Foligno, Umbria

The food scene in Foligno is staggering. Take a passeggiata and you'll see the streets packed and the outdoor restaurants full of a lively crowd. There's almost always a festival happening in Foligno, if you are staying anywhere in the area, make sure you check Foligno's website for news. Particularly noteworthy is the Quintana (which happens in fall and spring).

The park, or canape, in Foligno is lovely. If you arrive with children, this is a great spot to sit down and let them burn off steam. We've enjoyed more than our share of kebabs in that park. Why kebabs? We have no idea. Somehow that's always what we craved while at the canape.

Right outside of Foligno, I recommend Centro de lu Munno (dialect for "Center of the World"), another culinary treasure curtesy of Brenda and Graziano. There is no sign, but the location is on the website, and (hot tip!) it's situated directly beside what Graziano says is the most stunning macelleria in the area. The provenance of their meat is apparently impeccable. In any case, Centro de lu Munno is the building beside it, recognizable by its wall of metal boxes, out of which grow wee olive trees and rosemary bushes. I hear the restaurant has wonderful grilled meats, but we ourselves feasted on their antipasti selection and a round of pizzas. I love traveling with Italians who somehow know how to ask for "a selection of antipasti that you you are particularly proud of, enough for all of us, but not so much that we can't eat our dinner."  A nod, and then the appearance of a platter of salumi and cheese, as well as a platter of snails, cotiche (remember this from IBC?), a pate of lentils, truffled scrambled eggs, and coratella (a spring/Easter dish of lamb lungs, liver, and heart). It was interesting how three of these items once made the majority of my family cringe, and this time, we dove into all of it. Remember with the cotiche, how I could hardly get my family to taste it? This time, it was all of our favorite, hands down. I still wasn't too fond of snails, though Gabe and Keith loved them. And none of us submitted to the charms of coratella. Frankly, we were just glad we didn't have to pretend to like it, like we did when it was served at Mario's house. The pizzas ranked up with our top two or three in Italy, with their Neopolitan like stretchy crust, but without the sogginess that offended the sensibilities of some in my family when we dined in Naples. Super savory tomato sauce, interesting toppings—I got an Amatriciana pizza with guanciale that was divine, Keith's pizza with porcini, beef carpaccio, and arugula initially threw me off because I do expect tomato sauce on my pizza, but I soon swooned once the flavors melded and I let go of expectations. The menu is in dialect, and you won't find any tourists. Also, apparently in warmer months, roof-top dining, with views over the farmland, is available. 

If your craving tends towards something sweet, I recommend in the strongest of terms the Sicilian bakery I reference numerous times in my book and never told you the name of. Why? Because I didn't know it! A reader just emailed me yesterday to ask what it was, so I combed through photographs until I found one of a package of pastries wrapped in paper with the shop brand. I zoomed in and—Eureka! The shop is called Pasticceria Siciliana Farruggia, and they have a Facebook page which can help wth navigation and also drooling over once you're home and fondly remembering their spectacular sfogliatelle. And granita. And cannoli. Okay, I'll stop now.

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