Ask even the most worldly Italian where's the best place to eat in his home town and he will unhesitatingly respond: "At my Mother's table." That's because in a culture where food is an important and creative part of life, he has been shamelessly spoiled since birth by his own personal culinary maestra, an artist who fashioned honest raw materials into masterpieces for her family, day after day, meal after meal. Combine the skills honed from a lifetime of preparing good things to eat with a ferocious insistence on high-quality, in-season ingredients and an extraordinary generosity of spirit and you have simple, down-home Italian cooking and eating as near perfect as it gets. This is why, quite frankly, in my next life I'm coming back as an Italian male.
At Villa Gioianna, you will be just as pampered with the lovingly prepared food of an Italian mama, in this case our favorite nonna. Because all the best pleasures in life are earned, pick olives or traipse around the countryside all day and come home hungry and pleasantly tired to the warm hospitality of a crackling fire, a glass of red wine and a house filled with the intoxicating smells of roasting meat and bubbling sauces. Then join your fellow travelers at the table and tuck into big platters of really good food and carafes brimming with a fine, Umbrian wine. A meal like that makes you realize just how nice life can be.
The next morning, awaken to birdsong and fortify yourself for another day of harvesting with fig jam spread on a flaking cornetto or a slice of our locally famous torcolo (coffeecake). More robust morning diners might want to treat themselves to an omelette made with yolk-rich eggs laid just hours before, perhaps enclosing a filling of tartufo or sauteed wild mushrooms.
Will you eat well? In response, I quote an elderly Italian gentleman who, after doing justice to an impressive plate of pasta and a respectable portion of grilled rabbit and rosemary roasted potatoes, reached for his second helping of dolce, then winked at me and said: "It's a sad man who can't give into his weaknesses and she's just the woman to put temptation in my path." Need I say more?