Guest Blog Author – Michael “Kelly” McCoy
Everyone loves Italy. It is a classic vacation. The Colosseum in Rome. A gondola under the Bridge of Sighs in the canals of Venice. The Uffizi in Florence. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. With the wine, pasta, pizza, and art – the list is endlessly enjoyable. But with that, come the crowds and the tourist traps. What if you could enjoy Italy in its purest form? From truffles, cave-aged wine, to beer and wondrous history there is a place in Europe you can experience it all – in Umbria.
Umbria is the black truffle capital of the world. Truffles – not the chocolate but the mushroom. The slightly pungent, rich, and luxurious black truffles (more manageable than their white counterparts). You may have heard that you need a pig to hunt truffles, but when you go on a truffle hunting expedition, you learn that it is the dog that is the greatest truffle hunter. Routing out the smell, these puppers gently find these morsels and deliver them to their masters. Scrubbed clean and diced up, mix them into some homemade pasta and you may have found a piece of heaven. For the brave at heart – there are truffle chocolates. Ashley was a fan, my daughter and I…not so much.

Truffle Hunt

Bernardo and his truffle-hunting dog, Gielsomina in Umbria. Gielsomina found five truffles on our hunt.

In many ways, Umbria is the lesser-known twin to Tuscany. You will find hills lined with vineyards and hidden ancient caves that have stored wine for hundreds if not for over a thousand years. Unique to this region is a sparkling wine aged in French oak barrels. Pair it with some organic goat cheese from Viterbo, and you will find an exquisite unique experience – at an impressive savings compared to Tuscany!

Sparkling Wine

A cave near Orvieto, used for winemaking since 700 B.C. (Etruscan) is full of spumante, sparkling wine, made in the Champagne style.

For those who are not into wine, you might be surprised to learn about the emerging craft beer scene in Italy – with some great hidden treasures throughout Umbria! Elfo Pub in Perugia is the place to start. Ashley and I found this gem off the beaten path as we walked off our dinner. This place has everything a beer enthusiast loves – a dozen locally produced beers on tap, friendly and knowledgeable bartenders, and an atmosphere to match. Or, travel to Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city, and enjoy their signature blonde ale “La Bireta” along with the view. Or, if you want to really get a taste of the region you can enjoy an artisanal five-day beer tour.


Refreshing beer from the Tuscia region drank in Bagnoregio.

And then there is the history. In Italy, you are always walking among history…along with the rest of the world that decided to show up on that day. Of course, you will find the crowds in Assisi at the Basilica of St. Francis – but just like St. Peters – it is well worth it. You could also head to Perugia, where you can see where Cardinals took 11 months to decide on a Pope in 1305 – achieved only after some coercive tactics take by the populace to make a choice. Another fascinating site in Perugia are the ancient passageways of the Rocca Paolina. Finally, if you want to delve into history you will be amazed at what you find in the Etruscan towns of Orvieto or Civita di Bagnoregio – let emersion into antiquity unlock your imagination.


The old city of Bagnoregio was founded by Etruscans – sits atop an eroding volcanic rock plateau and is in danger of continual erosion.

Of course, there is more than history, beer, wine, and truffles – the most wonderful part of our time in Umbria was the people and having a chance to see their natural and humble lives. The next time, or even if it is the first time, you go to Italy – you need to experience a home-cooked family meal – ideally a Sunday lunch on a farm where they make their own mouthwatering prosciutto. For experiences like this, you need Kinship Vacations. You need Kinship Vacations to not just give you opportunities to connect and reconnect with those you love but to do so through the unique experiences you will not find on Expedia or through cookie cutter tour operators. Travel better. Together.
About Guest Blog Author – Michael “Kelly” McCoy is Ashley’s dear husband of ten years, a brilliant Army Strategist, a fantastic father of their too-smart daughter, Zora, a beer brewer/aficionado, and a dog-lover. You can read more of his work on his blog, Drink Beer, Kill War.
If you are ready to plan your trip to Italy, start by filling out our trip-planning form and schedule your initial free consultation with us today!
In the meantime…
Happy Wanderlusting!

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