A journey into the culinary heart of Umbria definitely means a stop in Perugia. Not only a beautiful city, Perugia also vaunts a delicious local cuisine that reflects both its landscape and history.
Umbrian cuisine features an assortment of quality cured meats, as well as excellent homemade pasta, tasty sauces and traditional desserts. Let's discover what to eat in and around Perugia on your next trip to Italy!
Typical products from Perugia
Without a doubt, one of the most precious culinary products in Perugia is the truffle. Throughout the entire Umbrian region you can find black truffle, and, more rarely, the king of tartufi, the white. The pungent tuber is utilized ubiquitously in Perugian and Umbrian cuisine to flavor first courses, like stringozzi, a long and thick pasta, or main courses of meat.
Homemade stringozzi at the Agriturismo Marilena La Casella
Don't miss a taste of the area’s popular version of focaccia called testo. Made from a recipe of water, flour, baking soda and salt, nothing more, its goodness is in its simplicity.
Testo is an excellent alternative to bread and goes well with both vegetables and meat. If you're wondering what testo means, it's the surface on which the dough is traditionally baked and derives from the Latin word testum, which was the brick floor where flour was cooked in ancient Rome.
Amongst the main courses, many restaurants feature palombacci, a pigeon dish popular in Umbria as well as Tuscany. The Perugian version is salted and peppered outside and inside, wrapped in slices of prosciutto and cooked in an earthenware pot. Pigeon is also found in other preparations, like cooked under ashes or roasted on a spit in the more classic dish alla ghiotta.
Sweet notes in Perugia
Moving on to desserts, in Perugia you can taste two authentic specialties. One of the best known is brustengolo, a traditional poor man’s recipe of corn flour loaded with raisins, hazelnuts, walnuts, apples, pine nuts and sometimes dried figs. This heavy but wholesome treat is a guardian of local peasant culture.
Competing for the title “sweet of Perugia”, is the ciaramicola. An Easter treat, it’s shaped like a doughnut, covered with meringue and sprinkled with different colored candies which represent the five districts of Perugia.
Try the best Umbrian sweets at the Agriturismo Il Melograno
Typical dishes of Assisi
While you're exploring the countryside around Perugia, don’t miss a visit to stunning Assisi. The magnificent city of San Francesco is a gem that sparkles in the already picturesque landscape of Umbria.
In Assisi you will find many of the ingredients and dishes we’ve already mentioned, like truffles, stringozzi and palombacci, as well as a wide variety of meats and cheeses that make a perfect meal or just a snack. There are also two specialties that identify Assisi in particular:
The first is the Franciscan pagnotta, a bread with raisins and almonds often paired with local San Francesco wine. The second, and perhaps most famous, is the rocciata di Assisi, whose name refers to the dessert’s round, rock-like shape. A kind of strudel, it’s made from a thin sheet of dough filled with dried fruit soaked in Vin Santo and flavoured with cocoa and cinnamon. A rich and comforting treat - especially in autumn!
What to eat in Foligno
Rocciata di Assisi can also be enjoyed in Foligno, in addition to its savory counterpart, fojata, which is filled with spinach, chard, chicory, eggs and grated pecorino cheese.
This pleasant town in the province of Perugia still retains its medieval architecture and traditions. Of particular note is the Giostra della Quintana, a sporting event organized in June and September during which restaurants and trattorias prepare traditional recipes from the seventeenth century.
Year-round you can enjoy local favorites in Foligno such as spaghetti col rancetto, seasoned with bacon, tomato and marjoram, and miaccia, a blood pudding made with Sagrantino and candied fruit.