatoes.
During the four days, in the three taverns of the historical districts, many tastings of forest products and various shows, among which the documentary entitled “Con i piedi per terra” (With your feet on the ground), a journey through Italy, directed by Andrea Pierdicca and Nicolò Vivareli, an investigation carried out by resuming daily activities in the fields, woods, houses and markets, the documentary tells how to make income in a sustainable way, honoring the sense of belonging to the territory and the culture of knowledge thousands of years old. There will also be music in the streets and entertainment for children, and new this year’s shuttle train through the woods at the foot of Montone will go up to the fortress to bring visitors in the city center.