Umbria: where eating is an art

Local specialities include quiches, salamis, cured meats and cheeses, together with oven and spit-roasted meats, often garnished with the black truffles that are the true culinary glory of the region. Perugia is the gateway to a world of flavours and sights where time appears to have stood still. Like the cured ham produced in Norcia, a town famous for the genuine quality of its cured meats. And like the lentils from Castelluccio and the spelt from Spoleto, the heart of many a healthy soup; and like the red onions of Cannara, the black celery of Trevi and the red potatoes of Colfiorito.

Meat is particularly good in Umbria, starting from the pork, which is at its very best in whole spit-roast herb-flavoured porchetta, that Umbria claims to have invented. Then there is the beef from the white-coated Chianina cattle, which produces wonderful steaks to grill over a charcoal barbecue, and game, mainly hare, woodcock and pigeon. All cooked in the golden olive oil the region is justly famous for and washed down with some of the best wines in Italy; hearty reds like Torgiano and Sagrantino di Montefalco, and whites like Orvieto, long-favoured by popes and emperors.