Il Gusto del Paese Newsletter

March 2015

Winter at Il Gusto

Dear Friends of Il Gusto

After 35 editions of our Il Gusto del Paese Newsletter, we decided to make a change for a newer and more modern look.  Something that works on all devices, that wasn’t needed at the time of our last revision. A little different formatting and content, to keep you informed both on Italian and Umbrian topics and the upcoming events. We like to share the experiences we have so your visit or return to Umbria can include such events. We are simplifying the content and keeping more updates on the Il Gusto website. The Newsletter will contain links to get to the website for this information. With the simplified approach, we plan to be a bit more spontaneous on sending out the newsletter when we have some news we think you all will enjoy.

This edition leads you into spring but also highlights some of the great things for February, March and April.  Something to also consider for next year’s off season holiday.

I hope you like the new style and do appreciate your feedback and any suggestions.





Winter in Italy

Many people think that the best time to travel to Italy is during the warmer summer months, but I like to encourage people to consider visiting in the wintertime.


Many people think that the best time to travel to Italy is during the warmer summer months, but I like to encourage people to consider visiting in the wintertime. In January, February and March (especially in the central region of Umbria) temperatures are relatively moderate (40-55°F/5-13°C) and there are plenty of bright sunny days to enjoy.  Just put on a warm coat, hat, scarf, gloves, grab an umbrella and you’re good to go! There’s so many great reasons to spend winter in Italy - below are just a few: 

No Crowds.  Stroll through museums and hill towns at a leisurely pace - you’re more likely to meet locals and get to know the area better when you’re not competing with a rush of tourists during high season. Day trips to Rome and Florence are void of 3-hour queues to see David and the Vatican. In fact, you’re often able to walk right in without a reservation! 

The Smaller Price Tag.  Off-season generally means better airfares and lower rates on accommodations. In slower periods you may find discounts on tours, rental cars, plus you’re more likely to secure seats on trains, ferries and flights within Europe.

Eat Differently.  In Umbria, where the slow food movement was born, people take great pride in serving seasonal local products. The winter menus feature dishes filled with ingredients you might not normally see in the summer months like artichokes, porcini mushrooms, truffles, chestnuts, savory dark greens, and... wait for it... Italian hot chocolate! This creamy, thick and rich beverage is one you drink with a spoon.  Don’t forget to ask for panna (whipped cream) on the top! 



Wintertime is Carnevale time in Italy. This colorful holiday coincides with the Christian calendar, commencing 40 days before Easter, ending on Fat Tuesday (Martedi Grasso) - one day before the start of Lent. 


The most famous and opulent of all Carnevale celebrations, of course, happens in Venice. People from all over the world come to the canaled city to take part in a tradition that dates back to the 12th century. The massive 17-day event culminates with ritzy masquerade balls and lavish parades.  In smaller towns and villages you’ll find sweeter, gentler Carnevale events with children dressed up like fairy princesses and super heroes rather than in powdered wings and gilded porcelain masks. Buy a bag of paper confetti (called coriandoli) for €1 and join the party!


La Festa di San Valentino (St. Valentine’s Day)

 St. Valentine was a 3rd century saint commonly associated with romantic love. History and legend have become intertwined, but the story goes something like this: San Valentino was born in 197AD and was martyred by Emperor Aurelian and buried at the cemetery on Via Flaminia in Rome on February 14th.  The sentimental Saint Valentine would cut hearts from parchment and give them to soldiers and persecuted Christians as a reminder of their vows and God’s love. 


Today, you can visit the relics of San Valentino at the Basilica di San Valentino in the Umbrian town of his birth, Terni. Basilica di San Valentino, Viale Papa Zaccaria, 12, Terni.

Experience the enchanting, romantic atmosphere of la dolce vita while wrapped in a soft, warm blanket in front of a crackling fire. Umbria in winter?  Perche no?


Upcoming Events in Umbria and Beyond

February & March

  • 22 Jan – 9 Apr - Vision in Musica 2015. Art & cultural festival. Terni

  • 27 Feb – 8 Mar - 52nd Mostra Mercato Nazionale del tartufo Nero Pregiato di Norcia e dei Prodotti Tipici 2015.  Norcia. A festival celebrating the famous black truffle of Umbria.

  • Ends 8 Mar - Museums Church Umbri. Gubbio. Artistic events and cultural itineraries around the theme of women. Info:
  • Late Mar – 1 May - Painting of Skies. Castiglione del Lago. Festival of kites on the shores of Lake Trasimeno. 
  • 19 Mar - Torciata di San Giuseppe, Pitigliano. An ancient Maremman festival. Info: or


  • 1st or 2nd Sunday in Apr - Tulip Festival. Castiglione del Lago.
  • 5 Apr - Easter Sunday. Assisi. The most colorful yet solemn Easter celebrations are held in St. Francis's Umbrian hometown. 
  • Easter - Ovo Pinto. Civitella del Lago. An exhibit of exquisitely painted Easter eggs, near Lake Corbara. Info:
  • 15 Apr – 20 May - Cantamaggio. Terni. Festival celebrating the return of spring and the reawakening of nature from its winter sleep. 
  • 20 Apr – 24 Apr - Umbria Jazz Gospel & Soul Easter Festival 4. Terni.

Links That We Like
Enjoy learning from someone that is an expert at Italian and Umbrian cooking with great recipes and now videos.  Sign up for the blog, seasonal recipes arrive in your inbox each week and a great archive on her website. and
A favorite tour and shopping trip in Montefalco.  A warm and welcoming family with quality linens at the factory and wines at the cantina.  Be sure to ask about the tour and tasting lunch. Augusta Pardi is a wonderful hostess and Linda Pardi makes a great lunch.
Cooking school, bed and breakfast, wonderful hospitality.  A structure in Todi with magnificent views we previously managed transformed by the new owners to a cooking school with seasonal cooking and much more.