At Castello Cortevecchio, history lovers can enjoy the evocative atmosphere of this 11th century castle, once a defensive stronghold for the area. Nature lovers can savor the wooded gardens, expansive views and the silence threaded with birdsong. But oh, food lovers be prepared! Cortevecchio offers no less than 26 different pastas for their first course alone. It seemed fitting that I choose a dish that celebrates both Umbria and the arrival of Spring. A plate of handmade fettuccine, made with farro flour, dressed in a delicate sauce of fresh asparagus tips and cherry tomatoes ties all the culinary pleasures of the region together. One of the first plants to be grown in the ancient Middle East, farro is a type of wheat that grows in wild and cultivated varieties, and it is still a popular food in Italy. Although most often eaten as a whole grain in soups, farro as a pasta is highly nutritious, very tasty and worth ordering when you find it on a menu.
But how does one choose a second course from a menu that offers just as many choices? Tagliata, delicate slices of tender beef, never fails - whether served with porcini mushrooms, balsamic and arugula, or simply drizzled with olive oil and rosemary. The mixed grill goes beyond pork to include rabbit and quail. A robust red wine from Umbrian vineyards near Trevi makes for a “good marriage” with these regional specialties.
The restaurant is completely glass-enclosed, gifting diners with views of the surrounding woodlands, shades of green punctuated today by the carmine brilliance of a massive rhododendron bush. The service is friendly and efficient and the ambiance is one of quiet pleasure, occasionally pierced by the joviality of local families celebrating special occasions – today two First Communions! It is easy to see why they have chosen Cortevecchio for their festivities. A very, very good choice.