Accademia Vergani

Travelogue Umbria - Shining stars in the Italian heartland

Southern Tuscany like in a picture book: hills curved as if by an artist's hand, cypress-lined driveways to proud palazzi, vineyards and olive groves, now and then a defiant medieval village. A soothing calm lies over the gentle landscape. An hour's flight from Zurich is the unexciting, the exciting.


The medieval town of Montepulciano is perched on a hilltop visible from afar. There you can taste the legendary "wine of the nobles" in the Talosa winery not far from the pretty main square. Vino Nobile is also available at the typical Italian wine bar in Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi. The name of the wine bar is pure poetry: "E lucevan le stelle" (the stars are shining). So don't be surprised if romantic thoughts arise in a place with such a name. If you should even spontaneously be tempted to propose in this ambience, you can visit the popular marriage church of San Biagio just below the town. And because the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, we recommend a visit to the Ristorante "La Grotta" right next to the holy site. There, by the way, you can reconsider the matter of getting married over a glass of Vino Nobile ...

Further east lies the ancient cultural city of Cortona, a former capital of Etruscan civilization. Today it is famous for its DOC Syrah wines. And as the setting in the film "Under the Tuscan Sun". Connoisseurs indulge in an Italian aperitif under the arcades of the "Teatro Signorelli" café. Inside the building is one of the most beautiful old theatre halls in Italy. A stone's throw away, the Trattoria "Dardano" tempts you with excellent local cuisine. If you haven't reserved a table, you can take a seat on an old chair in the "open air" waiting room on the sidewalk in front of the trattoria.



The main cultural and spiritual attraction of Umbria is undoubtedly the unique city of Assisi. At the end of the 12th century, two young people who made world history lived and worked here: Francis and Clare of Assisi. The two saints are still highly venerated today. Around the globe, Franciscan monks and Poor Clares follow the ascetic lifestyle of these mystics. They even left traces in Umbrian viticulture: Monks cultivated the grape variety Sagrantino, which translated means "holy wine", in Montefalco near Assisi for centuries. Marco Caprai, the legendary Umbrian wine king, is proud of the rich historical heritage of his homeland: "Here in Montefalco, every brick looks back on a long history." With a touch of reverence, he leads us to the listed church of San Fortunato, where the world-famous frescoes by the painter Benozzo Gozzoli can be admired.Change of scenery: In neighboring Bevagna, Marco Caprai shows us the traditional butcher's shop "Tagliavento", which means "to cut the air". Owner Rosita, a woman as energetic as she is original, explains the strange name of her shop: "My grandfather used to chop meat so fast that he also cut the air at the same time!" She hands us delicious smelling sausages and ripe salami. I confess that even I, a part-time vegetarian, was blown away.



A few steps away, Caprai shows us his insider tip: the wine bar "Bottega di Assu". The decoration consists of a unique mishmash of books, photos and art. The large-format menu is reminiscent of a medieval parchment scroll. Assunta charmingly pours excellent local wines. Italian jazz plays in the background, and if you're lucky, Caprai's portly chef Salvatore is handing out fresh roses from his garden in the tiny wine bar. He also sings Paolo Conte's song in a sonorous voice. Truly, Umbria must be the heart of Italy. It doesn't get any more Italian than this!

Picture: Flavia Vergani | Text: Damian Zingg


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