10 Delicious Umbrian Foods to Taste in Perugia

Posted on September 1, 2017 |

Thanks to Perugina and its world famous Baci, the city of Perugia is known for chocolates. But there’s so much more to Perugia’s culinary scene for food curious travelers. Umbria offers a bounty of “prodotti tipici” (regional products), linked to centuries-old peasant traditions that use raw ingredients in the most natural state possible. Here are 10 delicious foods to try on your next visit to Perugia.

1. Truffles:

Known as a delicacy since ancient times, the humble-looking truffle was once considered a divine creation endowed with aphrodisiac properties. Highly prized truffles grow abundantly in the Umbrian countryside, where you can hunt for every variety just steps from Perugia’s historic center. You’ll find them shaved on grilled meats, used to flavor cheeses and salami, scrambled into eggs, formed into dumplings, preserved in spreads and sautéed with butter to make a heavenly pasta sauce. To experience Perugia’s best truffles in all manner of savory glory stop for lunch or dinner at Bistrot al Tartufo at the top of Via Ulisse Rocchi. You can also purchase fresh or preserved truffles at Perugia Tartufi in Piazza Danti.

Perugia’s best truffles
Photo Credit: John Ludas

2. Pecorino & Caciotta Cheeses:

Some say the cheeses of Umbria resemble its inhabitants—simple, authentic and boldly flavored. From sweet and creamy to cave-aged and sharp, Umbria serves up a variety of Pecorino (sheep’s milk) and Caciotta (cow’s milk) cheeses to nibble on with a glass of local, dry wine or at the end of your meal before dessert. For a quick and friendly aperitivo with a selection of local cheeses and a glass of Umbrian wine, head over to Caffe Dal Perugino in Piazza Matteotti.

Pecorino & Caciotta Cheeses typical cheese of Umbria

3. Prosciutto di Norcia:

Of course no cheese plate should be missing this savory, cured ham. Prosciutto is famous all over Italy but certain designations stand out for their quality. One of these, Prosciutto di Norcia is an Umbrian staple from the town of Norcia, a place so famous for its butchery products that the term “Norcineria” is synonymous with quality meats and butchery products not only in Umbria but also all over Italy. To sample hand cut or sliced prosciutto di Norcia order a “tagliere” plate at Locanda del Bartoccio in Piazza Matteotti or stop by the deli counter at Umbrò on Via Oberdan.

Prosciutto di Norcia is an Umbrian staple from the town of Norcia
Photo Credit: John Ludas

4. Porchetta:

Tracing its ancient origins to a city just outside of Rome, this savory, herb-packed boneless pork roast takes center stage as a street food that owes its unique central Italian flavor to a type of wild fennel that only grows in Umbria. Pick up a Porchetta sandwich at the stand (Antica Salumeria Granieri Amato) in Piazza Matteotti then enjoy it while people watching on the steps of the cathedral in Piazza IV Novembre.

Porchetta sandwich in Perugia

5. Salsiccia Secca (Dried Sausage):

As evidenced by this list, nobody would accuse the Umbrians of eating too little pork! This typical dried sausage is yet another example of delicious Umbrian charcuterie. To the foreign eye these lean, lightly seasoned, air-dried sausages look like a smaller version of salami when sliced. They are perfect on a cheese plate with crusty bread and crackers or, as is the tradition in the region, eaten alone with savory, cheesy Easter Bread. You’ll find this specialty on “tagliere” (cold cut plates) all over Perugia or try it on a sandwich at La Bottega di Perugia in Piazza Morlacchi or on Corso Cavour.

Dried Sausage in Perugia
Photo Credit: Italiano Please

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

Though it makes only a tiny percentage of the total production of Italian olive oil (less than 2%), Umbrian EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) wins a lot of awards. Ranging in color from rich, golden yellow to luminescent green, the five distinct growing areas offer a variety of taste profiles with ever-present notes of spice and herbs. Buy a bottle (in a travel-safe, tin container) from one of the many retail shops (Osteria a Priori, Antica Spezieria Bavicchi—to name just 2) or visit the Antico Frantoio Trampolini, just a 15-minute walk outside of Perugia’s historic center where you can schedule a tour and tasting and visit their tiny olive oil museum.

Umbrian Eextra virgin olive oil awards

7. Fagiolina del Trasimeno:

Grown since Etruscan times near Lago Trasimeno, this nutrient-packed bean (and Slow Food Presidio) was nearly extinct due to the laborious, entirely manual cultivation process. Thankfully, a few family-run farms are still willing to plant, sow and harvest these tender, buttery, nutty flavored beans that can be tossed in salads, made into a bruschetta topping, added to soups or just eaten plain with a simple seasoning of Umbrian olive oil, salt and pepper. Packages of the dried beans are sold all over Perugia—they don’t require a long soaking period. They are also a regular menu item at Osteria a Priori, an all-Umbrian food eatery on Via dei Priori.

Fagiolina del Trasimeno: slow food presidio
Photo Credit: John Ludas

8. Imbrecciata (also spelled ‘mbrecciata):

Umbria is known for its legumes and grains and there’s no better way to sample the region’s bounty than a bowl of this traditional harvest soup of lentils, beans, corn, chickpeas, cicerchie (wild chickpeas) and spelt topped with croutons and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. For a down-home taste of the best soups in Perugia head to Ristorante Fontanella di Porta Sole (Via delle Prome 2) and order the “Tris di Assaggi,” a sampling of chef Gino’s classic Umbrian soups—Imbrecciata, Quadrucci e Ceci (pasta and chickpeas) and Crema di Fave (Cream of Fava Beans).

Imbrecciata: traditional harvest soup of lentils
Photo Credit: Vegourmandes

9. Torta al Testo:

This traditional Umbrian flatbread has long been associated with “Cucina Povera,” the romantic sounding name for the stuff the poor masses once had to eat. Today it’s still made according to a simple recipe though the “testo”—in ancient times a stone or brick tile has been replaced by a round, griddle-like pan that’s used to cook the bread on a cooktop or over an open flame. It’s often served with soups and stews or “farcita” (stuffed like a sandwich) with various meats and cheeses. For Perugia’s freshest Torta al Testo head straight to Non Solo Testo on Via Danzetta, where it’s made daily by Angela Russo, a Neapolitan transplant with bread-baking in her veins. Try a classic with Umbrian sausage and bitter greens.

Torta al Testo: traditional Umbrian flatbread
Photo Credit: John Ludas

10. Chocolate:

It should come as no surprise that in a town with a chocolate tradition, Perugina and its Baci is not the only game around. For the best selection of packaged chocolates—from Perugina and lesser-known brands such as Vannucci and Augusta Perusia head to the Antica Spezieria Bavicchi on Via dei Priori. Here you can also sample and buy Umbrian Chocolate Liqueurs. For freshly made chocolates check out Augusta Perusia on Via Pinturicchio or Turan Café in Piazza IV Novembre where you can sometimes watch the fresh chocolates being made in the laboratorio located at the back of the café.

Perugia's chocolate tradition

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