Scheggino Enticements

September 17, 2014 / Food & Wine
Scheggino, Umbria

A five-kilometer-long tunnel now links the Valle Umbra Nord (North Umbrian Valley) pastoral landscapes – sweeps of vineyards, silvery olive groves draping hills – to the once-isolated Valnerina where the Nera River snakes through wooded mountain gorges.  Walled medieval fortresses perch on rocky outcrops hanging over the one road winding alongside the Nera, once lookout points for the controlling of any invaders of the Papal States (Umbria, Marches, Abruzzo, Latium). Those feudal fortresses are now the enchanting castle villages of the Valnerina which entice those visitors seeking medieval hill town charm set in dramatic landscapes: Vallo di Nera, Sant’Anatolia di Narco, Monteleone di Spoleto, Borgo Cerretto, Ferentillo – and our favorite, Scheggino. And not just for the beauty.

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Stroll the path under towering poplars, beeches and oaks along the Nera River just below Scheggino perched on a limestone outcrop and you might think that you’re in a national park in North America. You might see children feeding the ducks or fishing – or kayakers paddling down the river.

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In the woods along the Nera – near the arched entrance medieval hill town gem – look left and you’ll see diners at outdoor picnic tables just behind a simple little bungalow.

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Head inside for a feast of Valnerina area goodness cooked by Signora Agnese here at the Ristorante Giardino delle Naiadi. Once a cook at a famous Valnerina restaurant, she was “stolen away” by her own son Alessio to cook in the restaurant he started.

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Don’t miss her guazzetto, a fish chowder, rivaling the best we’ve ever had in our many trips to Sicily. But this is a fresh-water chowder of the Nera River crawfish, pike and trout. And Signora Agnese’s homemade tagliatelle with Nera River crawfish, her homemade gnocchi with lamb ragu’ and hearty legume/spelt soup are other enticements. Trouble deciding? Waiter Tonino is ready to offer advice on the daily specialties.

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And for the desserts? All homemade: la rocciata (the Umbrian strudel), canestrelli (“little baskets”, small tarts filled with homemade jams or rich creams), ricotta cheesecake or a gelato, served with a smile by Elena and Anna, the teen-aged daughters of owner Alessio and his wife, Silvia. Silvia will be at the coffee bar, making your espresso at the end of your meal – or pouring you a shot of grappa. Un digestivo. You might want one after your feast.

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Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

26 Responses to “Scheggino Enticements”

  1. Sandi spector

    Grazie Annie. Well done, as usual! We’ll miss seeing you when we are in Italia in ottobre

    Reply
  2. Ginny Siggia

    Every photo brought back memories of my 2010 sojourn in Scheggino. Magical place. No jets overhead. Cold clear water from the town pump. No “Souvenir of Scheggino” T-shirts. Good walks, whether within the walled portion of the village, or along the countryside. I never got tired of it. Everything was eye-catching to this first-time visitor to Italy (what a way to start!): walls, buildings, flowers, the river, people.
    Families, from toddler to elders, fished in the Nera on Sunday afternoon, and the trout, grilled in butter, was delectable. (I blanched slightly as a man kindly showed me how to bait the line with an eel.)
    Don’t rush through Scheggino; it’s not a two-hour tour. Walk around, savor the delectable food, and then sit back. Enjoy the sunshine in the piazza, and let the stones speak to you.

    Reply
  3. Herb Klinker

    Having gone through that tunnel several years ago, I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland. What a magical place. When we return in December this adventure will be on our list. Thanks for the great post!

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  4. Paulette Carnicelli Pidcock

    Anne – what a delightful article!! I want to go there….it all sounds so soothing and peaceful AND the restaurant – its owners, chef and staff – all very enticing. Isn’t this is the tunnel we traveled in 2013 from Perugia to Castelluccio …another fabulous mountain destination! Love your writing and the pictures….are fabulous! Paulette

    Reply
  5. Anne Robichaud

    Yes, Paulette, that was the tunnel..head right after you exit, and you’re in Scheggino..
    Ginni, the choir group stayed there again this year / sorry to miss you!
    Sandi, put SCHEGGINO on your list for a future Italy trip!

    Reply
  6. Jan Johnson

    Annie, the guazzetto sounds (and looks) a great choice. Thanks again for bringing Scheggino to those of us who couldn’t join you. Looking forward to seeing you in another month or so.

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  7. Michael Marziani

    Tutto Bene Anne! You are a great tour guide and you could not have been more helpful ensuring some of the pottery we bought on our tirp was actually delivered. Thanks for helping make wonderful memories for our family

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  8. J. Kevin Crocker

    Anne I have great memories of that Valley and the trip up to Casteluccio that day. Lovely, article, love reading about these wonderful small villages.

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  9. Louise Montalbano

    What a beautiful area! We loved our visit to the Nera river area last Spring with you and Pino. This article brings to life the reason why we need to return soon. Thanks Anne.

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  10. joan slavin

    this is great. i never knew this little restaurant existed and i have been to this town many times….see, the value of a guide!! thanks, anne!

    Reply
  11. Another great article bringing Italy right into my home until I can make it back for a visit. Always providing new places and new dishes for my return “to do” list. It’s getting so long it may need to be a move rather than a visit! One can dream! :)
    And my dreams sort of come to live in your articles. Thanks Anne!

    Reply
  12. Mary Jo Barbato

    Great article Anne! Wish we could go with you! We’ve so enjoyed every minute with you on this trip!! Looking forward to reading more once home in the states. Your knowledge and passion are intoxicating!! Sorry to miss crawfish in Italy! How unique. Thanks for making us aware of “out of the ordinary” sites and experiences in Umbria!!

    Reply
  13. Anne – great find as always. You know how to get to the heart of Italian life and culture and invite your readers to become a part of la vita italiana. Grazie mille!

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  14. Joe Studlick

    Another great find by Anne! Certainly gets added to the list for the next Umbrian adventure.

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  15. Marybeth Evans

    Scheggino is a magical place. I absolutely loved my stay there for over a week in September 2010. The photos published really capture the mood of the town. I will never forget sitting by the cool mountain spring in the afternoon and just soaking in the peace and beauty of Scheggino— This is NOT a tourist town. I This is the “real” day to day experience of a midevil Umbrian hill town in Italy. I was there on a singing adventure with the Berkshire Choral Festival and stayed in Scheggino for a week. There is a wonderful mid-evil 12th century church — Anne’s tours of Assissi , Spello and Narni were superb. In fact my two friends and I really want to return to Scheggino and Rome. The fresh trout in the little restaurant beside the mountain stream in Scheggino are the best I’ve ever tasted. They catch them right outside the restaurant. Highly recommend Anne’s tours and Scheggino— Fabulous!!! Chow:-)

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  16. This sounds very interesting Anne. Hope I will a chance to explore Umbria with you sometime in the future. Although I have not met you in person, but with what you helped me for my days in Assisi, it was awesome and it made my first trip to Europe memorable! Thank you and thank you for being there to help and to bring the information about Umbria to everybody. Cheers!

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  17. Mary Cappiello

    Another wonderful place to explore with Anne! You make us all just itching to take off and be there with you and Pino as you make your next wonderful discovery to share with us.

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  18. kathy viola

    We just returned from a fabulous tour of Assisi with Anne Roubichaud. She made the city come to life. We relived medieval times with her. She is such a historical treasure who endearingly greets the locals. Anne was also extremely helpful with practical money matters, fax machines and ATMs. We are looking forward to our next trip with Anne as our tour guide.

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  19. Totally want to come for this!! Thanks for sharing this unique find…. never would have know about it!

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  20. marianna raccuglia

    Love it when you take your fans to new places. Your photos are such a treat!
    Thank you, dear Anne

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  21. Sandro Perugini

    Can’t wait to go back and visit scheggino and caso were my dad and grand perants are from it been a will since I’ve been there
    Love to meet you Anne
    Great work
    Reg Sandro perugini

    Reply

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