Umbria; the province of hilltop towns and rolling green vineyards. It truly is a hard life backpacking around this part of the world. I mean how do we decide which vineyard or hilltop town to go to??
We finally settled on the boss of Umbria, otherly known as Perugia. The train ride from Roma was a beautiful one, traveling through wine famous places like the stunning Oriveto. We had one change in Cortona before arriving into Perugia in the early afternoon. We decided to bus the 5.5km out to our hostel in the beautiful suburb of Case Nuove. It was quite funny actually as out of the 8 people on the bus, 50% of us were Kiwis! We ran into another Kiwi couple from New Plymouth. They were fresh off the boat Kiwi’s as they asked us about our train ride from Dubai to Europe…… hmmm!!
The Perugian Farmhouse Backpackers Hostel was awesome. It is probably one of my favourite hostels on the whole trip. It is only 5.5km out if the city (15mins by bus or an hour easy walk), it is far enough to feel country-fied however still easily accessible. For 40 Euro a night for a double private room we were stocked. The stunning large stone cottage sat atop a hill looking out to the beautiful Perugian village and surrounding area.
Once we were settled we headed down to the local supermarket – Conad City that was about 1km from the hostel. We decided to opt for salad with some fresh pasta for dinner for the next couple of nights. Of course some local Umbrian vini aided dinner. We spent the night in chatting with the others in the hostel; Liz a chick from America on holiday for a week from Seattle, Peter an Aussie from Melbourne who was cycling around Italy (he wasn’t a huge cyclist before the trip but wanted to push outside his comfort zone so thought why not) Lisa a Finnish girl doing a workaway at the hostel after finishing high school and Matteo who was also doing a workaway from Ireland. It was a great bunch of people.
Again like in Amalfi it was such a nice place that we wanted to enjoy it as much as possible so we didn’t fill our schedule too tightly. After breakfast (fresh eggs from the farm and Italian espresso) we wandered into the station by foot. It was from here we could catch the ‘mini metro’ up to the hilltop historical town center of Perugia. The mini metro was awesome, silver bubble cars on a roller coaster for toddlers aka immature adults!
It was truly breathtaking when we hopped off the metro and saw the view… I had to do a couple of double takes as it seriously looked like a painting. The greenness of the hills and the cottages dotted over the place were picture perfect… It simply was stunning! We spent the next few hours wandering down the little stone back alleys and meandering through the market stalls selling everything from local produce to Christmas decorations and wooden toys. We stopped in at a local cafe for an espresso, which didn’t even compare to the stuff at our hostel.
We made our way back to the hostel by bus, meeting Liz on the way and the 2 new arrivals – Mike & Mel from Melbourne who was doing the same Eurail adventure as us but the opposite direction around Europe. The evening followed suit from the night before, however not so much wine was consumed as we wanted to be fresh for the next day.
After breakfast the next day Liz, Mike, Mel, Morgan and I decided to go for a wine tasting at the Goretti vineyard about 4kms up the road from the hostel. We walked there at 11 in the morning only to find that there was a small miscommunication about the booking so we would have to go back at 4pm for the tasting. However the walk there wasn’t for nothing as across the road we found a small shop selling homemade beer and fresh deli meat! We had a small tasting before a bit of shopping for some lunch to take back to the hostel. Instead of walking back along the road to the hostel, Liz showed us a way through the fields, which was very picturesque. We made it back to the hostel where Morgan and I had ice-cold beer and fresh pork and salad sandwiches for lunch…delish!
We chilled at the farm until 4pm when the owner who set up the appointment for the tasting kindly dropped us back to the vineyard. The tasting was great, we paid 10 Euro each and tried 7 wines, a grappa, a brandy and some balsamic vinegar as well as the most delicious olive oil we have ever had. The only downside is that I thought we may have been shown around the facility and the tasting was all in Italian. However it didn’t deter us as we still bought a couple of bottles to take back to the hostel. The hilarious thing about the winery was that in the shop you could bring your own containers and they would fill it up with a wine ‘petrol pump’ … So funny to see however I told Morgan that I would rather pay more for a bottle 🙂
To read more abou the Goretti wine tasting experience, please click here.
We walked back through the fields in the dark to the hostel where we dropped our wine off before heading quickly to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for schnitzel as well as a potato focaccia snack and some more tasty Italian salami…. I swear the salami here is the best in the world!
Dinner turned out to be a communal sort of fare. Peter made homemade pasta, Liz made some delicious rosemary potatoes and caramelized onions and we contributed our schnitzel and salad. It was a good way to spend our last night; great food, wine and company.
I have to say I was sad to leave the farmhouse the next morning; we made some great friends here and really enjoyed our small piece of Umbria.