People are always asking me for advice on what to do in Umbria. Yes, we have a house there, so you’d think I’d have tons of answers. The problem is, we have a house there.
In other words, we are not tourists and so rarely do we head out from the comfort (and chores) of our own home to do things like sight see. You know what I mean. When is the last time you visited the Empire State Building you New Yorkers?
But a couple of weeks ago my friend Gillian was visiting. And since she had made such an effort to take me out and about when we were down in Positano last month, I thought it would be only fair to show her a bit of Umbria.
Naturally, I picked my favorite typically small, cute Umbrian village: Bevagna. I picked Bevagna because even though I’d been many times, I’d never really spent a lot of time wandering around. The problem was that I would usually arrive there post-winery visit, to meet someone for lunch. So by the time I would arrive – about 1:15 – the town would be shut tight, and that would be it.
But even what little I had seen of Bevagna had made me love it. One thing it’s got going for it is that it feels like the perfect medieval stone hill top village. But it’s not on a hill! While views might be nice, being able to arrive to a main square without sweating has it’s charms.
Bevagna is located along the banks of the Topino river, and one of my favorite parts of any visit is parking. The parking lot located right outside the Molino gate of the city has got to have the best view of any parking lot in Italy. Grassy banks lead right to the river, while a weeping willow frames the town in a way that’s almost too pretty.
The small bridge that leads over the river passes over what used to be the communal laundry. Nice to look at, and makes me appreciate my Miele more than ever.
This attention to preservation of a past way of life runs strong in Bevagna. Yes, there are gorgeous churches to visit, but the town has also recreated a series of artisan’s workshops that are dotted throughout the alleyways. You can stop by the Museo Communale for a map and then make your way to a paper, silk and candle making workshops. If you want to go all out, pay for the 7 euro combined ticket and visit the museum, small 18th century theatre and recreated Renaissance pharmacy.
And for an extra euro, theater and religion come together in big way in the church of Santa Maria Laurentia. I won’t spoil the drama for you. Just watch the video below.
I’ll be giving you some dining and shopping tips in Bevagna next week. But for now, I’ll just tell you that my favorite cookie store is here. It’s a small bakery that does sell cakes and bread and other baked goods. But it’s the cookies that I will actually make a detour for. Yes, they have the normal, dry, nut-filled biscotti that are made for dunking in the sweet Sagrantino wine. But they also make cookies that are completely their own, and that I’ve never seen before. Pistachio or almond topped butter cookies are so delicate they almost fall apart on the way to your mouth. Their Sagrantino and hazelnut biscotti are crisp and sugary. But my favorite are the almond and fig filled cookies which are basically fig newtons to which I’m pretty sure they’ve added crack.
Bevagna is here.
For information on the Circuito Museale Cittadino and Circuito Culturale dei Mestieri Medievali see here and here.
For information on the yearly festival, Il Mercato delle Gaite, when the artisans work shops are actually staffed and working see here.
Museo Civico di Bevagna
Corso Matteotti 70
Via Fabio Alberti 9