If you’re looking for a gourmet holiday in Umbria, you’ve come to the right place. This guide to the best gourmet escapes in Umbria includes restaurants and hotels in Umbria for every budget, ranging from fine dining to the rustic flavours of the Umbrian countryside.
So read on for the best restaurants and hotels in Umbria, from Lake Trasimeno to the hills above Todi and Perugia, plus the best of historic towns such as Orvieto and Gubbio. In this link, meanwhile, find my full review of 5″ Umbrian spa hotel Borgo La Chiaracia.
Hosteria Il Grottino, Gualdo Cattaneo, between Perugia and Terni
Hosteria Il Grottino is a charming restaurant in the picture-perfect hamlet of Gualdo Cattaneo. Yet at usual, there’s more to this place and its bucolic surroundings than meets the eye.
Not so many years ago, Gualdo Cattaneo was just another dying village in the hills above Perugia, a victim of the trend for young folk to move away as the older generations passed on. Yet the founders of Hosteria Il Grottino – and many neighbouring businesses – saw a unique chance to revitalise the tiny town and create a wildly beautiful Umbrian destination for gourmet stays. So it is that Hosteria Il Grottino not only takes pride of place in a leafy piazza which has been lovingly restored by locals, it also offers a few cosy bed and breakfast rooms, plus a gourmet village store full of local produce, ideal for small gifts. Furthermore, if you stay at the restaurant’s cute lodgings, the incredibly helpful owners will help you coordinate everything for your weekend stay, from horse rides in the woodlands, to guiding treks.
All this aside, Hosteria Il Grottino is also an ideal destination if you are simply looking for a fine lunch spot while driving through the Umbrian countryside. Located between Perugia and Terni, and at an easy distance from Orvieto by car, Hosteria Il Grottino offers a menu rich in local traditions with a few modern twists.
Highlights of my lunch included a savoury meringue with egg yolk and black truffle; chicken liver pate with ricotta, porcini-mushroom-filled fresh pasta, and homemade spelt and and hemp pasta. Second courses included stuffed pigeon and braised beef short ribs. As you can imagine, the local red wines and after dinner spirits are out of this world – highly recommended!
Hosteria & Residence Il Grottino, Piazza Beato Ugolino 5, Gualdo Cattaneo Tel 344 264 8124
I Capricci di Merion Resort + Spa near Perugia
I Capricci di Merion is an elegant resort + spa a stone’s throw from Lake Trasimeno in the heart of Umbria. It is in a peaceful position surrounded by fields in western Umbria, close to the border with Tuscany, and boasts a fantastic swimming pool. While the nearest large town is Perugia, I Capricci di Merion Resort + Spa has a lovely, rustic air while remaining elegant at the same time. The ideal way to reach I Capricci di Merion is by car, but direct trains also run from Rome to the nearby Tuscan town of Terontola Cortona, giving you a public transport option too. If you want to find out more about train and taxi transfers, check out this post.
With 10 suites, a spa, restaurant, outdoor swimming pool + indoor pool currently under construction, I Capricci di Merion represents one of the most perfect leisure + gourmet escapes in Umbria. It is open all year round, offering different seasonal experiences throughout the year – from boat trips on the lake to local wine experiences.
The sea-water pool offers hilltop views down to Lake Trasimeno and is only open to hotel guests. Meanwhile, the spa can be booked out privately for hotel guests in small groups – maximum four people – allowing you to fully enjoy the emotional showers, sauna and hot tub.
At I Capricci di Merion, the menu explore both local Umbrian ingredients – foraged and caught – as well as straying to the sea for some sapid, marine notes. Open to both external guests and hotel guests, it’s essential to book ahead for dinner or lunch, as they are currently limiting the evening service to just 25 covers – in order to ensure impeccable service.
Some of the highlights of lunch included a caprese salad combining basil gelatine and sun-blush tomatoes, as well as a wonderful, colourful dish of yellowtail sashimi, gazpacho with watermelon, mint, red pepper and tabasco. For lunch we also tried tortelli filled with mussels and potatoes, cold Parmesan cream and salmon eggs. Delicious!
The main dish at lunch was a photogenic plate of octopus, taleggio, mango and almond foam. Lunch concluded with a signature semifreddo, combining basil, white chocolate and gold leaf.
In the evening, we sampled the eight course tasting menu and weren’t disappointed. Highlights include flambeed scampi with liquid scarola; raw amberjack with raspberries grown on the estate; river eel combined with lentils and passion fruit. Local flavours took top billing once again with a take on carbonara, combined with tench, guanciale and licorice.
You’ll also be impressed with the value for money in the food, as tasting menus start at €40 per head.
The keen prices continue within the hotel, with rooms beginning at around €130 per night. All in all, this is a blissful, bucolic escape, which I highly recommend to anyone looking to explore the beauty of Umbria.
I Capricci di Merion Resort + Spa, Via del Pozzo, 21, 06069, Tuoro Sul Trasimeno, Perugia
Borgo Petroro Relais + Restaurant near Todi
Borgo Petroro Relais, Spa and Restaurant is a picturesque diffused hotel occupying a tiny medieval hamlet in the hills above Todi in Umbria. Combining the former Petroro Castle, its ancillary cottages and old agricultural structures, all the buildings have been lovingly restored and harmonised to create an incredible leisure and gourmet escape in Umbria.
Borgo Petroro Relais + Restaurant offers a selection of suites with private spas, plus well-appointed rooms served by an external spa for a dreamy wellness experience. The suites are enriched with the history of the ancient borgo, featuring antique art and furnishings.
If you are specifically looking for gourmet escapes in Umbria, Borgo Petroro has you covered. The fine dining restaurant, Locanda Petreja, a project by renowned German chef Oliver Glowig, is open to external guests as well as hotel guests, and offers extremely affordable gourmet cuisine. Inspired by Umbrian traditions, expect to find local lentils, game birds, and freshwater fish, as well as the kind of dynamic dishes with which Glowig has become associated.
I recently had lunch at Borgo Petroro and wasn’t disappointed. The meal opened with marinated trout, served with farro salad and a green bean jus. This was followed with parmesan and parsley risotto, served with a surprise egg yolk and shavings of black truffle.
Lunch continued with another vibrant fish dish, featuring baccala combined with pork lard, vegetables and a red pepper sauce. The main course combined pigeon breast with foie gras and roast onion. Divine!
We left room for dessert, which entailed Glowig’s take on the Bacio Perugina – a milk chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo dish concealing a creamy heart.
All in all, this a consummately executed menu at an impressive price. The 5-course tasting menu is priced at €75 without wine, while a 7-course version costs €95. One of my favourite gourmet escapes in Umbria, whether you are staying at the hotel or planning a country lunch from Rome. Highly recommended!
Borgo Petroro Relais + Restaurant, Vocabolo Castello, Località Petroro 06059 Todi, Umbria, Italy
Gourmet escapes in Umbria: Al Mercato Osteria, Orvieto
Orvieto, the town in Umbria just an hour away from Rome on the train or by car, is famous for its rich food heritage. From restaurants celebrating Orvieto’s Etruscan past, to hearty local osterias, Orvieto should definitely be on your list if you’re looking for gourmet escapes in Umbria.
There is a good range of restaurants here, but one you absolutely have to try is Al Mercato, opposite the cathedral or duomo of Orvieto, in an extremely central position. Enjoying both indoor tables and a wonderful range of outdoor tables in the piazza, Al Mercato is a project of experienced restaurant owner Luca Puzzuoli. The current chef is Neapolitan Mario Romano who has thrown himself into the Umbrian traditions, while also bringing lots of lovely seafood flavours from Campania to the menu.
On my recent visit to Al Mercato, Luca invited us to try a range of dishes from the menu. We started with an extremely tasty seafood panzanella, riff on the traditional poor dish which combines dampened stale bread, tomatoes, cucumber, basil and onion. This panzanella was enriched with fresh prawns, squid rings and other fried seafood delicacies for an posh take on a traditional Central Italy dish. Absolutely delicious.
Other antipasti including smoked salmon with lime and pink peppercorns, plus crusty bruschette topped with silky red and yellow peppers, grilled eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini.
After this, we tried a couple of first course dishes. Luca suggested we taste a wonderful plate combining spaghetti, lemon and almonds with juicy scampi. This was brilliantly executed and another tasty dish. After this, we also tried a tasting portion of Mario’s carbonara. Made from a local pasta, umbrichelli, (the same flour and water pasta known as pici in Toscana), this was combined with meaty chunks of guanciale or pig cheek and seasoned with beaten egg and pecorino cheese. It was another triumph. We closed with a platter of fruit which rounded off the whole experience perfectly.
So, when you’re next in Orvieto, do yourself a favour and head to Luca’s place!
Al Mercato Osteria, Via Duomo 25, Orvieto, Umbria
Gourmet escapes in Umbria: Gubbio Food Experience
Gubbio Food Experience is a restaurant collective in the historic Umbrian town of Gubbio which organises itinerant dinners round the town in spectacular piazzas. Often arranged to coincide with local summer, autumn and winter truffle festivals, it’s a great way to try the local cuisine of Gubbio in a festival setting.
Follow Gubbio Food Experience on Instagram for their latest initiatives or shoot them a message on Facebook to find out when the next dinner or food festival is planned!