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Eating & Drinking

  • Although cooking in Perugia, the capital of Umbria, is resolutely regional, the high proportion of foreign students and visitors means that there is more than a nod to international tastes. The presence of so many students helps keep restaurant prices down and can make the mood more informal.

    Along with Umbrian barbecued or roast meats, freshwater fish from nearby Lake Trasimeno may also be on the menu. The proximity of Norcia, famed for its Umbrian charcuterie, means that cold cuts are to the fore as antipasti, from mortadella to capocollo salami.  As in Tuscany, Chianina cattle are prized so the succulent meat features strongly, as does wild boar, venison and spit-roasted porchetta.

    Given that this is `the green heart of Italy,’ local cuisine makes full use of truffles, wild beet, wild asparagus and wild mushrooms, along with sought-after Umbrian olive oil, herbs and legumes. Spelt from Spoleto, lentils and black truffles from Norcia, beans from Foligno and saffron from Citta del Pieve find their way into savoury dishes. As in Tuscany, seasonality is key, with asparagus risotto signalling spring but truffled pasta more common in autumn. Try the speciality breads, a refreshing change from Tuscan blandness. Umbrian bread is far more varied and ranges from brustengo, oil-fried bread with bacon or rosemary, to pan caciato, made with pecorino cheese and walnuts. Umbrian wines are far less known than their Tuscan rivals but mostly deliver in terms of variety and value.

  • Al Mangiar Bene

    Set just off bustling Corso Vannucci, this inviting, well-priced inn delivers on all fronts. With its vaulted brick ceilings and friendly mood, it feels like a genuine Slow Food citadel, which it is. The produce is sourced in Umbria or Tuscany, with the name of each cheese-maker and cattle-producer listed. From juicy steaks to herb tarts, truffled pasta and pizzas, the traditional menu is pretty faultless.

    Address: Via della Luna 21, 06122 Perugia

  • Antica Trattoria San Lorenzo

    This romantic, upmarket restaurant offers more than candlelight and sweet nothings. On the menu is creative regional cuisine, from chestnut risotto to dishes made with Norcia black truffle, or a seafood tasting menu. Wine-pairing is available on request, with suggestions from the charming sommelier.

    Address: Piazza Dante 19A, 06122 Perugia

  • La Bottega del Vino

    This cosy, quirky, welcoming wine bar does decent, good-value food, well-matched to regional and classic Italian wines. Typical dishes include home-made pasta, including with smoked duck. The liveliness and laidback mood compensate for service sometimes being a bit slapdash.

    Address: Via del Sole 1, 06122 Perugia

  • La Locanda del Cardinale (Assisi)

    Decorated in what Italians call an elegant-rustic style, this vaulted, frescoed, fine-dining restaurant lives upto its billing and prices. The tasting menu might include such dishes as Jerusalem artichoke soup, mushroom risotto and pork belly. Glass floors reveal the remains of a Roman domus.

    Address: Piazza del Vescovado 8, 06081 Assisi

  • Ristorante Nicolao (Gubbio)

    Set in a 17th-century monastery, the look is that classic Italian blend of heritage with a sophisticated sheen. mixing old stone, exposed beams, oak tables and contemporary art. This fine-dining spot serves beautifully presented seasonal cuisine, with both creative and Umbrian options.

    Address: Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini, via Tifernate 06024 Gubbio

  • Alcatraz (Gubbio)

    Put the world to rights in this alternative inn, more hippy than hipster. The inn is basic and bohemian in mood but serves traditional, organic food. Tuck into an antipasti buffet, tagliolini with asparagus, beetroot soup or beet-stuffed ravioli. Mains range from steaks to chicken and zucchini kebabs.

    Address: Localita Santa Cristina, 06020 Gubbio

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