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1/25/2017

Wine: a story of a migration

The history of the vine is a story of a migration from the Middle East, the cradle of wine, through three main paths: the first, via the Central-Western Europe; the second through our Alps; the third and probably the most important through the water, to our Peninsula from the thousand islands in the Mediterranean sea.

The first example of vines date probably back to 50 million years ago. The kind of vine that we have today, called scientifically vitis vinifera to 5000-6000 B.C.

The root of the Italian word vino, wine, comes from voin - from the old Indo-European language - mother of almost all the languages currently spoken in our continent,  showing once again that this great plant has its origin in Mesopotamia, the land between rivers, whose borders correspond in part to Iraq nowadays.

Some millennia (!) later, thanks to the Greeks, the Romans and here in Umbria the Etruscans, the wine spreads in the Mediterranean, winning the challenge for the most popular alcoholic drink, with other beverages derived from the fermentation of sugars, such as beer. Beer, infact, was loved by the Egyptians and it is considered by the archaeologist the national drink of this ancient civilization since 3000 B.C.

Between the 4th and 2th century B.C. the wines from Greece were widely imported in Italy and considered very hi-end products in that period, the very best available on the market. For this reason the adjective "Greek" for a wine became later an equivalent of excellence, even if not produced on the Hellenic soil, as for example the name of our Umbrian white "Grechetto".

During the Roman times and the conquest of Gallia, vine was widely cultivated in this province of Rome. Here in ancient France terracotta amphorae were gradually replaced by wooden barrels, easier to carry.

Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, England - where the Romans implanted the vine (probably the weather was milder in that area) - abandoned this cultivation and began importing from the neighbouring France.
In the Middle Ages the political relationships between the two countries deteriorated and the British started the import from Portugal (Port), Spain (Jerez) and Italy again, with Marsala in Sicily. In these areas they helped the developing of the so-called fortified wines, obtained adding alcohol or concentrate must to the wine to stop the fermentation process and to keep it more stable for the long journey through the seas.

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, France became the main centre for wine production. Despite Italy lost the political leadership in Europe, wine making and vine growing never stopped in our Peninsula.
In that period in Umbria vineyards were protected by local town (Comune) laws, as for instance in Orvieto where in A.D. 1295 the Consuls named vineyards guardian whose task was to protect and control this important cultivation.
In Montefalco, in the monasteries, the friars started producing Sagrantino, the sacred wine for the holy celebrations, in its traditional sweet version, the passito, with the very same technique of drying the grapes used today by our winemakers.

In Europe viticulture was in danger in several times during its long history: in 1709 because if the extreme cold or between 1800 and 1900 when the invasion of phylloxera, insect that attacks the root of the European vine, destroyed a huge number of vineyards all over the continent.

The last century, until very recent times, is unquestionably dominated by France, whose long experience in producing high quality wines for its kings made its products the most well-known in terms of top quality all over the word for many decades.
Despite the huge fame of our neighbours and their main position on the global market, Italy in few years, starting from the 60's and then the 80's, was able to make incredible progresses in modern wine making and to became the most important competitor of France...or maybe is it the opposite, now?

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Would you like to know more on wine and its amazing history?
Follow our blog or...
book a wine tour with us in Umbria conducted by local certified Sommeliers

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12/27/2016

2017 belongs to us! Umbria proud and resilient

Dear Friends and Followers,

2016 has been a peculiar year for Umbria: in the first 9 months tourism has increased around the 4% [+3,96 arrivals*] in our region, data that clearly show the success of this destination, more and more in the international travellers' "bucket list". [*official data Regione Umbria www.regione.umbria.it]
At the same time 2016 has been also unforgettable for Umbria  for the dramatic earthquakes that have seriously damaged -on October 30th- the ancient town of Norcia and the Apennine villages, breaking our hearts.
These events, very tragic,  have caused very important problems to the economy of the other  99% of Umbria, untouched by the quake, but compromised by the misinformation by the media which have broadcast for weeks unreal news, showing devastation all over Central Italy, while the part affected was just a very small [although beautiful] area located on the  South-Eastern border of the region.


While most of the media exploited the tragedy, despite the pain for the loss of important monuments and their homes, "Norcini" [people from Norcia] have never left their home-town, keeping feeding their animals, re-opening their little factories of prosciutto and cured meat and their shops, when possible. A great example of resilience for all of us.
And that's not all. Few days ago on December 22th, the main part of the historic centre of the town has already been re-opened. All the damaged buildings have already been reinforced, all the ruins removed and the masterpieces of art secured in other regional museums.
Those who have visited our region and fell in love with it and the people, know very well how strong and proud Umbrians are. This positive attitude in these difficult events is just another evidence of the immense love and respect that we have for our Land. For our region and the other areas of Central Italy, an influx of tourism right now and in the upcoming tourist season 2017 would help the local economy and the fund rebuilding efforts to bring Norcia and the other places back to their original magnificence.

Todi and the rest of Umbria is completely ready for visitors. For this festive period our municipality in collaboration with local associations has set a very nice ice-skating rink in the main Piazza, already opened to locals and tourists.
This year there's also a web-cam on our historic centre, in case you'd like taking a look [link below] to our beautiful town in this special time of the year.

Regarding our company, all our wine&food tours are running as usual and we are ready to welcome you as always!


From the Green Heart of Italy, proud and resilient, our best wishes for a wonderful 2017!


Buon Anno!

Alessandra and Leonardo
The Discovering Umbria - sister&brother team

TODI WEBCAM - LIVE STREAMING 

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10/26/2016

Amaro and Piccante: the taste of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For almost 10 years, in this blog, we have spilled rivers of ink to celebrate one of the top products of our Umbria: wine.
We also talked about another great product of our land, the extra virgin olive oil, but not enough.

At the very beginning of the new olive oil season 2016, just started in the region, it's time to make amends and to speak here and now - as we have done several times with wine -  about the taste and the aromas, the so called organoleptic qualities of olive oil, to pay homage to this extraordinary food, that makes us, Umbrians, so proud.


What does "extra virgin" means?
Probably wandering around the shelves of any supermarket abroad, you may have noticed different labels. Well, forget them: they do not exist because the only olive oil that you should buy is the "extra virgin."
Why? Because extra virgin is the only one that
is produced by a simple pressing of the olives. Other grades like “olive oil” are usually made using chemicals or other processes to extract the oil from the olives, or they are just bad extra virgin - like the one named "virgin", without the "extra" in front. In addition, extra virgin oil must meet certain laboratory tests and must taste like fresh olives without any negative tastes that professionals refer to as “defects".

Does extra virgin olive oil always mean high quality oil?
Well, this is a very crucial point. Beyond the label "extra virgin" there's an entire world of very different quality oils. As you can see from the supermarket shelves, you can find some bottles [in Italy] starting at 3,99 up to 12-16 Eur or more per liter in specialized food shops.
Why such a huge difference? The reasons are different and the origin of the olives plays a very important role: "bottled in Italy" is not enough to be a guarantee of quality.

Learn how to taste EVOO with us!
Our senses are the key: "Amaro" and "Piccante"
Despite the consumers are very often disoriented by tricky information like "first press" [there's no second press at all in modern extra virgin olive oil extraction!], Mother Nature gave us, all of us, a nose and a mouth.
The aroma and the taste of an extra virgin olive oil can tell all the important information about its quality to the consumer.
Nose:
In a high level EVOO from Umbria, you may immediately notice the smell of fresh-cut grass, green olive fruit, vegetable notes like fresh artichoke.
Mouth:
The two sensations that are prevalent in a high quality oil are basically two. In Italian we describe it as amaro and piccante. While the second, piccante, refers to a peppery sensation, detected in the throat, the first word amaro can be sometimes "lost in translation". Literally amaro means bitter and maybe in English this adjective could be perceived as negative, while referring to an olive oil, it is very positive. When we say bitter, we talk about a very pleasant bitterness that is associated more to a very dry and clean sensation of a fresh, fruity olive on our palate, very persistent.

Is high quality extra virgin olive oil good for our health? Why?
Yes, it definitely is. Differently from other oils like corn or sunflower, olive oil is the only one that comes from a fresh fruit.

Here the 5 reasons to have it every day:

1. It contains polyphenols, antioxidants that slow the aging of cells down
2. It helps to produce good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to keep the arteries clean
3. It is the only oil that is 100% digestible, supporting the digestive activity and renal function
4. It is a natural anti-inflammatory
5. Used every day it has anti-cancer properties


Interested in learning more? Join us in Umbria!

Our extra virgin olive oil tours run all year round not only during the period of the new oil (mid October - beginning of December).
The olive oil farms and mills we cooperate with offer tasting all year round and visits to the olive groves to learn all the secrets of this great product directly from the producers in person.
Thanks to special stainless steel tanks that preserve the oil from the natural oxidation process, you'll have always the opportunity to taste the amaro and piccante, together with the fresh cut grass and artichokes aroma. It's not a promise, it's a guarantee!

If you are so lucky to be here in Umbria in the month of November, we are cooperating with the local cultural association Brumalia in the organization of an itinerant course in different olive oil mills in the area of Orvieto, during this special period of olive picking and pressing! Contact us for further information!























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8/25/2016

24th August 2016 h. 03.32

Dear friends and followers,
In these days we are receiving many emails and messages from you after the earthquake that hit some areas of Central Italy during the night of the 24th August. We have already replied to all of you who were so nice to contact us on the social media and by email.
We are so moved, thank you!

This is just to inform you all that we are fine and safe.
Our town Todi is more than 100Km from the area of the quake. We felt the strokes and we woke up. In Todi, we remained in our homes during all that night as it was not necessary to stay outside the buildings. As we said, we were very far from the epicenter that was west-northwest of Accumoli in the province of Rieti in the region of Lazio.Our thoughts go to those poor people who have lost their lives, especially in Amatrice, region of Lazio, that is almost completely devasted.


Unfortunately many media are spreading wrong information on the affected areas.
On the other end, many blogs and other independent media, both local and international -  that  really know  the geography of Italy- are informing travellers in a very reliable and professional way in order not to panic, something that professional journalists should do, but don't! Because today is important to "shout" the news, right of wrong, it seems that it doesn't matter...

Among the several independent media, we suggest you to follow the news in English by Dream of Italy TV Show + Travel Newsletter in the link below.

For those who want to donate there are also useful information on Red Cross and other associations who are organizing fund raising campaigns.

LINK: updates-824-italy-earthquake 

Another very informative post has been just put together by our dear friends at Browsing Italy showing a series of very accurate maps to point out the areas seriously hit on the night of the 24th August.

LINK: Italy-earthquake-areas-affected-not-affected


Thanks a lot!

Alessandra and Leonardo
The Discovering Umbria Team



5/13/2016

Todi Fiorita 2016 - Flowerpower in the historic centre

From next Friday 20 to Sunday May 22, 2016 Todi Fiorita, flower and gardening exhibition - organized by the local association Verdetodi and the City Hall of Todi - is back in town!
The event -  ninth edition - is hosting more than fifty exhibitors: farmers, growers, keepers of rare seeds, exterior and interior designers, gardeners, craftsmen, small producers of excellent food and natural cosmetics. 
The event is taking place in the historic center of Todi: Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Garibaldi, San Fortunato's steps, Oberdan Gardens. 

The flower and gardening fair is opening on Friday 20 at 4pm, Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 from 9.30am to 8pm

The programme also includes concerts and art events among the beautiful colours and scents:


Friday MAY 20

4pm –  Opening
Portici Comunali - Vaults of the Municipal buildings

4pm-8pm  –  Finestre aperte su Todi - Open windows on Todi
Painting exhibition by G. Bagli
Bar del Teatro - Theatre bar

5pm –  Live music by Duo Acustico Babacar
Portici Comunali

Saturday MAY 21

9am-8pm  –  Finestre aperte su Todi - Open windows on Todi
Painting exhibition by G. Bagli
Bar del Teatro - Theatre bar

10am  –  Meet up with the American painter Caridad Barragan
Giardini Oberdan

3.30pm – Il mio Fiore: drop-in drawing workshop by Caridad Barragan
Giardini Oberdan

5pm –  Il giardino di Jacopone - Jacopone's garden
Musical and drama show on Jacopone da Todi, friar and poet born in Todi in the Middle Ages.
Following visit to Palazzo Pongelli Gardens and tasting of a local speciality: coratella d'agnello.
Booking required. Info: Todiguide.com cell.     3894246262 – info@todiguide.com
Cloister of San Fortunato - Chiesa di Sant’Ilario – Palazzo Pongelli

6pm -  Live music in Piazza del Popolo by Duo Acustico Babacar

Sunday MAY 22

9am-8pm  –  Finestre aperte su Todi - Open windows on Todi
Painting exhibition by G. Bagli
Bar del Teatro - Theatre bar

3.30pm – Il mio Fiore: drop-in drawing workshop by Caridad Barragan
Giardini Oberdan

5pm  – From Bizet to Morricone through Carlo della Giacoma – Concert
Ensamble Crispolti-Carlo della Giacoma 

Conductor M° Claudio Baffoni
San Fortunato's steps



This ninth edition is devoted to the Biodiversity and the preservation of the Umbrian environment with an area [Vaults of the Municipal Buildings and Piazza Garibaldi] dedicated to ancient tree and fruit varieties, ancient legumes and rare seeds saved from the exinction.


More information [in Italian]: www.todifiorita.it

Official hashtag: #todifiorita

 










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2/08/2016

Umbria: a "plain air" painter's heaven

We are very happy to host a new guest post&interview to our friend Caridad Barragan.
Caridad is a professional painter originally from Southern California, now living and working in Umbria.

Caridad, tell us where are you from and why you “dropped” in Umbria
I’m originally from Anaheim in Southern California, which is where Disneyland is. Like the majority of Americans, my parents are immigrants. My father is from Mexico City and my mother is from Havana. I’ve been living in Italy since 1991. Initially I was living in Veneto, but after 15 years in that cold, damp and foggy Italian province I needed a change of scenery. A dear sculpture friend of mine from Los Angeles was visiting me in the summer of 2005 and invited me down to Porchiano del Monte, a small medieval hamlet perched on a hill overlooking the Tiber Valley. It was love at first sight: the endless views unto the Tuscan and Lazio hills, the peace and tranquillity of the landscape and people living there. And don’t get me talking about the food and wine!So basically after my daughter had finished her elementary school we packed our things into a nice big van and made the trip south.

Tell us more about your work. What’s it like being a professional painter in Umbria?

Umbria is a creative person’s dream! I have friends that are writers, journalists, singers and musicians that have all chosen to live here year round or for some months at a time. There’s a genuineness to the people, landscape and even the air that you breathe that sets the region apart. I often say to my foreign friends that I live in a place that doesn’t exist anymore. It seems as if time has stopped. It’s a place where people actually have the time for the simple and essential things such as cultivating the veggie patch, producing ones own wine & extra virgin olive oil or simply chatting with your neighbor. And ohhh, the landscape! When the weather warms up, Umbria is a plein air painter’s heaven. The light itself is so particular as are the colors of the ever-changing seasons.

Is there anything you found particularly challenging in your profession here? 

"Vineyards" by C.Barragan
Once I decided to move down here from the north, I immediately realized that job opportunities would be a challenge. I knew internet was going to play a fundamental role in creating my livelihood. After having settled down, I decided to begin selling my still life & Umbrian landscape paintings online through Etsy. It has been a learning experience and professional challenge but I find it fascinating to be living in such a tiny town and selling my Umbrian wares in countries such as Japan, Australia & the US.  

Do you have any advice for tourists who want to visit Umbria?  

copyright C.Barragan
Umbria is so rich in history, art, architecture, culinary traditions and natural beauty. It’s got something for everybody. It’s not very well known to the masses which means they’ll be able to take it in slowly and thoroughly. I advise to spend at least 10 days in the region. Why not make Todi your homebase? It’s conveniently located smack in the middle of the region and close to the major cities like Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi and Montefalco but also surrounded by small charming hamlets that come to life during various local summer festivals. 


If you had to paint your last painting on Umbria, what would you choose?


copyright C.Barragan
What a question!I think I would paint a late summer sunset from the walls of Porchiano del Monte. It’s an absolutely breathtaking view and each sunset has its own beauty. The elderly in town always gravitate toward the walls when the sun starts going down. I personally prefer to take a nice fresh Grechetto and sip it as I watch this daily miracle pass. You’ve got to come and see it for yourself. Better yet, let me take you!

What are your future plans here?


Well besides organizing my cool Travel Sketchbook Workshops in Todi where we can have fun sketching and discovering corners and niches of the town, this year I’m launching an innovative service in Italy: Live Event Painting for luxury destination weddings and celebrations. I’m really looking forward to capturing the magic and feel of a wedding celebration on canvas right before the public’s eyes. 2016 is going to be awesome!




You can reach Caridad Barragan also on:








 
 

 
 

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12/30/2015

Merry Sagrantino 2015: in the Court of the King

It is not the first time I write on Sagrantino wine on this blog.
I think that in several years of blogging and touring wineries with travelers, the amount of ink and words that I've poured on this topic is really huge.
Sagrantino, like all the other complex wines of Italy, is always a surprise, there's always something new to know, to think about, to meditate on, each time it is in my glass.

The occasion came once again thanks to the invitation by Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco, association of wine makers of Montefalco wine area, for the annual event Merry Sagrantino, organized by Consorzio for the promotion of the wines and food from this territory.
Merry Sagrantino - now at its fourth edition - takes place every year the week before Christmas in Montefalco and it is a way to celebrate the festivities and/with this special wine.
The event is growing year by year: last time I took part to it we were in the beautiful headquarters of Consorzio, this year in the stunning Sala del Comune, the ancient main hall inside the building of Montefalco municipality.

The beautiful ceiling at Sala del Comune
Merry Sagrantino is  a very interesting guided tasting, open not only to wine specialists, but to anyone: winelovers, tourists and local people. Always lead by a collegue certified sommelier, this year we had on our glasses six wines produced in this Umbrian terroir: a white and the five reds Sagrantino based, of course.
It's not be news that this area is famous for its red wines production, in which Sagrantino grape - the indigenous local variety - rules.
In the Court of King Sagrantino there are also white varieties like Trebbiano Spoletino, another local grape that has been cultivated here for centuries, originally in the ancient way of training the vine called vite maritata, a very old practice of cultivation  - used even by the Romans -  of training vines to grow up along living tree trunks. Rare examples are still visible in some vineyards in this wine area, as the one we had the fortune to see in "flesh and blood" in  Castel Ritaldi a couple of years ago.
Grown in the valley facing Spoleto, this kind of Trebbiano, fruity and mineral, could become the next white star of this territory. Some important labels started a very interesting production some years ago and now other wineries are making new experiments.
Following Trebbiano refreshing entry, we went on with a Montefalco Rosso and a very pleasant Montefalco Rosso Riserva, to end with two Sagrantino-s dry and one sweet.
Given for granted that nothing in wine is permanent, wine is something "alive", that changes and can change in the years, as well as the perception and ideas we have on it, I can say that year after year, tasting after tasting, sip after sip of this unique, very complex and powerful wine, I came to two undiscutable axioms on Sagrantino [drum roll!]:

Beautiful Montefalco adorned for Christmas
Sagrantino Axiom 1: give it time. Be patient. Let it breath.
The power of the tannins of this wine demands patience, patience in waiting for years, before opening the bottle. According to the regulation of production Sagrantino needs to be aged in barrels [and refined in bottle] for a minimun of 37 months and this is mandatory. But the very best,  the top Sagrantino-s I've ever tasted were much older. The tannins that in young ones can be too astringent, in older Sagrantino become very elegant, refined and sofisticated, sometimes an incredible surprise for a wine that is often considerated too powerful.
Patience also means "let it breath". I'm not a fan of the decanter, not at all of those electronic weird gadgets that promise to "oxigenate" your wine in few seconds...be careful! They only stress the wine, especially the old vintages.
Just remember to be patient, once again, opening the bottle at least 1 hour, better if more, before your dinner.

Sagrantino Axiom 2: give it food; proper food.
I ended the sentence above with the word "dinner". Sagrantino requires foods, because it is not a "middle-class guy", but a King that gives its specific rules. Like important red wines of Italy, for example Amarone, it needs food that can "resist" to its complexity and tannins. Saying "cheese", infact, it is not enough, you need an aged or even ultra-aged cheese for the old vintages. Same for "meat". A simple veal steak is not enough. The King loves game, of course, and wild boar, hare and everything is included in this list, it's fine.

Glory and Honor to the King, always.


A special thank to Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco

24 h to New Year's Eve and Celebrations: ALWAYS DRINK RESPONSIBLY

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10/27/2015

EXPO 2015: "Feeding the planet" or just a Big Show?

At the end of this week, on the 31st October, the Universal Exhibition 2015 held in Milano, EXPO2015 is going to close its gates forever.

Opened last May 1st, during this six-month period, Milano has become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries have shown the best of their technology to offer - according to the organizers - "a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet and its equilibrium".

History
Pavilion Zero was a "must do" to understand the theme
The very first edition of the Universal Exhibition was in 1851 in London, during the Industrial Revolution, a perfect time to show "the most ambitious successes that man has achieved over time, an occasion to share technologies, innovation and discoveries. It was also a moment to bring to life architectural projects or artistic movements, like the Eiffel tower which was built in Paris when the city hosted the Exposition in 1889".

Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life
The core theme of Expo Milano 2015, Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life has the aim to provide an opportunity to reflect upon, and try to find solutions, to the contradictions of our world. There are still the hungry - approximately 870 million people were undernourished -  and, on the other, there are those who die from aliments linked to poor nutrition or too much food - approximately 2.8 million deaths from diseases related to obesity or to being overweight in the same period. Above all, about 1.3 billion tons of foods are wasted every year.

My visit
Although I've heard many rumors and read many articles and blog posts on the several contradictions of EXPO 2015 in the realization and promotion of the core theme; Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life  - basically the importance of Food in human civilization in the past, present and, above all, future- was too crucial for my work to miss it.
In addition the last time that the Universal Exhibition was held in Italy was in 1906! An opportunity that happens very rarely in our Country.
Therefore, as soon as my working season has slowed down, I jumped to Milano [13th and 14th October 2015, at the beginning of the week, trying to avoid the following problems]


The long infinite queues
One of the most important complain I've heard about EXPO 2015 was the long infinite queues anywhere. This was partially true. The most famous pavilions like the Italian, Japanese, Swiss, and several other ones, were really "off-limits". In particular the Italian one had more than 4 hours of queue at 10AM, at the opening time! Not the Italian wine pavilion, that at 11.AM was almost deserted.

Italian wine Pavilion
This was probably due to the fact that for many people tasting wine in the morning is a little bit weird. Tasting wine is very different than drinking wine: you don't need to drink all the glass, just a couple of sips can give you an idea of the quality of a wine.
I enjoyed a lot this pavilion where I could taste more than a couple of top level wines I've never had the opportunity to drink [10 Euros for 3 tastings of wine, not so bad if you are able to find what you want among around 3500 different ones from all over the Peninsula!].
Not far from the Italian pavilion, there was Franciacorta, one of the most important regions of Italy for the production of great spumante [the Champagne-style wine, produced in Italy and called Metodo Classico wines]. Here I could taste an amazing Riserva from 2006, at 12 Eur/glass. Not so bad, for the very special edition and label.

My stop at the Umbrian wines
The long queues pushed me to change the priorities in my tour: I decided to get into the pavilions that had less crowds. In this way I could visit countries which I didn't know, like Turkmenistan, Belarus, Moldova, Angola, Slovenia and many others. In particular, I enjoyed a lot the Slovenian one, which really made me think to spend a vacation in this beautiful and very close Country.
Another area that was almost empty was the Clusters where different communities where brought together, not by geographical area, but by a common theme and food group: rice, fruits and legumes, cereals and tubers etc. Among the 9 themes, I loved in particular the Coffee one where I could drink a pleasant coffee from Guatemala [free offer], and the Bio-Mediterrean one where I tasted the very first extra virgin olive oil of the new season: a "just-pressed" evoo from Sicily [pressed at EXPO 2015 thanks to a portable mini-olive press].

Food 
As the core theme was Food, with capital F, I've heard that many people were disappointed about the quality of the food itself and the price. I have to say, that, yes, in general the cost of the food was more expensive than in a kiosk or a restaurant outside the event, especially the street food, in my opinion.
Personally I've planned to eat only international and ethnic food, using also this opportunity to have something different than Umbrian or Italian. Living in a beautiful, although very little region, it is quite hard to have something that differs from a torta al testo or porchetta, here.

My favourite food experiences at EXPO2015




At EXPO 2015 I had 2 main meals and both ok for the quality/price ratio. One in particular, was really good: the national Eritrean dish zighinì [a sort of beef stew with legumes and mushrooms with a very unique mix of local spices] that for family reasons I've tasted many times in other occasions and restaurants. The cost: 10.50 Euro. For the second meal, we were more traditional, in a certain way, choosing Argentina and its famous grilled meat. For a big plate of different grilled meat plus 2 beers and 2 empanadas [an Argentinian version of the Italian calzone, thin bread stuffed with meat and cheese]: 39 Euros to share in two people.
A nice experience was at the French pavilion. The French that they always know how to do it better, have brought to Milan an authentic boulangerie, baking "on site" tons and tons of baguette breads and croissants.
In particular I had one of their pain au chocolat, still hot, very good similar to the ones tasted in a [big] pastry shop in the heart of Paris: 2.50 Euros.
Then, not bad was the apple strudel at the Austrian pavilion for Euro 5 [even if I definitely had better ones in their Country].

Feeding the planet or just a big show?
Personally I enjoyed my time at EXPO 2015 a lot. It was my very first few-days break after an intense Summer of work, I was there basically only to have fun and my professional "enrichment" from this experience was not a priority.
EXPO Milano was both for me: a way to reflect once again on the contradictions of modern word about food and, especially, food waste, and for the same reasons, a big, expensive show, where food was at the very same time "the victim and the torturer". The reflection on the huge number of people who are still very far from the basic food needs, together with the huge availability and offer of "all-you-can-eat" to the wealthy EXPO visitor.
And...no. I really don't know, I can't say how many people in the crowds and infinite queues have really caught - under the colored neon lights and the Tree of Life's las-vegas-like-show - the utmost importance of the original message : being able to guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the Planet.


Resources:
Official EXPO2015 website
Bureau international des Exposition










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7/06/2015

#Terrediconfine July 2015 - Ancient food tradition in Todi and Orvieto

Melodie in Vigna - Roccafiore - Todi
The tradition and ancient food culture of the two tows Orvieto and Todi are the common thread of the project #TerrediConfine [borderlands] by the local Cultural Association Brumalia.


During the first and inaugural event MELODIE IN VIGNA in Todi last Saturday, Brumalia unveiled the rich programme that is running in the month of July in both the territories:

JULY 9 - Porano (village close to Orvieto) at Locanda Colle Ombroso
FIORI DA MANGIARE, the ancient tradition of edible flowers: cooking show and food tasting

JULY 11 - Todi at Istituto Agrario
IL BOCCONCELLO: Nonna Villelma and her friends disclose the public the original recipe of Bocconcello,  an ancient cheese bread used during the period of the threshing in Todi and other neighbouring towns of Umbria.

JULY 24 - Orvieto at Grotte dei Tronchi Fossili
SUONI DEL VINO: young talented drummers reproduce the "sounds of the wine", the sounds of the grape picking, pressing, bottling... Wine tasting with Orvietan wine in pairing with local products.

JULY 25 - Todi at Istituto Agrario
IL PANE DELLE FESTE: culinary duel between the traditional local bread Pane Nociato from Todi vs. Lumanchella, the typical snail-shaped bread from Orvieto.

For more information, inquiries and booking: 

Associazione Culturale "Brumalia"
email: associazione.brumalia@gmail.com
[English spoken]

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6/18/2015

#Terrediconfine [borderlands]: Orvieto and Todi

#terrediconfine
Terre di Confine, borderlands could be an unusual word to define the towns of Orvieto and Todi.

Orvieto and Todi are in Umbria. They are part of the same region, they share the same culture and heritage regarding art and history together with an ancient food tradition and outstanding wine production.

Going back in time there are many affinities, they both are hill-top towns, both surrounded by a high circle of walls, food is also quite similar, wine great as well, and the monuments: stunning.


Duomo di Orvieto shines at sunset
If we pay more attention to the details, we immediately notice that there are many differences, Orvieto stays on a impressive rock of tufo a volcanic brown rock, Todi on a gentle rolling hill mostly made of clay.
Orvieto has its incredible Duomo, one of the masterpieces of Italian art. In Todi there is the Temple of Consolazione, a unique "greek-cross" church with its spectacular domes.
 
Orvietan traditional pasta is umbrichelli, a sort of thick spaghetti made of flour and water, in Todi there are tagliatelle, flat pasta made also by eggs. Although in both the towns bread is without salt, Orvieto has a speciality: Lumachella, a snail-shape rich bread, while Todi has Pane Nociato, with noci, walnuts.
Santa Maria della Consolazione in Spring - Todi
Orvieto and Todi are both D.O.C wine area, both famous for their white wines: Orvieto with its Orvieto Classico, a blend of different local grapes, while Todi for Grechetto, a single variety wine...

In the next weeks thanks to the new Cultural Association "Brumalia" in which we are directly and strictly involved, both in Orvieto and Todi there will be a series of activities and events focused on this topic: Terre di Confine, borderlands.

In the meantime we have just launched the hashtag #terrediconfine on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where everyone is invited  - and very welcome - to post and share in Italian or in English your passion "from A to Z" for one of the two towns or..even better, for both!

Thank you! Grazie!

Contacts:
Associazione Culturale "Brumalia"
email: associazione.brumalia@gmail.com

Facebook: Facebook Fan Page
Twitter: Twitter
Instagram: @brumalia_it

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