Feast among black truffles and liquid gold in Umbria, Italy

Umbria-BonVivantTravelWith its gorgeous picturesque landscapes of rolling hills and ancient villages with cobblestone streets, Umbria could easily be the backdrop for any fairy tale. A little off the beaten track compared with nearby Tuscany, this central Italian region is home to farms that stretch across acres of land, olive groves and vineyards with wine-making techniques that date back to medieval times.

With year-round lush and fertile green pastures for animals to graze and crops to grow, Umbria is aptly known by its moniker, “The Green Heart of Italy.”

What better setting could there be to enjoy Italian cuisine? Inspired by its rich environment, Umbrian cuisine is known to be ‘rustic,’ traditional Italian fare.

Among the many locally grown treasures is the much sought-after black truffle, used to compliment many Umbrian dishes such as strangozzi, wheat pasta grown in the region. Black truffle grows wildly from March to October. It is impossible to farm, so instead it is found with the help of dogs trained for ‘truffle hunting.’ The dogs can smell the fungi where it grows naturally in woodlands.

In the off season, you can enjoy black truffle flavours infused with olive oils. Home to groves of olive trees, Umbria is known for producing some of Italy’s finest olive oils – so rich in colour and flavor that even the locals call it ‘liquid gold’.

Shavings of black truffle are often added to locally produced sheep’s and cow’s milk cheeses, for which the Umbrian region is also well-known for. The artisanal pecorina, made fresh from the milk of sheep grazing in those fertile valleys and surrounding mountains, is enjoyed in local antipasto, pastas, or simply with bread.

And when it seems it just cannot get any better for a gourmand traveler, there is chocolate produced in the medieval town, Perguia. There is even an annual chocolate festival in October, as well as tours of chocolate factories, and even chocolate-making classes.

Want more? Click here to find more info on a culinary excursion in Umbria before boarding the Oceania with Chef Christine Cushing