I know, tough job, but someone has to do it…This year Karen saw an intriguing event: five nights for eight people in a villa in Umbria, generously donated by Sabatino Tartufi, an important Italian supplier of truffles. Sold! We assembled our group and put a date on the calendar for late October.
I asked Make-A-Wish for a contact at Sabatino that could help with things like the address of the villa and other logistics-related questions. Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from a guy named Federico, offering to help. Federico proceeded to give me not only the logistical information I needed, but spent nearly an hour on the phone with me, enthusiastically sharing with me his favorite restaurants, wineries, hill towns, etc. Clearly very passionate about Umbria, and truffles! He mentioned that he was based in the USA but would email me the contact information for Grazia over in Italy, who he said was the perfect person to help organize our trip.
When I received Federico’s email, I was astounded to see from the email signature that he was, in fact, the CEO of Sabatino! Feeling very flattered that the CEO took such an interest in making our trip successful, I proceeded to contact Grazia, and over the next few weeks she put together for us an absolutely fantastic itinerary – winery visits, olive oil tastings, cooking classes, truffle hunting, special tours, dinner reservations, and more. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip!
Fast forward now to early November, and we are back in Virginia. The trip was, indeed, fantastic! Here are a few general impressions…
Umbria is rustic, unspoiled, and beautiful. Massive peaks, windy country roads, lovely towns placed on hilltops. Pictures and words do not really do it justice, you need to visit to appreciate it!
Umbrian cuisine is wonderful – simple foods, comfort foods, usually cooked by grandmothers it seems! Just a few ingredients in each dish, ingredients of good quality, well prepared. I looked forward to every meal, even when I was so full from the last one that I could barely contemplate eating.
Our hosts from Sabatino were so warm and generous. Every day when we returned from our adventures, there was a fire ready to go in the fireplace. They cooked a couple wonderful meals for us, and provided a kitchen well stocked with goodies for breakfast. The villa itself was beautiful, and in a fantastic setting.
We went on a truffle hunting expedition in the woods near the villa, with one of the world’s sweetest truffle dogs. It was amazing to watch how gentle she was with the truffles she found – bringing them back to her owner without the slightest hint of a tooth mark.
During our visit to Sabatino, they got word that the first white truffles of the season had been found, a rare delicacy in extremely high demand by their clients. They not only allowed us to buy a few, they came over to the villa that night to help us prepare and cook them. Not only did Vania (who is not a grandmother yet, but cooks like one!) save us from inadvertently ruining these delicacies, she showed us how to do everything from prepare truffles properly to slicing bread without smooshing it!
Such a special trip… we are already thinking about when we can go back!