From the Umbria Jazz Festival to Sagrantino red wine: delighting spirit and palate
In Italy, the Umbria Jazz Festival is a doubtless powerful magnet for jazz lovers. A 10-day journey of high spirit that every summer, in the second and third weeks of July, attracts thousands of visitors from over the world to Perugia, the fantastic setting of the Festival.
The first edition was officially held in 1973, with concerts of Aktuala and Thad Jones & Mel Lewis orchestra in the town of Terni. Since the first edition, the success was enormous, and it has been a never-ending succession of artists of a very high caliber, from B.B. King, James Brown and Eric Clapton to performers of pop and rock genres such as Santana, Van Morrison, Sting and Elton John.
The 2017 Umbria Jazz Festival (7th – 16th July) will be a special one. In fact, this edition will gravitate towards the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the births of jazz icons Thelonius Monk, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. Many Italian and international artists are going to perform tributes to these memorable jazz singers. The light of Ella is going to shine again thanks to performances that will tell stories about her life.
Perugia turns into a global musical village for ten days. Every hour you listen to notes breathing medieval vibes and tasting the excellences of this magic region.
Combining music and gastronomic specialties from this territory is the tradition during the Umbria Jazz. The Festival is held in a suggestive area, where art meets gentle hills, where frescoes painted more than six hundred years ago meet typical food & wine flavors. In the Green Heart of Italy, history, food, wine and spirituality embrace anyone coming here in a mystical atmosphere, out of the world.
Among Umbrian hills, surrounded by towering medieval castles and the remains of past Roman glories, the Sagrantino Route represents a path of taste where one can savor the best local excellences, from black truffle to pecorino cheese, from olive oil to Sagrantino red wine. The heart of this itinerary is Montefalco, a small village called the “Balcony of Umbria” thanks to its position overlooking the central part of the region.
The cultivation of grapevine in the territory of Montefalco dates to Roman times. Pliny the Elder tells of a vine of special prestige. However, Sagrantino grapes were introduced relatively late, in Medieval Ages. This grape variety grows only around the hilltop town of Montefalco, in an optimal position with unique geological characteristics.
Sagrantino is a full-body red wine with an intense blackberry flavor and intense ruby in color. Thanks to its extremely rich polyphenol and tannin content, this grape has great longevity and requires a long period of refinement. Sagrantino holds up to various meats, from beef and pork to goat and lamb.
Montefalco is equally celebrated for the frescoes of its churches and its sanctuaries, which make the town a fundamental reference for understanding Umbrian painting and spirituality.
With the advent of Christianity, Umbria became the cradle of spiritual and devotional movements that have helped to build the places of celebration: churches, monasteries and convents. The region gave birth to many saints and important figures like St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Rita of Cascia.
If you are aiming for an authentic journey, the St. Francis Route offers a choice of various itineraries to re-experience the life of the ‘Poverello d’Assisi’.
One of these routes connects Assisi to Perugia, following the real steps of St. Francis. The most evocative destination of the route is probably Assisi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can’t miss the Great Fortress, the Basilica of St. Clare and the magnificent Basilica of St. Francis.
The trip ends in Perugia, stage of the Umbria Jazz, where you will be captured not only from the great jazz music, but also from the sweetness of chocolate.
At the House of Chocolate in Perugia, in fact, it is possible to learn about the art of chocolate making and taste delicacies inside the factory.
Finally, don’t forget to look for some itineraries regarding the craft of Umbrian’s olive oil. These routes take the visitor through the phases of the production of olive oil, from the growing of the trees to the selection and collection of the fruits, from the process of transformation to the storing of the product. Umbrian olive oil tends to have an artichoke and green tomato aroma, fruity flavor and great body. It is a perfect match with no salty bruschetta (the original bruschetta is made of bread, garlic and olive oil on the top) and porcini mushroom salads.
Every corner of Umbria shows its magic and beauty. And people from this territory perfectly represent one of the best excellences of warm Italian hospitality.
Umbria, a region in the heart of Italy that will steal yours.
By Margherita Biagi
Margherita is an expert in traditional Made in Italy production, in particular what concerns the food, wine and motor (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini) sectors of Emilia Romagna, the region where she was born. She specializes in intercultural business communication with experience in dealing with companies that want to expand activities on the international market, in particular the Chinese market due to her studies of language, culture and economy of China.