Each time I have been to the Mont Sibillini we have spent a day in the lovely town of Norcia.
Norcia, is a town in the province of Perugia in southeastern Umbria.
The area is known for its mountaineering and hiking. It is also widely known for hunting, especially of the wild boar (cinghiale), and for sausages and ham made from wild boar and pork. There are many shops in Norcia selling these local products which also include apples, honey, truffles, mushrooms, chestnuts, chickpeas and vin cotto or cooked wine.
There are several ways of travelling to Norcia. We went by car the last time I was there – a beautiful drive up. When we were in school in Castelraimondo we travelled by coach. If travelling by train you can arrive at Ascoli Piceno, Spoleto, and Camerino and then take the bus up
Each time I have been to Norcia has been in Autumn which is just so lovely. I am sure Summer and spring would be great. Winter is very cold and snowy which is a great attraction to cross-country skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts.
The area offers many different sports including mountain biking, horseback riding, hang gliding, paragliding, and climbing.
For me I am happy to stick to the town streets and enjoy the artistic, cultural, culinary, and historic traditions that have arisen and endured here over the centuries. There is a very good choice of restaurants and cafes offering the local cuisine.
The last time I visited there was one of their many festivals in the main piazza.
From Norcia we then travelled to Castellucio.
I look forward to my next trip to Norcia which I will plan for spring/summer to see the flowers especially the poppies.
While staying at the house we actually went truffle hunting .
We were just leaving to go out early one evening when Mario, the local truffle hunter, arrived with his 3 dogs
We dropped everything and joined them running through the woods.
Those dogs were just amazing how quickly they found the truffles. It was important that Mario took the truffles from the dogs immediately before they enjoyed eating them. They were so excited
In the world of gourmet foods, there is one treasure that is literally and figuratively worth its weight in gold. Truffles, usually too expensive for most consumers
What are Truffles?
All types of truffles are related to mushrooms but unlike mushrooms, truffles never emerge from the surface. Instead truffles are formed below the soil close to a tree’s root system, truffles are the “fruit” of another fungus/tree relationship. The fungus that makes truffles can only survive in certain soil conditions such as those created in stands of oak, willow and linden trees. Once attached to a root, the fungus will produce one truffle per year, with each type of tree lending a distinctive aroma and flavour to the truffle.
Truffle hunting with Mario and the 3 dogs – One of the most fun things I have done.
Later we prepared a pasta dish using these delicacies.
Spaghetti with truffle
10 minutes preparation + 12 minutes cooking Servings 4
- 3 oz black truffle
- clove of garlic
- 1 salted anchovy
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
Clean the truffle by brushing it carefully. Slice then put it into the oil with some basil leaves.
In a pan with little oil sauté the garlic. Add the desalted chopped anchovy and allow to dissolve. Remove the garlic and add a ladle of pasta cooking liquid.
In a large casserole, cook the pasta in boiling salted water. Drain the spaghetti while still “al dente”. Toss in the anchovy sauce and then add a little of the truffle crushed in oil. Flavor with the basil, sprinkle with a little oil and decorate with slivers of black truffle and fresh basil.
ps I apologise for the quality of some on these photos, but the actual hunting was so so fast.