The cruise part of the vacation is over and now it is time to go explore Umbria. The region is situated in the middle of Italy, between Tuscany and Lazio. It is a hilly region and as we discovered while driving through it, it is quite picturesque.
Since we arrived on a Sunday and on Mother’s Day to boot, we decided to pickup our rental car at the Leonardo da Vinci airport instead of the port of Civitavecchia. So we took the cruise transfer bus to the airport and got the car, a FIAT Punto. The car turned out to be big enough for our luggage and quite comfortable to drive. It has a manual transmission, and it took me about five minutes to get proficient with the three pedals. But I had learned to drive with a manual gear shift, so it all came back and off we went.
We had ordered a GPS system and Linda became the official navigator. The roads in Italy are good and it is really not very difficult to drive there, as long as you are always aware of your surroundings. That means the other drivers.
Italy has had a very wet winter and early spring, so everything is green and in bloom. What a pretty sight! Driving directly it should have taken about three and a half hours for us to get to Perugia, but we decided to stop for lunch. The first attempt to find a restaurant was not successful. We left the highway and started driving through little villages without finding any place to eat since we had no idea where we were going. Finally we decided that the best way was to use the GPS. And so we found ourselves on top of a hill in the charming town of Todi. The restaurant we had picked following Fodor’s Italy 2011 book was Ristorante Umbria. We parked in Piazza Garibaldi, a small side square in the town, and walked the hundred yards or so to the restaurant. The restaurant was not on the main square, but not difficult to find down a side street.
Soon we were seated at a table on the covered veranda. The view of the valley below and the surrounding hills was beautiful. There was a table of Americans, obviously an extended family of nine, and a table with four British people. The rest were Italians enjoying their Sunday lunch. We started out with a plate of Antipasto Misto, local cheeses, salami and olives, and we also ordered both a bottle of water and a bottle of Colle Morra red wine from the local area. The wine was really, really good and at 18 euros a very good buy. For lunch Linda ordered Pappardelle al cinghiale, pasta with boar sauce. She remembered the sauce from our last visit to Tuscany and was eager to repeat the experience. Umbria is a truffle producing area of Italy, so I had tagliatelle al tartufo nero, or pasta with black truffle sauce. It was fantastic to see that they had not only used the truffle in the sauce, but there were actually quite a few truffle slices adorning the plate. As we were enjoying lunch we decided that living in Italy would be a choice to consider. Todi is a niceplace and we decided we might come back to see more of the village, since today we do not have the time.
In Perugia we are staying in an apartment on a hill opposite the city. We had a little trouble finding the place we had reserved. Two things contributed to the difficulty. First of all I had turned off my cell phone, so last minute instructions from Alessio, our host went unheard. Second the Italians have the habit of numbering houses according to the sequence in which they are built. So if a house is built on a large property and get number 18 for example, the next house built on the street will get number 20. But then the owner of number 18 subdivides his property and builds two more houses. At this point his first house gets 18/a, and the other two get 18/b and 18/c. The villa's address is 18/c but it is recessed from the main street, so I could not see it. I finally turned on my cell phone, got Alessio's message and directions and then finding the villa was quite simple.
The apartment is quite nice. It has a big living room/dining room, a kitchen angle with all one needs to cook, a large bedroom and a bathroom with a shower. The balcony offers a very good view of Perugia while on the side there is a private covered patio with a swing, table and chairs, and even a barbeque pit. We do have the use of the swimming pool, but the temperature is not high enough to take advantage of it yet.
After the sumptuous lunch we had a light dinner and went to bed reasonably early. Tomorrow we will explore the city.