Here is a gastronomic guide to discover what to eat in Gubbio, the characteristic Umbrian village immersed in nature and rich in local specialities, history and culture. Don’t miss it!
Situated in the province of Perugia, in the north-eastern part of Umbria, Gubbio is a historic Italian municipality that lies in the hills of the nearby Apennines. The foundation of this ancient village dates back to Roman times, and over the years, it has been the scene of numerous historical events. In addition to being a well-known religious and tourist destination, Gubbio is also popular for its wine and food tourism, due to the numerous dishes and typical products of traditional Umbrian cuisine.
The cuisine, just like the city, has very ancient origins, and has been influenced by the various peoples (such as Romans, Longobards and the Papal State) and cultures that have succeeded one another over the years. These, by integrating their culinary customs, have created a long and varied gastronomic tradition.
The cuisine of Gubbio is characterised by strong but tasty flavours reminiscent of the woods and countryside surrounding the town. It is based on simple and genuine ingredients, such as olive oil, meat from pastures, game, vegetables, mushrooms and truffles, typical of the local countryside. Some of these products are also much appreciated by visitors as souvenirs to take home, most of all olive oil, truffles and sausages.
Let us not forget that Gubbio and the surrounding area are also famous for their mineral waters: Umbria is in fact rich in springs from which quality waters flow. These waters are sold in supermarkets all over Italy. Lastly, to reassure wine-loving readers, Gubbio also offers a wide variety of refined and high-quality wines, especially red and dessert wines, which pairs perfectly with the typical dishes of Umbrian cuisine.
If you are curious to find out what to eat in Gubbio, follow me in this guide, in which I will describe the most famous recipes that you can taste in this beautiful Umbrian village, surrounded by woods and hills, where history is intertwined with legend.
The most famous dishes to eat in Gubbio
From more complex recipes to street food, such as crostini and crescia, here is a list of the most renowned typical dishes of Gubbio’s gastronomic tradition.
1. Crescia al panaro
Known as “crescia” in the Gubbio area, is also known as torta al testo in other parts of Umbria. This speciality is an ancient bread typical of the region, whose appearance resembles that of a piadina; Gubbio’s crescia al panaro is often confused with Marche’s crescia al formaggio (a cheesy bread) or crescia sfogliata (layered crescia), but it is important to remember that these are very different products.
This delicacy has very humble origins: it was, in fact, eaten by farmers during their days in the fields as an alternative to bread, which at the time was considered almost a luxury good. The crescia is a very simple and cheap food to make. Originally, the ingredients used were water, salt and flour, and the dough was cooked on a metal disc with three feet red-hot in the fireplace (the “panaro”). In today’s recipes, yeast or bicarbonate of soda is often added to the dough to give the final product a fluffier texture, and it is baked on cast-iron plates or non-stick pans.
The “crescia al panaro” is therefore a simple and light, but substantial food. Today, it is served with cheese, sliced meats or cooked vegetables. It is excellent to accompany aperitifs, as a street-snack during a walk, or as a light lunch, especially during torrid summer days.
You are probably already familiar with this typical local dish, but perhaps you did not know that it is also very popular in Gubbio. The peculiarity of the original Gubbio crostino is in the bread from which it is made: the sciapo bread (“Unsalted” bread), typical of Umbria, which gives the crostino its perfect texture and neutrality. Slices of bread are often toasted over the ember and can be seasoned in various ways: olive oil and salt, cherry tomatoes, liver pâté, mushroom and truffle creams, cured meats, or rubbed with garlic or tomatoes.
Crostini are usually eaten as a delicacy during aperitifs or served as an appetiser. Because of their small size and the wide variety of ingredients with which they can be served, we highly recommend them for a tasting experience, paired with a good glass of local wine.
3. Pappardelle or fettuccine with game ragout
Let us now come to the first courses. Among the tastiest first courses we can eat in Gubbio, we certainly find fettuccine and pappardelle, seasoned with game-based sauces. These delicious fresh egg pastas are typical of the area between Umbria and Tuscany; in particular, pappardelle. Those, for who doesn’t not know them, are similar to fettuccine, but vary in width and thickness: precisely these characteristics make them perfect for picking up sauces and ragùs.
This typical dish has peasants’ origins; in fact, game was eaten by the lower classes of the population, who could not afford meat from farms and pastures.
The sauces, with which they are seasoned, can be with or without tomato and are based on local game meat such as wild boar, hare and duck. I highly recommend tasting these pastas, accompanied by a nice glass of local red wine!
4. Strangozzi with truffle
Talking about pasta, it is impossible not to mention strangozzi with truffles. This typical pasta dish from Gubbio is famous throughout the world because of its uniqueness and the rarity of the raw material: truffles. Strangozzi, for those who do not know them, are a type of fresh pasta originating in Umbria. They are also known as stringozzi, strengozzi and umbricelli.
They have a similar shape to fettuccine, but are prepared without the addition of eggs, just water, salt and a mixture of wheat flour and durum wheat semolina. This pasta remains quite tough when cooked and is perfect to be accompanied by some excellent truffle and a knob of butter to make them creamier.
Contrary to popular belief, this dish is not only eaten in autumn. In fact, it can be enjoyed throughout the year. The important thing is always to accompany it with fresh, seasonal truffles, thus avoiding frozen or imported products, which are often not very tasty and anything but cheap.
Friccò is one of the most traditional dishes of Gubbio’s popular cuisine. This typical second course consists of a stew made with meat, tomato sauce and herbs, such as rosemary and sage. The meat used in the original recipe is chicken, but there are more variants made with lamb, rabbit and pork. It is a very tasty and simple dish to make, which is why it is often proposed during village festivals in and around Gubbio.
You can find this dish in all the traditional taverns in Gubbio, usually accompanied by vegetables and mashed potatoes, and of course the ever-present crescia di Gubbio. You can also find it in a street food version, inside a sandwich or a crescia cut in half, to enjoy during a walk in the suggestive Umbrian town.
Based on legumes and cereals from the local countryside, there are two versions of this dish. The summer version, which consists of a cold salad, and the winter version, a soup. There is no real original recipe for this dish; in fact, it was originally prepared by farmers with the cereals and pulses they had available at the time. However, both versions are prepared with the same main ingredients: chickpeas, wild peas, beans, maize, broad beans, wheat, barley and spelt. These are cooked and tossed with herbs, onions, celery and carrots. In some variations of this recipe, potatoes and/or bacon are also present.
You may have already tasted or heard of this second course, but it is worth remembering that Umbrian roasts, and in particular those from the Gubbio area, are very renowned for their goodness and genuineness.
Roasts are prepared from various cuts of different animals, the most common being fillet and rump of beef, and fillet and arista of pork. These meats are seasoned with olive oil, salt, spices and herbs and cooked slowly in a casserole dish. Roasts can be seasoned in a thousand different ways. Among the most commonly used spices and herbs are pepper, juniper, garlic, rosemary, sage and bay leaf. A very tasty roast that we can eat in Gubbio is cooked wrapped in pancetta, which “sweats”, releasing all the flavour to the roast, and forms a crispy crust when cooked.
8. Baccalà alla ceraiola
Baccala alla ceraiola is traditionally prepared for the “Festa dei ceri”, an annual festival celebrated every 15th May, from which the recipe takes its name. It is a very simple and tasty dish with a delicate flavour. It is prepared by desalting the salt cod, which is then coated in a rosemary-flavoured breadcrumbs and baked in the oven until lightly browned, adding a splash of white wine.
Perhaps one of the oldest sweets in the Umbrian gastronomic tradition, Brustengolo is a cake that is made from polenta. The latter is cooked and added to sugar, flour and eggs to form the main dough, which is then topped with honey, apples and dried fruit such as walnuts and pine nuts.
This cake originates from popular tradition and is prepared with simple and genuine ingredients, but is nevertheless very tasty and nutritious. Definitely try it, even at the end of a meal with a glass of sweet local wine such as Vin Santo.
10. Ganascione of the Sisters of Santa Lucia
Another typical Gubbio sweet is the ganascione delle suore di Sanata Lucia, a special homemade biscuit whose shape is reminiscent of a ganascia (a cheek). They are customarily offered to guests, who consume them at the end of the meal accompanied by a glass of barcarola, a typical Gubbio drink made with barley coffee, mistrà (a typical anise liqueur) and a slice of lemon.
This sought-after Umbrian recipe is a typical Easter sweet, and originates from the province of Perugia. This cake was traditionally given by future wives to future husbands as a sign of their love. The ciaramicola takes the form of a doughnut covered with meringue and other sugary decorations such as icing and sugared almonds.
It is a very scenic cake, but at the same time very tasty. The doughnut dough is very special, because it has a reddish colour given by alkermes, the famous crimson-coloured cake liqueur. The original recipe from Perugia also included a portion of dough in the shape of a cross in the “hole” of the ciambellone, to represent the five main districts of the city.
12. Dried Fruit Biscuits
Let us conclude with other sweet delicacies typical of Umbria and the Gubbio area: dried fruit biscuits. Among the most common are pine nut biscuits and almond cantucci. The latter in particular are very famous and widespread in the regions of central Italy. It is customary to eat these sweets at the end of a meal, “pucciando” (dipping) them in the typical Vin Santo: highly recommended!
The wines of Gubbio
Like the entire region, the countryside surrounding the municipality of Gubbio is rich in wines. The tradition of grapevine cultivation in these lands has been going on for several millennia, and today brings a great variety of wines to local tables.
Among the most popular wines are the reds, such as Sangiovese and Merlot, which pairs perfectly with typical meat and game dishes. The municipality of Gubbio also boasts two designations of origin: Colli Altotiberini DOC and Umbria IGT.
Speaking of wines, it is impossible not to mention the renowned Vin Santo, a typical dessert wine from the Umbrian region, with hints of raisins and dried fruit. This wine, very similar to passito, is perfect to accompany local sweets.
Festivals and Fairs
Gubbio and the surrounding towns offer a variety of festivals dedicated to the typical dishes of their gastronomy. At these village festivals, you can savour all the typical specialities I mentioned earlier, and learn about local customs and traditions.
Among the most famous are:
- Festa dei ceri (15 May): a folk festival in honour of St Ubaldo, the town’s patron saint. Here you can try the famous baccalà alla ceraiola, while witnessing the famous procession in which the three ceri (candles) are carried in a race.
- Gubbio National Truffle Market Exhibition (October): Gubbio’s top autumn event. This event brings together numerous exhibitors from all over Italy each year, experts in the truffle sector. Not to be missed for lovers of this particular delicacy.
Now that you know what to eat in Gubbio, all that remains is to wish you a happy trip to Umbria! 😎
Cover photo: pixabay, faustomanasse
Featured photo: pixabay, super silver