Around Northern Italy in a Fiat Panda

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The Contessa and the Commendatore Visit the Home Country

Tuesday Oct. 16: Firenze ⇒ Purugia ⇒ Torgiano

food & lodging

Food & lodging notes

A Left Firenze after picking up our laundry in via del Palazzuolo. It was ready as promised and the lady wished us buon viaggio.

The journey to Torgiano where we had reservations for dinner and a room was quite long. We stopped in Perugia, a walled city with a fine spaghetti of autostrada exits and circumferential roads. We spun off in the wrong direction but recovered ourselves and found our tortuous way up to the citta alta. The town was in the process of going home to lunch and we decided to follow their sensible example and found La Taverna, recommended in both Bantam and Red.

This was the only day in which a in perugia we ate lunch as the Italians do, an hour-and-a-half feast at midday. It was undeniably pleasant, but we had not the opportunity to follow it off with a nap, which is also part of the Italian afternoon shutdown. With the elaborate meal that evening, and the usual Hotel Azalee breakfast, it was our “heaviest” day.

Finding our way into Perugia alta was instructive; we were getting pretty good at this by now. Once inside the gates we navigated for the high ground. Parked when we saw Corso Cavour. (Cavour is present in every town and is usually the most important street, or perhaps second to Viale Garibaldi. It’s like Washington Street and Lincoln Avenue.) Walked a short block on an upward gradient and emerged in the Piazza del Duomo. Piece of cake.

A We went on to visit the chapel and meeting rooms of a society of bankers. The frescos are fine.
K On to Torgiano where Giorgio Lungarotti has his vineyards and where he has established a 5-star restaurant and conference center, Le Tre Vassele. The town is quite old and bears a resemblance to Gattinara, but more compact. Le Tre Vassele seems to be built into the walls of the town and rambles on a number of levels, including cellars and sequestered courtyards. The service, food, and ambiance were wonderful.

We dressed for dinner k at tre vesele this evening, the only such occasion on the trip. We wandered the rambling interconnected buildings and cellars and walked about the town. Le Tre Vassele is the epitome of low-key; its entrance looks like any of the other doors on its block, and isn’t marked by any sign visible from a car. The hostelry is built into and around the ancestral property of M. Lungarotti’s wife, whose family ruled the surrounding region in earlier days. Just down the block is a tiny chapel where we saw a group of women attending an evening worship service, probably a sodality.

Local artisans have opened a high-level craft shop nearby that operates somehow in conjunction with Le Tre Vassele, at which we bought a nifty wooden cricket for our godchild Chandra. They sold complex woven fabrics, hand-made paper, etc. Down the block was a majolica pottery also connected with Le Tre Vassele. On display were large pieces such as tureens and many-branched candelabra decorated in the motifs of flowers, vines, and sea monsters that are characteristic of Tuscan majolica.

We had time before dinner to sit at ease in one of the comfortable public rooms of Le Tre Vassele where a waiter brought us Torre de Giano, Lungarotti’s white wine, whose name is a pun on its town of origin. The room began filling with large young men. A soccer team sponsored by Toyota was stopping there for the evening. Most of them seemed not to have necks.

Strange to say, but it wasn’t until this quiet time before dinner that I began to believe it possible that M. Lungarotti might have in his cellars the very vintage which I had loved years before. I had expected to have a lovely meal and to catch up on what Lungarotti wines had become in the ensuing years. The anticipation was quickly satisfied after we were seated; the wine list showed every Lungarotti wine ever produced, most in depth for many years back. The earliest Rubesco Riserva listed was “my” 1974. See the food & lodging notes for further rhapsodizing on one of the high points of the trip.