Another Umbrian Valley
For centuries, part of today’s province of Rieti was under the control of the Lombard Duchy of Spoleto (now a town in Umbria) and later, until 1923, it was part of Umbria itself. As a result, there have been decades of exchanges among the people of these lands, who have never stopped influencing one another’s customs and traditions.
The person who has left a mark on this area more than any other is obviously St. Francis of Assisi, another Umbrian town. At the beginning of the 13th century he arrived - partly on foot among woods and hamlets, partly by boat through lakes and rivers - to Labro’s hills and castles, to the slopes of Mount Terminillo and Rieti’s Mountains, going south to reach the town itself.
The history of this area has been forever shaped by him, and four sanctuaries have been built in the villages where he performed miracles are wrote the foundation of his Order. Greccio, Poggio Bustone, La Foresta, Fontecolombo: these are the names of these sacred places, immersed in silence and mysticism, nature and history.
But the cultural exchanges between Latium and Umbria do not stop at the shared franciscan faith. They are also linked to the regions’ similar geography, made up of green pastures and abundant waters, and to the wine-and-food tradition connected to it.
These lands are not lacking in sheep and cattle of prized breeds, like the Chianina in Rivodutri, whereas the experience and skill of Leonessa’s men and women bring to our tables the most delicious pig and boar charcuterie.
And do not forget to try all kinds of cheese, either sheep- or cow-milk ones, and the porchetta of Poggio Bustone or Morro Reatino, which stands out among all the local meat-based recipes.
Moreover, this land is rich in mushrooms and truffles, which can be gathered in Colli sul Velino. But the area also offers many other delicacies: from Leonessa’s spelt and potatoes to extra virgin olive oil, from the wine of Cantina Campigliano near Rivodutri - definitely to taste - to the wheat processed at the Santa Susanna Watermill.
As a consequence, several are the first courses worth trying in the area: Leonessa’s truffle-flavoured gnocchi, Contigliano’s ‘pizzicotti’, Cantalice’s ‘strengozzi’, Cittaducale’s ‘sagne alla Molinara’, Montenero Sabino’s ‘maccheroni a fezze’, Monte San Giovanni’s ‘fregnacce alla Sabinese’, as well as the ‘pappardelle alla Garibaldina’ from Maria’s Restaurant in Morro Reatino.
A truly mouth-watering province.