The Giro d’Italia is history and tradition, and in Italy tradition is inextricably linked to good food and fine wine. The Giro celebrates one of the Italian excellences, the Sagrantino di Montefalco, with a stage that crosses Umbria and its enchanting villages.
Everybody knows Italy is famous all over the world for its wonderful landscapes, art and its fascinating traditions, especially relating to its cuisine.
Each Italian region boasts a typical recipe, that is always accompanied with a good glass of wine and the right company: conviviality is indeed a key element of the Italian culinary tradition. Food and wine are elements that always come together: you eat and drink while chatting, laughing, quarreling, or watching sports on TV, adding, among the dressings on the table, adrenaline and cheering.
The Giro d’Italia is an event that made its way into Italian homes and bars, and finds one of its highest expressions on the streets of the country; usually, the fans are waiting for the start of the race and for the athletes to pass on the edge of the roads provided by the path, sharing food, and opening some bottles of wine opening together.
And it’s exactly because the Giro has always been intertwined with the traditions that are dearest to Italians, that one particular stage – the tenth one – was designed for celebrating one of the richest and most renowned areas known for the quality of its food and wine products: Umbria.
The tenth stage will celebrate the Sagrantino di Montefalco that is produced using 100% Sagrantino grapes, one of the grapes with the most tannins in the world which give the wines a pure dark/black color and a bouquet of flavours characterized by red fruits, cinnamon and an earthy scent. The Sagrantino Stage offers an initially flat path starting from Foligno, then alternating highly articulated climbs and descents to the finish line marked by the splendid and picturesque village of Montefalco.
Together, we will discover he places and flavors of the tenth stage of the Giro d’Italia.
The vineyards of Sagrantino di Montefalco
Foligno and its surroundings
Foligno is an ancient town that emerges in the center of the Umbrian Valley and is crossed by the Topino river. Enclosed within its walls, it stands out for its particular charm and the beauty of its architecture. Following the course of the Topino that crosses the city, you can discover wonderful and unmissable places. In Piazza della Repubblica are the Duomo, Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Trinci, the latter was the residence of the Trinci guelf lordship which ruled the city between the 14th and 15th centuries. The wonderful Trinci Palace now hosts the Pinacoteca Civica and several frescoes from the 15th century, and its courtyard characterized by cruise lines is particularly striking in the evening when the porches and three mullioned windows lighten up in beautiful contrast with the dark stone of the building and the night sky.
In addition, in the town of Foligno there is the traditional and picturesque Giostra Quintana, a knightly tournament in costume where ten pairs of horses and riders challenge in representing their wards (a must-see event if you are in the area in June or September).
During the journey of discovering art and historical events, even the palate wants its part. The typical cuisine of the area is rich and tasty: it offers legume recipes (grass pea soup), truffles and wild game (truffle pappardelle or wild game ragu), sprinkled with awesome local wine. In this regard, after visiting the city of Foligno, you can explore the surrounding area – and, following the tracks of the Giro runners – you can go to the Bevagna area at Tenuta Castelnuovo. In this fantastic agricultural estate, consisting of 30 hectares of vineyards owned by the Lunelli family (producers of the Ferrari sparkling wine), you will be able to take a guided tour with wine tasting to discover their most valuable wines, like the Ziggurat or the Lampante Montefalco Riserva.
The runners will be pursuing the finish line at Montefalco, a magnificent medieval village, rich in history and tradition. Montefalco is called “Umbria’s Railing” because it stands on top of a hill overlooking the Clitunno, Tiber and Topino valleys, which is why the city is full of panoramic balconies, perfect for taking memorable photos worthy of a great landscape painter. The most famous and suggestive panoramic point is the one facing Porta della Rocca and Cedro del Libano, from which you can see Foligno, Assisi and Santa Maria degli Angeli. But the breathtaking landscapes and picturesque views is not the only thing that Montefalco can offer. In fact, this town is rich in ancient traditions, both from wine and gastronomic point of view.
In the district of Porta Camiano, the oldest part of the city, you can visit the historic vineyards of the city such as the garden of the Convent of Santa Chiara, Largo di Campo Vaccino and Porta Camiano. Moreover, in the area near Montefalco you may visit one of the oldest agricultural estates in the region, the Proprietà Antonelli, that was founded in 1881 and produces some of the finest wines and products in Italy. You can visit the vineyards and the cellar and then enjoy a delicious lunch of bruschetta, cheeses, farm salami along with a tasting four wines from the Antonelli estate, or opt for a genuine vegetable snack and excellent extra virgin olive oil. If you do not want to miss a sensational experience discovering Montefalco’s food and wine heritage, but you have children, you can try a fun truffle hunt along with a cute truffle dog that will make the younger guests fall in love.
Moreover, every year in August, Montefalco hosts one of the most interesting and quaint historical representations in Italy, the Ox Race. This event recalls an ancient popular game in which a bull, during the Christmas period, had to go through the town’s streets between the screaming crowd and then finish on the tables of the inhabitants of Montefalco on Christmas Day. Nowadays, the bulls face this race in optimal conditions, after months of training and, above all, with the certainty that they won’t be served on the table at the end of the competition! During the Race, Montefalco becomes colored by the banners of the four neighborhoods participating in the competition, more than 200 people in vintage clothes animate the streets and taverns become the most striking places in the city where you can enjoy authentic dishes created with excellent local products while immersed in a cheerful, carefree and entertaining atmosphere.