<Editor's Note> Clearly I've been too lazy/busy to properly blog about our time in Italy. Frankly, it was such an overwhelming experience that trying to capture it accurately is a little overwhelming as well. So rather than give it the full treatment, I'm going to allow myself to be a little more brief in my descriptions, so that at least I can get some of the photos up for people to enjoy.</Editor's Note>
So one of the coolest things about spending 5 weeks in Italy was that it gave us the opportunity to visit places and do things that we wouldn't have otherwise gone or done. Rather than having to cram in all the big sites in only 7 days, we figured we'd leave some of the big stuff (like Sienna) for another trip, and use this opportunity to get off the beaten path... Over the 4 weeks we were in Umbria we probably did a dozen day trips, not including trips into Rome. We went to the Sagra di Gelato (the festival of Gelato), the Sagra di Cacciatore (festival of the hunter), we went wine tasting in Sagrantino, we went to the museums of Olive Oil and Wine Making in Torgiano, and many, many more. Here are some that I actually took pictures at.
Our first real day trip was to a place called the Forest of Dunarobba. During some excavations there they discovered fossilized trees that were between 2-3M years old. To protect them from the elements, they have little tents over top of them. Wacky. Of course the guide spoke nothing but Italian, so we didn't learn much, but we did get to see some really cool old trees.
Of course when my parents were with us, we had to do some touring around as well. We chose to head to a nearby town called Spoleto - we had heard some really cool things about it from Ethan over at Urbanspoon and it didn't disappoint. Among other things, it boasted an amazing old stone bridge that spanned the nearby valley. It was one of the most impressive things we saw on the entire trip.
During our trip we learned that the some of the best cured meats in the country come from a little town called Norica. In fact, most of the cured meat butchers are called Norceria or Norcineria (as opposed to Macellaria or fresh meat). So of course, we had to make a day trip to Norcia to check it out first hand. We had a great lunch and bought lots of cool meat. My favorite shop basically had hanging sausage as wallpaper.....