It's no secret that Italy is my favorite. Anyone who knows me knows that Sicily is my true love. But maybe not everyone knows that Umbria is very, very high on the list of my favorite places in the world. The misty landscapes around Todi might have something to do with it, as well as the views of Lake Trasimeno and the most succulent food in all of Italy (along Sicily, that has to be said). Todi was the sweet end of our trip to Umbria, chosen by chance, or better yet, by the location of a lovely b&b we stayed at.* Agriturismo Acquaviva is the property of my dreams, surrounded by olive groves and undulating meadows, overlooking Todi, with a stone house and a sheep that was once rescued from becoming an Eastern roast and now thinks it's a dog. The owner, Alessia Bonci, welcomed us with her dog Freccia, her homemade crostata and a tip for a restaurant worth its weight in gold. As soon as we came out of the car, Freccia rushed in like a, well, arrow (as her name suggest), barking ferociously and pretending to be a sharp dog. She turned out to be a real sweetheart and a nice evening company.
On our first evening in Todi we went to the restaurant Alessia proposed, and once again listening to local advice and not having fixed plans during traveling proved to be right for us. At Agriturismo Fontana delle Pere we felt a bit like attending a wedding, with no menu, and the dishes that just kept coming in: cold cuts and cheese, homemade pasta, rice with vegetables, focaccie with potatoes and tomatoes, spectacular roast chicken and pork, grandma's cake and coffee in a giant moka that circled around the tables after dessert. Most of the food is grown and prepared by the family who runs the restaurant, and we really enjoyed both the familiar atmosphere and the simple, home-made taste of the food. We bought two jars of their wildflower honey to take home, and each time I tasted the honey it reminded me of Umbria (and also it was the tastiest honey I've ever tried).
The next day we drove up and down the winding local road to Todi, passing through the fields, vineyards and olive groves, catching a glimpse of the town now and then. When we came to Todi, a thick fog (or was it a cloud?) covered the medieval main square like a blanket, making it look even more timeless. Without the bar and shop awnings and the modern clothing of the passers-by, it could have as well been the 16th century. What started as an introduction to fall, changed into a crisp sunny day, perfect for walking down the town streets and enjoying the views of surrounding countryside. We sat for a lunch in a trattoria that was really nothing special, but we did enjoy dipping the cantuccini cookies in the sweet dessert liquor. There are a couple of deli shops on the main square, where we bought a couple of bottles of local wine, cookies, and spices as presents for our families. We thought we would buy more wine in one of the wineries surrounding Todi, but it turned out that the bottles from the same producer were more expensive in their own winery than in the shops on the main square!
In the afternoon we took a long walk around the property we stayed at- if you are looking for something in particular, you'd think there's not much to see and do there, but if you enjoy the afternoon play of shadows and light in the olive groves, on the oak leaves, on the ploughed fields; the moist mushroomy smell of the forest floor; the views of the wavy hills, then it turns out to be one of the most beautiful afternoons of your trip. While we were passing by a lovely little chapel at the neighbouring property, a little dog ran out towards us, and as I panicked a bit that it would attack us (I know, it was just a small dog), she sat right in front of me and started waving her tail. She happily jumped first in mine, then in Luka's lap, and just like that she became one of our favorite memories from that trip. Later we found out from Alessia, that her name was Perla, how beautiful!
That evening we spent by a fireplace in the common space of our b&b. As we were the only guests at the beginning of October (and I can't think of a better time to visit, with crisp foggy mornings and sunny days, the weather that in my opinion fits perfectly to this region and especially to its cuisine), we enjoyed the last evening of our Umbria road trip, chatted with the owner Alessia, cuddled with her dog Freccia. Luka made a simple pasta dinner, we were still a bit too full from last night's feast. The next morning, before heading back home, we went to visit one of the wineries, but neither the welcome, nor the price and quality ratio didn't excite us, so I will just share a couple of photos we took there, as the views and the atmosphere were quite beautiful.
It is safe to say that I love all of our trips, but simple, peaceful Umbria, its cuisine, crafts and dreamy landscapes captured a special piece of my heart, and of course, I want to return. Maybe even this fall, who knows? There is always this doubt in me- if I keep returning to the same place I loved, I'd miss on new places, tastes and people to love. But this year, we returned both to Japan and Sicilian island of Marettimo, and both trips were even more meaningful to us than the first times we visited. This time we were not only travelers, but we learned more about how people in these places live and made real friendships, a thing I love most about traveling. How about you, what are your thoughts on returning to the same places you once traveled to? Do you love that feeling of being almost at home, to observe what has changed and what stayed the same as you left it?
*This is not a sponsored post, I wrote about b&b we stayed at and the restaurant we had dinner at simply because I think they're fantastic and worth sharing.