Festa Monini: colors, sounds and tastes of Umbria

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Cycling around Corciano

Monini and Umbria
09 Ottobre 2014

Cycling around Corciano

A pleasant weekend immersed in the colours of autumn, pedalling effortlessly between ancient villages and rolling hills.

The trail is not long: 25 kilometres on asphalt or dirt road. The path is easy, with a height that does not exceed 500 metres. In short, it is not necessary to be a super trained professional or have mega racing bicycles to enjoy a pleasant day cycling through vineyards and olive groves, from one ancient medieval village to another. And it is precisely what we propose for a short holiday: a day to spend in serenity to recharge the body and mind with the beauty of the places, the taste of good food and a pleasant physical effort that relaxes and regenerates.
“Hills and Castles Around Corciano” is one of the trails proposed and tested by bikeinumbria.it, a regional guide dedicated to bicycle trails divided into 3 main areas: mountain bike trails, road bike trails and trails with stages for a total of 71 trails. The website includes this link (http://www.bikeinumbria.it/strada/it/itinerari/facili/itinerario03.htm) where you can find a detailed map to print and take with you during the excursion.
But here's some advice to finish the weekend with a visit to the villages you will encounter, with special attention to the unmissable local flavours.

The excursion starts from Corciano, a charming medieval town, about ten kilometres from Perugia, resting on top of a hill covered with olive trees. The historical centre is enclosed by massive 15th-century walls, with towers and ancient entrance doors. Inside, beyond the walls, the houses are made of stone, arranged like a crown and going up to piazza Coragino, a mythical Trojan, companion and rival of Ulysses, who according to a legend narrated in a chivalric poem at the end of 1200, was the founder of the city.

Walking through the medieval streets

If you want to combine cycling with the pleasure of a "cultural tour", Corciano definitely gives you a great opportunity. So we dedicate one day to looking around the city and its surroundings.
The square, adorned with an ancient well with a beautiful 16th-century parapet, is surrounded by medieval buildings and features the church of St. Mary, with a Gothic design which was then significantly modified into neoclassical style towards the end of the 19th century. It is worth a visit because it contains the beautiful Pala del Perugino with the Assumption and the Nativity as well as the Banner of the plague (commissioned in 1472 during an epidemic) which features an interesting representation of ancient Corciano. A little higher up is the church of St. Christopher and Museo d’arte Sacra (Museum of Sacred Art) and Museo della Casa Contadina (Museum of the Country House) Going down Corso Rotelli, however, you will be immersed in the medieval atmosphere created by all the beautiful public buildings that line up: Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, Palazzo dei Priori and Collegio della Mercanzia, up to the Town Hall that in the 16th century was the beautiful residence of the Della Corgna, the distinguished Renaissance family in the area. Today it houses the Antiquarium among other things, a museum that contains palaeontological, prehistoric and classic Etruscan and Roman archaeological findings. It is interesting for its exhibits but also for its innovative way of thinking of the museum as representing a dynamic moment, in relation with the territory.
After these initial stops, it will be nice to get lost in the medieval streets, discovering shops and taverns that often offer typical products of old countryside tradition such as brustengolo, humble bread made of corn and enriched with dried fruit, raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and apple slices. A great supply of energy to carry with you as a snack during the bicycle ride. Not to mention the wonderful pork-butchery products that here, as in all of Umbria, are very popular in the shops. So it will not be difficult to prepare a great picnic with pork products for the next day, or succulent sandwiches with prosciutto from Norcia, capocollo or lombetto.

Exploring the surroundings
Then taking the main road, just outside the walls, we find the church of St. Francis, with the beautiful and simple polychrome façade, pink and white. Inside, there are still traces of Umbrian-Senese frescoes from 1300.
The church and former convent of St. Augustine are also from the 14th century. They stand on a hill, next to that of Corciano, outside Porta Santa Maria, completely surrounded by olive trees.
There is definitely no shortage of olive-trees, forests and nature around Corciano; a nice trip not to be missed is that to Monte Malbe. It is not more than 4 or 5 kilometres from the town centre which stretch almost completely along a winding road surrounded by trees, landscape and an autumnal feel. You leave Corciano through Via Roma which then leads to Monte Malbe along Via Panoramica which takes you to the top of the hill.

In the evening you can have local dishes for dinner in one of the many restaurants in the area: or around the Malbe hills (Cucinaccia stand outs among the others, towards Mantignana) or, if you prefer to return to the village, at the Convent, an old Franciscan residence which offers good food in a wonderful atmosphere.

On the bicycle, off we go!
Departure is from the parking lot below the walls of Corciano and the beginning of the excursion is downhill. Great and relaxing. After the descent we encounter on one side the peaceful village of Migiana, surrounded by vineyards from which much of the excellent production of DOC Colli del Trasimeno originates. On the other side there is Pieve del Vescovo, an imposing 14th-century castle, turreted and charming, recently restored that is at least worth a look. To visit it, however, more time and an appointment is necessary (tel. 075 5058611, e-mail info@scuolaedile.perugia.it).
Continuing our ride, we reach Mantignana and then proceed through the fields, in a wonderful atmosphere featuring warm autumnal colours which becomes calmer and more charming when the secondary road transforms into a dirt road that leads to the countryside marked by crops, olive trees, serene views and smell of the soil. The road initially goes up a little, allowing us to reach a height from which the view below can be enjoyed: this includes 13 acres of park of the most famous of Umbrian villas, Villa del Colle del Cardinale that overlooks the narrow valley of the river Caina. The villa is open to the public and a visit can be very interesting both for the interior which is beautifully decorated and frescoed in Renaissance style and for the gardens arranged in four levels of terraces: a roof garden that surrounds the country house and one terraced on three levels on the south-western side. Visits need to be booked in advance (IAT - Tel. 075 5736458 ; info@iat.perugia.it).

Returning to Corciano
We continue along the route and complete a circle that brings us back to Crociano. This is the last part of our excursion. It is a bit more difficult because you have to go up the hill that leads back to the village. But the ride was beautiful and worth the effort. It is nice to come back to the streets of the town we got to know the day before, but it already feels almost like home and before leaving and resuming our work week, we can still treat ourselves to dinner here, maybe try some local specialities like carp, tench, perch or eel from Trasimeno that is in season right between late summer and autumn, cooked on the "Canine" (cane) that adorn long stretches of the lake.
Or a classic "tegamaccio", a kind of fish stew prepared with all types of fish from the lake.

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