You can’t know all the things about all the places. During our mad Italy roadtrip, Soren had asked me to surprise Lindsay (the girlfriend) with a side trip to her ancestral hometown: Perugia. Luckily Perugia was conveniently located between Rome and Venice. It was possible. However. Since we were fitting it in as a surprise, it was never on the official schedule, only conveniently nearby during our lunch stop. I never researched or learned anything about Perugia.
I will regret not learning about Perugia, before arriving in Perugia, to my dying day. I pray I can go back. Perugia is gorgeous! And the home of truffles & chocolate. Truffles and chocolate. It doesn’t get much better than that.
It was drizzling slightly, the skies mostly grey & overcast. We only did a small walk through the charming city, built on hills rivaling San Francisco in their steepness, before picking one of a hundred beckoning restaurants to lunch in. Soren, Christian and Lindsay toured at their regular, breakneck, speed. While Dave and I strolled slower, much slower, and I attempted some pictures in the rain. When we arrived at the agreed-upon restaurant, we’d lost them.
Restaurants, and storefronts, were narrow here. The interior barely bigger than the width of a door. We waffled on which one they’d entered. Unsure if they really had agreed on the same restaurant we agreed on. Quick peeks inside showed us only strangers. We were confused. While I re-read the hand-lettered chalk menus, looking for the dish that had caught my eye, Dave went in and asked if any Americans were seated inside.
But of course! We followed our maître d’ through the scarce, crowded tables, quickly turning a corner and descending down a small, almost-hidden, staircase into the basement. Below street-level the restaurant expanded into a cavernous affair with multiple, themed, rooms branching off a main corridor. A refreshing, eccentric little haven hidden in the heart of Umbria, Storie Perugine was the find of the trip.
We were seated at beautiful little table, in chairs literally fit for Kings, and handed thick, old books. Tucked within were menu’s filled with deliciousness. Deciding was not easy. We picked several appetizers to share, and I, of course, picked a house-made truffle pasta: Penne alla norcina della nonna con tartufo fresco di Norcia. I don’t know which was better. The appetizer or the pasta.
The appetizer was a mixed platter of cold cuts, scrambled eggs with a hint of truffles (with a warm yolk as sauce, to die for!), truffle bruschetta and cheeses. I thought I’d tasted Heaven, until my plate came out. I have never, ever had a pasta that delicious in my life. Liberally sprinkled with beautiful truffles, every bite was a delight. The prices were incredibly reasonable, I think my lunch was 9 or 10 €, and I’d expected only a taste if truffles. Instead, every mouthful was filled with the wonderful, earthy saltiness that’s distinctive to a truffle. I cannot wax poetic enough. We had unwittingly found a gem.
We ate until we were stuffed. The restaurant filled all our senses. Our eyes feasted on the eclectic decor. Our noses and tastebuds tingled with delight. Even our skin appreciate the soft, cool air underground. Reluctantly we packed up and left, hesitant to leave this little paradise in northern Italy. But we had reservations in Venice, another place on my bucketlist. Yet with a surprising lack of enthusiasm, we headed back to the car. Promising, one day, to come back and spend a week in Perugia.