An Umbrian gastronomic feast
Let us set the scene. It’s a soft summer evening in August 2011, and our group of ten - eight Australians and two locals - is gathered expectantly around a long wooden table under a covered pergola.
We're at Livia’s family-run restaurant, hidden in the hills behind Assisi. Livia's serves piatti tipici umbri - typical Umbrian fare. Although there is a menu (we discovered on another visit), we’re expected to eat what Livia has made that day which depends on what is in season.
The choice of wine is house red or white and several bottles are placed on the table. Two young people bring out platters of cold meats, buffalo mozzarella and bruschetta which we devour with gusto.
Before long, Livia herself emerges with a huge bowl of homemade tortellini which she serves liberally into bowls before each of us. These are cleared away and more homemade pasta arrives with truffles and cream. (We are offered second helpings of the pastas. We wisely decline.)
Next comes the wood fired meats: sausages, lamb chops and veal chops, with plenty for seconds. By now we are really full, but then out comes a spelt salad along with tomatoes tossed in olive oil.
As soon as fresh plates are supplied, bowls of zuppa inglese (trifle) appear and - in case we hadn’t had enough to eat - creamy pannacotta with forest berries is next.
Some of us make room for an espresso and homemade limoncello or a surprisingly good bayleaf liqueur before waddling, rather uncomfortable but happy, to our cars.
Being part of a booking with our local friends, we weren’t charged tourist prices. All ten courses cost us the massive sum of 25 euro per person, including wine and coffee. 😊
Livia’s is one of those restaurants only locals know about. A small sign points down a ‘white road’ (unmade) and the track winds past woods and the back door of a couple of houses before arriving at a modest two story stone house at the end of the road. Livia's restaurant occupies the ground floor and has a charming rustic atmosphere with open fire and kitchen, and on fine evenings it is very pleasant to sit outside.
We've feasted at Livia's a number of times now. She's not always open (it depends on the evening and time of year) but it is always a celebration of the best of Italian food: simple, seasonal, delicious and made with love.