Linnertime in Spello
Story and photos by Tom Weber
the crumbs from the crunchy bruschetta, a simple centuries-old
antipasto in this part of La Penisula, still dotting coats
and jackets, our just-concluded visit to an Umbrian olive mill turned
out to be literally and figuratively the appetizer for what's to come:
a long, lazy afternoon-into-evening lunch seated at la tavola
with knife and fork in hand.
It's Sunday around the Bel Paese,
and our group of international media, guests of Insight Vacations'
(Insight) Country Roads journey around Umbria and Tuscany, are
going to do what most fun-loving Italians do on this day: eat, drink
and be merry for as long as it takes.
A bit late for lunch, a tad early for dinner,
we're calling it "linnertime" as our motorcoach pulls into
Spello, a picturesque little town in the Umbria.
The hilly streets are too narrow for our
chariot to negotiate, so we stop just outside the walls of the centro
storico (historic center) and we'll hoof it the rest of the way.
We don't mind at all. Linner awaits!
Lead by Marco, Insight's Umbria expert,
we begin to make our way into ancient Hispellum, where Umbri tribesmen,
the original Italics the people, not the font built
this town around 9 B.C. only to see sandal-clad Romans colonize it around
1 B.C. until it finally settled in as a classic medieval community where
about 8,500 residents now hang their hats.
Walking alongside blocks of stone mortared
together long ago, we duck inside a narrow opening and climb up and
through the Porta Venere (Venus Gate), an ancient Roman arch,
into the heart of the town. Squeezing through tight cobblestone streets,
we cross open courtyards that double as parking lots for cars of the
smallest dimensions as we gain altitude. A cascade of hanging flower
pots brighten the way as our forced march to linner takes us past some
of the more than two dozen churches that seem to sanctify every street
We make the final push, climbing ever upward
on the cobble and reach our destination: Ristorante Il Molino
Standing like a nondescript row house along
Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, Il Molino is quite a different sight
inside: bright white stucco walls accent the barreled, vaulted brick
ceilings above, giving the elegant dining room an airy, wine cellar
Francesca Buono, the owner-chef, has planned
out our five-course linner to perfection with her creative take on the
traditional Umbrian kitchen. A quick glance at the menu has us salivating.
Glasses filled with chilled vino bianco, the appetizer arrives
and our long, lazy afternoon-into-evening feast gets underway.
Three-plus hours later, our group of merry
media bids an arrivederci to super chef Francesca and waddles
out of Il Molino into the twilight, down the winding cobble to the awaiting
Tucked into our business class legroom
seats, fully reclined for extra comfort, Belinda announces tomorrow's
plan: We'll be under the Tuscan sun in Cortona. Have your luggage
packed for pick up outside your doors at 7:00 a.m. How does that sound?
Anybody listening? Hello?
Bellies quite heavy, there's nary a peep
from the peanut gallery. Heavy eyes struggle to stay open; we surrender
and fall fast asleep unaware of the nighttime drive back to Perugia
and the Hotel
To learn more about traveling in style
on one of Insight Vacations' 12 Italian premium and luxury-escorted
itineraries where you'll enjoy fine dining along the way
or one of its 100 other journeys around Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
Buonanotte e sogni d'oro.
Me Home Country Roads; The
Olive Groves of Ragani; Saintly
Historic Center; Orvieto
and the Etruscan Chef; Underground
in Perugia; Sipping
Vino and Savoring Vistas in Tuscany