The only region of Italy that doesn’t border another country or the sea is Umbria – dubbed the green heart of Italy. It’s a picturesque region of dense forests, rolling hills, sweeping olive groves and vineyards, and countless medieval hill towns. One of these hill towns is Bevagna.
Situated in the fertile valley region that skits the Sibillini mountain range, Bevagna is encircled by medieval stone walls (complete with arched gates and towers) said to be identical to the original circuit of unbaked brick walls built by the Romans – who were in turn preceded by the Etruscans. Fabulous layers of ancient history.
In recent years, Bevagna has revived traditional artisans trades with its annual medieval festival, Il Mercato delle Gaite. The festival takes place towards the end of June, and is one of the most authentic – complete with dirt-covered avenues, no electricity and artisans reenacting medieval trades from glass blowing to paper making to silk production.
The not-to-be-missed La Cartiere, paper mill, can be toured throughout the year, and is a fascinating journey back in time. Complete with mastro cartaro Francesco Proietti’s impressive and fully functioning re-creation of a Fabriano paper mill, the jaw-dropping process of making 13th century paper unfolds, step by amazing step. Fascinating!
Of course wandering is one of the best things to do in a town like Bevagna. Medieval churches beckon, and winding, cobbled avenues are simple irresistible – some leading up, some leading down and many leading to stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Plus the area around Bevagna, in this central part of Umbria, is simply spectacular, with meandering, country roads lead from village to hamlet to castle to convent – boasting an endless panorama of breathtaking scenery.
But of course a visit to any Umbrian medieval hill town just isn’t complete without a meal of local specialties. In Bevagna you’ll find dishes like gnocchi with sausage, stewed wild boar or (one of my personal favorites) baked pecorino with shaved black truffles. Add a glass of the local rosso di Montefalco and it’s a little slice of heaven. In bella Bevagna.