We arrived late and tired to our accommodation up in the hills of Gubbio. We had just driven seven hours from Salzburg, Austria so were suitably grumpy and hungry – hangry, if you will. To make things worse our villa was located, unbeknownst to us, along seven kilometres of loose gravel track, something our heavily loaded Volkswagen Passat was not quite equipped to deal with.
We had no idea we would have such difficulty getting in and out and so hadn’t bought any supplies en-route. So we realised we would have to leave the beautiful villa in search of sustenance. When we eventually made it back down the track to Gubbio it was only to find that the shops were all ‘chiuso’ (closed).
I’m sure you can imagine the low-key levels of hysteria that we were experiencing at this point. Our first-world hunger was intensifying as we also drove past closed Pizzeria after closed Pizzeria.
All I can say is, what on earth did people do before google maps?? In the end, I whipped out my phone and we drove to the first restaurant that we could find, La Locanda del Cantiniere. We parked up as close as possible and had to walk through the old city entrance to where it was located just inside the old stone walls.
I burst in, hungry and flustered, and asked/pleaded in garbled Italian if they were still serving food. To which the lovely waitress smiled and replied ‘of course!’ before showing us through the curtained entrance to the cosy restaurant area.
We ordered a sumptuous, local Montefalco red wine, which the waitress was very knowledgeable about and served attentively.
Ravenous, we went straight in for mains. I had a delicious asparagus tortellini, the others went for the truffle and hare tagliatelle and all were very pleased.
What made the dining experience exceptional, was the complimentary selection of breads. The basket contained a whole host of freshly-baked offerings and included cocoa bread. Which I’d never tried before but was actually remarkably savoury and moreish.
Dessert was the real event, dark chocolate heaven. Which we washed down with some deliciously tart homemade limoncello.
Wine Tip: When you taste wine in a restaurant, you are actually testing the condition of the wine – not the quality. Wine can expire for a variety of reasons, and so it is important to smell the wine first because you really don’t want a mouthful of spoilt wine and it makes you look like you know what you’re doing, which is always a plus. If the wine is off or ‘corked’ you should be able to tell straight away, it will smell musty or a bit like wet cardboard or have turned brownish in colour. Remember! Contrary to popular thought – you can’t send a wine away just because you don’t like the taste!!
We stayed and chatted and finally relaxed after our long drive.
Candles that have burned down to the quick are always a sure sign of good wine and conversation. We left that night happy and full and ready for the rest of the Italian adventure.
It wasn’t until today when I sat to write this, that Trip Advisor informed me that La Locanda del Cantiniere was actually the best restaurant in the city!
Thank god for google maps, eh?
Also, here is an embarrassing tit-bit for anyone who has scrolled down this far. Whilst ordering from the super helpful waitress we had a bit of a language mix-up. But not her near-perfect English, no no it was my awful English that caused the hilarious problem! I tried to order something to which she apologised and told me ‘that is Finnish’ she then pointed out for me all the other items on the menu that were also ‘Finnish’. Which completely baffled me, I replied ‘Well, I’m sure that will be okay, I’ll still have it please’. To which she then told me again, more emphatically, that it was ‘Finnish’. This farce was allowed to go on for way too long before the penny finally dropped and I realised that she was actually telling me that those meals were, of course, ‘finished’ as in out of stock. Which was a relief for me, because my poor tired brain just couldn’t understand why this quaint Italian restaurant was serving Finnish cuisine and why I wasn’t allowed any.