Recently I read about the BootsnAll 30 Days of Indie Travel Project and I decided to jump in and participate. Today is Day 9 of the project and the topic is: “Describe 1 perfect day you had while traveling” : To Read the blog in Italian click here
It is difficult to find only one perfect day of travel to talk about because there are so many! When I am in Italy, even if it isn’t the greatest day, I am happy just to be in a country that awakens my senses, where I can throw open the blinds and enjoy a beautiful vista and drink a great glass of wine to restore my good mood. But even the worst days of travel have some merit, for after all isn’t it true that the days of misadventure and accidents produce the best stories. These are the stories that we continue laugh about and recount to our friends years later. But for today I must recall a perfect day…a perfect day…a perfect day…let’s see. Ok I got it! An image of Gubbio is floating up out of the dark recesses of my brain. I have a vision of Gubbio, an ancient Roman city in Umbria, with an imposing church in the central piazza with an incredible view of the Umbrian plains stretching out below this city set on a hill. Gubbio is famous for Don Matteo – the priest from the Italiano cop show, who solves all of Gubbio’s crimes better than the police with just a bicycle and a cross. Gubbio with her narrow steep streets. Gubbio with her overwhelming smell of truffles that follows you everywhere! The smell of truffles is so strong that according to my husband after two days in Gubbio even the ice cream tastes of truffles!
The day that I am thinking about began in a delightful way in Montefalco at the Villa Pambuffetti in Umbria with cappuccinos and pastries on the terrace, where we could enjoy the romantic gardens. Soon we found ourselves in the car again ready to continue our trip north to Gubbio. As were were navigating the city streets, looking for the autostrada we were stopped by a large group of school kids that swarmed around our car on their way to school. I remember well the happiness of the Italian kids and their high energy was contagious. So, on we went in grand spirits ready for our next adventure. And what an adventure! From the balcony of our room at the Palazzo Reale in Gubbio we watched as hang gliders floated down from the mountains behind the city. On foot we took off to see the ancient Roman forum outside the city where we sat and let ourselves get lost in the history of the place. We dined in a restaurant where we ate, obviously…you got it…Truffles and typical meats of the region.
A very satisfying day to be sure, but what put this day over the top? The fact that after dinner we went to a bar frequented only by the locals. It was here that we met by chance a man of mystery and intrigue – the truffle hunter. While we were listening to music and drinking wine I began to talk in Italian with various individuals and specifically to a man who cordially informed that he was a cacciatore di tartufi. He began to explain to me about his work, the dogs that help him in his truffle searches and the specialty products that he creates with his own truffles and sells in Gubbio. Then suddenly he jumped up and said that we must follow him! It seemed that at mid-night he wanted to open his store where he sold his products so that we could sample some of his wares. My husband, who by the way does not speak Italian, at this point was a little doubtful. He didn’t want to end up like one of Don Matteo’s most recent victims! But I had confidence that every thing would go well. I was not disappointed. After following a twisting winding path through the darkened streets of Gubbio we found ourselves in front of a small dark shop which our truffle hunter unlocked with a key from a large key ring. He turned on
the lights and we found ourselves in a lovely little shop that smelled so strongly of truffles that it nearly knocked us off our feet. No mysteries to solve here for Don Matteo or for the police of Gubbio, because inside the shop the proprietor received us with kindness and warmth. Our new friend opened a bottle of wine and poured two glasses for us, and then a few more and then he opened jars of his marmalades, cheeses and salsas all made with truffles and all from his own recipes. We toasted and had the best truffle tasting of our lives.
Truly a wonderful day! In the middle of the night, in the heart of Gubbio we had our own private party with a man that didn’t speak a lick of English…and that reason alone, made that day the most unforgettable day of travel for me. It was the first time that knowing the Italian language took me off the beaten turist path and literally unlocked doors for me. I was over the moon with joy and bursting with truffles.