Food and wine are as much a part of Umbria and Abruzzo’s charm as their scenery and history. And thanks to our distinct Beyond Biking philosophy, you will have the opportunity to try some of the very best local dishes on offer.

The food in Umbria and Abruzzo is regarded as Italian cuisine at its purest. Situated between the north and south of Italy, these regions have been well-protected from centuries of foreign influence. While, for example, in the north-western of Italy the French have had a big influence on the local cooking, and in the south the strong Spanish and North African influence is clear, this isn’t the case in Umbria or Abruzzo. Their regional dishes are flavourful and unfussy, and this one of the most fertile corners of Italy, so fine ingredients are abundant and varied. Prepare to enjoy lots of fresh local fruit and vegetables, olive oil, lentils, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts, chillies, pepperoncini, artichoke, truffles and of course, some of the best saffron that Europe has to offer.

In some ways, Umbrian and Abruzzese cuisine is the undiscovered treasure of Italian gastronomy. While tourists rhapsodise over Tuscan cuisine and Italians wax poetic over the food of Emilia-Romagna, the rustic flavours of Umbria and Abruzzo are relatively uncharted territory. The local cooks are masters at turning simple ingredients into glorious feasts. Black truffle is shaved and grated onto every dish imaginable. Meanwhile, in every flavourful meat stew you will find the Lenticchie di Castelluccio – the most sought-after lentils in Italy, so tender that they require no soaking. Even the bread is treated with local ingredients: try pan nociatio, bread made with pecorino cheese, walnuts and pine nuts.

Meat is a staple ingredient in the cooking of Umbria and Abruzzo. Chianini beef is considered a delicacy and comes from cattle that have been raised in Umbria for over two millennia. But the king of meats here is the pig, cooked in a wood-fired oven or roasted on a spit. Many families still raise pigs, and every winter the pig slaughter yields succulent hams, salamis and sausages. Norcia, famous for its pork processing, is where you will find one of Italy’s best prosciuttos. Porchetta – roast suckling pig and stuffing – has its roots in the region, while porchetta al finocchio (with fennel) is a local refinement. Due to the long history of shepherding in Abruzzo, lamb and mutton dishes are very popular, as are wild game roasts such as wood pigeon, wild boar and hare.

Umbria’s lakes and rivers mean plenty of fresh fish, too. Be sure to try the Tegamaccio di Trasimeno, fresh-water fish stew made in the area around Lake Trasimeno. The River Nera is also noted for its trout. Abruzzese recipes feature fresh seafood from the Adriatic prepared in a multitude of ways, like brodetto, a peppered seafood soup, or polpi in purgatorio, octopus cooked in tomatoes and hot peppers.

The wines of Umbria include the ‘Magnificent 13’ – 11 DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wines, including the Montefalco Rosso from Sagrantino, and two of the highest quality DOCG wines (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita): Sagrantino di Montefalco and Torgiano Rosso Riserv. The Sagrantino di Montefalco is said to be one of the best reds available anywhere in the world.

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