Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >

madonnadelpiatto's Profile

Title Last Reply

Venice, Umbria and Lake Como trip September 2015

Have you been in Umbria already? If not, for wine tasting you need to head to Montefalco for a classic Sagrantino tasting. I am sure that various forum regulars will have their favorite wineries to recommend. We prefer the smaller ones like Romanelli or De Filippo. We also like two of the Assisi Rosso wineries, Sportoletti and Saio. Sportoletti also produces olive oil.

Near to Piegaro, in the area of Castiglione del Lago, Fanini used to make great reds. I haven't tasted it for a while but their Sangiovese, which I often find uninteresting, was one of the few really worth drinking.

September is not a great time for olive oil as harvests starts a few weeks later. You can however visit a few producers who will be happy to offer you a tasting of this season's oil. Decimi in Passaggio di Bettona has a great reputation. One of my favorite small producers is San Potente near Assisi. Their oil is often sold out early in the season, but you could try to ask them for a tasting

Oct 20, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

2015 Guides

Italians might go to the cutting edge places so they can boast they have been. Then they go to their mamma or nonna to eat well.

Oct 13, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Any Interesting Food Blogs on Bologna?

I have no personal experience, but I have known Carmelita Caruana online for years. The photos of her cooking classes in Bologna are always fantastic. I recall she used to offer food tours but I am not sure if she still does but you could drop her a message

Oct 02, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Cooking class/"landmark" bar: 2 Venice questions

Sue if you go to Tuscany, I warmly advice you to contact Judy Witts at Divina Cucina for a cooking class or one of her famous market tours. You will have a wonderful time with one of Italy's culinary experts!

Aug 11, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

HELP! What Goes With Grilled Veggies?

I'd also go for sustance, a potato salad or poatatoes baked in a salt crust

Aug 11, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Home Cooking

Trip report (long): Bologna, Ravenna, Umbria, Rome

Thanks for the report, it's a pity that Sergei did not live up to expectations but I am happy you liked you experience Umbria. Rebecca of Brigolante and Mark and Giselle are definitely among the best hosts you can have during a stay here!

Jul 25, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Restaurants in Bologna, Italy

I am not sure you would consider it a place for an anniversary as it's very simple, but of all the restaurants we tried in Bologna we absolutely adored Sergei. I make several hundred ravioli per year by hand and I thought that their stuffed pasta is out of this world. I have never had anything so perfect even in upscale restaurants.

Jul 03, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Agriturismo in Emilia-Romagna

you could contact Carmelita who is in Bologna, the photos of the food she prepares during cooking classes are fantastic. I believe she used to run food tours but I don't know the present situation

Jun 17, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Fred Plotkin on Italy's changing eating practice

Sometime I wonder if people ever takes care to ask the locals. I live in a rural area. One of my neighbors grows organic khorasan (kamut) and sells it as flour or pasta he makes himself. Another neighbor grows rare black garbanzo beans. A couple of km further we have a new natural wine vineyard and a breeder of free-ranging pigs. In Santa Maria degli angeli we have 2 cheese makers who collect milk daily from the local farmers within a few km radius and make mozzarella and ricotta twice a day, plus pecorino of every age and shape. In Gubbio there is a farm that has started producing gluten free flour from Cannabis. Yes! it says on the lable that has no psicoactive effect and you can make cookies of it. I know more people than I can count who have synergic gardens. None of my neighbors ever buys olive oil at the supermarket because we all make it, one of the best olive oils in the world.

In Bevagna we have one of the few examples of a wheat farm which also has an antique restored stone mill and bakes the most amazing bread and cookies.

Of course we do have Lidl, McD and all the unavoidable evil but please, look a bit further than the fancy restaurants. They are not representative of what people does. The countryside is alive with people producing good and exciting foods. You have to know where to find them, but any self-proclaimed expert should at least try.

For what the opinion of an Italian can count I totally agree with Allende, "It's never been easier to eat farm to table."

Apr 19, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Good place to buy truffle products in Rome?

I would also try some larger supermarket like Coop or Conad. Urbani has decent products. I prefer the sliced truffles packed in oil to all the others when truffle is out of season.

Mar 28, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Looking for a great rustic agriturismo where we can learn the classics from the chef

There are so many possibilities in Italy! In Umbria and Tuscany there are literally hundreds of agriturismo and many offer cooking lessons in a local, authentic family setting. Do you already have an itinerary? Do you have a preference for one or another wine?

Olive harvest does not start until half way October, so you might also need to adjust dates if you want to see the harvest and pressing.

Mar 19, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

How to Spot Good Gelato

Spot on, the artificial coloring and foamy looks are a giveaway and have sadly become way too common. I would also add that bad gelato is horrendously sweet. Really good gelato is not supposed to make you thirsty, which is what happens with the bad ones!

Jan 25, 2014
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Florence/Umbria Trip Report

Thak you Jessica it was a pleasure to help you discovering some of the gastronomic delights of our region!

Dec 04, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

First trip to Italy- Florence and Venice, please help with gluten free options

I am wheat intolerant, I am Italian and I can confirm that gluten-related problems in Italy are on the rise and very well known.

Most supermarkets carry GF products, therefore snacks are always available. However, you need to stock as historic town centres don't have supermarkets which tend to be in the suburbs.

Above all your friend must make clear if she is celiac rather than simply on a gluten free diet. If she is celiac and highly sensitive when visting a non certified restaurant she needs to explain that any contamination can be cause of serious illness.

If she is on a gluten free diet then she can pick from any menu as protein-based dishes and vegetables are available everywhere.

Please also check this article for a few more location-specific tips

Oct 28, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Any place special for truffles in Milan or Rome?

There's still plenty summer truffle in Umbria and although not as exquisite as the winter black is better than nothing if well prepared.

Of course I never eat truffle in Rome as I live in truffle-land but Katie Parla mentions a truffle place in this article

And I guess Elizabeth might know something.

Oct 04, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

NYC foodies in Umbria/Tuscany

Jennifer do order the antipasto della casa and only one main. You will not want to take anything else after the antipasto. Last time I had to order dessert because it was my birthday and I thought I would die! Happy anniversary!

Sep 17, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

NYC foodies in Umbria/Tuscany

you are not alone, all our holidays are like this and we never regret it!

Sep 17, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

NYC foodies in Umbria/Tuscany

We love, love, love Le Casaline near Poreta. In fact we went there for my birthday last July and had a great meal as every single time we have visited in the last 10 years.

They breed goose (though they must keep them far from the restaurant) and make salami and tiny prosciutto of it which they serve as a part of their magnificent mixed appetizer. Last time we had this splendid multicolor pasta which was not only beautiful but very delicious. I make several thousand ravioli per year, so I sort of know what to expect for good quality :)

Sep 16, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Help dining in the boonies at junction of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio

Perugia? not a lot, a couple of kebab places, some bad Chinese. International food never succeeds in Umbria. Sad for us residents, but surely not a problem for those of you who wishes to try the many wonderful local foods.

By the way, I guess you will not be far from Citta di Castello. We love Pappa e Ciccia there. It's a tiny place and very popular, make sure to book. The cook and owner is a woman who has traveled the world on cruise ships. While she cookes fabulous local fare, she loves to talk about her travels when the service is finished. That's the closest you can ge to an international experience in our side of the culinary world :)

Sep 10, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Lunch in Umbria

Are you looking for upscale or home-style food?
For home-style and autentic (and a bit off the beaten path) head to Osteria del teatro in Foligno, the apetizer is spectacular, so it's the beef tagliata and the molten chocolate cake

In Valnerina, Ristorante del Ponte Scatolini in Scheggino for truffle dishes and trout

Near Poreta (Trevi) Le Casaline has a unique selection of cured goose meats and lovely outdoor seating

For a modern food but quite a bit more affordable than the famous guys, Nanà in Perugia is a favorite

Enjoy !

Jul 23, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Umbria Abruzzo tips

3 nights around Perugia gives you 2 full days to explore so you will need some careful planning. I agree with Jennifer that Umbra's best and more accessible destination for wine is Montefalco. If you go there for wine tasting, I highly recommend Osteria del Teatro in Foligno. Despite the slightly formal look of the place, the cuisine is home-style and very much based on high quality ingredients. The menu is fixed (approx 30 € per pers with drinks).

For your second day I would suggest the maginificent drive to Piano Grande di Castelluccio, with lunch at Da Richetta in Visso, a snack of pecorino at Castelluccio and all the salami you can have in Norcia, Umbria's cured pork mecca.

You can check a few suggestions for sightseeing and for good simple restaurants in the link below my signatue under "visit Umbria"


Jun 24, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Good food ideas to bring to Italy from the US?

Microplanes and Kitchen Aid tools are available in good cooking shops, even our Grancasa in rural Umbria has them. However they make great gifts if your hosts like to cook. Years ago someone from California gave me a reusable non stick baking liner. Those are more difficult to find and I love it. Even my cooking class guests from North America often don't now what it is and promise to buy one when they go back home!

Jun 06, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Good food ideas to bring to Italy from the US?

Sweets! Over the years I received some fabulous chocolate pralines from special shops in the US, high end chocolate, lovely. I have loved artisan pecorino from Maine and Ice wine from Canada and indeed good vanilla extract which is very hard to come by here. Do you know if you relatives like exotic food of any sort? How I miss a jar of decent Mexican salsa! Tortilla chips are all the rage at the moment but teh salsa is mediocre to say the least. And by the way we love maple syrup but we are not standard Italians :) .

Jun 03, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Moderately priced one day cooking class in or near Cortona?

If you are looking for a hands-on experience, this is the market price for small group cooking classes in Central Italy. If you find something significantly cheaper, then make sure to ask what's included in the program, the number of participants and the qualifications of your teacher.

For example going to a farmhouse to see a local woman who makes pasta while a translator gives you a general idea of what happens may be picturesque but it's not a cooking class :)

May 28, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Rome party of 15 . . . impossibile?

I don't think it's impossible but restaurants in Italy rarely take reservations so much in advance from people they don't know. I suggest to ask the managment of your accommodation to call them on your behalf. In a city like Rome a meal for 15 people should be easy.

May 16, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Eating in Italy While Pregnant

I wonder if your doctor has explained the reason of this caution and if you have been tested for toxoplasmosis. (see pregnancy caution


Based on the test, which is routine for pregnant women in all western countries, if you have had toxo, you can eat cured meats. If you did not have toxo you better don't eat cured meats to avoid possible infections which could affect your baby.

May 08, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Italy food recommendations needed!

Maureen I am an innkeeper and I don't take kickbacks. Recommendations have to be taken for what they are. What someone finds best for themselves might be totally uninteresting for me. However, I have traveled all over the world and thanks to the locals have found places that no guidebook/review site would have ever even considered listing. It works for me but many feel safer asking their fellow countrymen. Nothing wrong with that.

Apr 24, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

Italy food recommendations needed!

how about asking the locals? I am Italian and I love to check reviews and guidebooks. However when I get to a new destination I always ask the owner/manager of my accommodation for restaurant suggestions. Invariably I find the best places this way based on most accurate descriptions. Few populations in the world love to talk about food as much as Italians, just ask and they will be happy to oblige.

Apr 23, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

I just cant decide where to go!

Dereck regardelss of where you will decide to go, having some sort of gastronomic farmhouse experience is not difficult. You can for example decide to stay in an agriturismo where cooking classes or tasting of locally produced foods/wine are available. Choose a small, family run farm where you will have an authentic experience and you will get to meet the locals. Once you have narrowed your area down, start checking review sites and/or guidebooks and then just send them an email to book. Same as what you would do in North America. By now most farms working with tourists have websites where you can get all information you want.

Mar 18, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy

I just cant decide where to go!

I second Jennifer's recommendation about Umbria. Not only we have plenty truffles at the end of October but we have olive harvest. You get to see the olive mills and to taste some of the most magnificent olive oil in the world. Whatever area you choose however, please remember that 10 days is very short as every time you change hotel you need at least 1/2 day to check in and out and move to your next destination. So keep to two places and explore what's near you otherwise most of your holiday will be spent in the car/train!

Mar 17, 2013
madonnadelpiatto in Italy