Restaurant Review: Lo Sberleffo

R E S T A U R A N T     R E V I E W S

SR = Strongly Recommend 
HR = Highly Recommend 
LE = Look Elsewhere 

L O   S B E R L E F F O

Localita ' Laghi Di Faldo Montone snc
6019 Umbertide (PG)
Marco's cellular: 340 2450891
Restaurant Tel: 075 9411316
Facebook Page
GPS & Map: 43.318059,12.305031

Lo Sberleffo is a little difficult to find if it is your first time going to the restaurant. We have posted a map in a link above along with the GPS coordinates if you have a GPS to help you navigate. We found that the best way to get to Lo Sberleffo is if you drive around the Collegiata in the center of Old Umbertide and go down the street named V.V. Veneto which turns into the street named Via Cavour. Once on Via Cavour, you will see a sign for "Lo Sberleffo" on your left. Take the left and go straight. The road will fork but you will keep to the right. Keep your eyes open for directions to Lo Sberleffo which will take you through several turns before reaching Lo Sberleffo.

Once you arrive at Lo Sberleffo you will see several large parking lots with several large buildings in front of a lake reserve. A very nice playground for kids is on your left just before you enter the restaurant and it is possible to rent rods to fish at the lake. The grounds are very nicely kept and the parking lot fills up quickly.

Our son loved the playground slide

We had heard from friends that Lo Sberleffo offered diners a unique experience. Unique? This piqued our interest and we made it a point to find time to eat at Lo Sberleffo. 

When we walked into the restaurant we noticed that the dining area is separate from the entrance area which is more for bar type eating - cappuccini,cafe, expresso, pannini, etc. The dining room we were taken too was sheltered but the sides of the vast room were open to the elements which allowed the cool breeze to flow through. The room has tall ceilings with posters and ribbons hanging from corner to corner giving the room a very festive feel. We noted that this restaurant had a different feel to it and the atmosphere was not like a typical restaurant in and around Umbertide. The atmosphere was electric and yet very warm and inviting at the same time. The vast majority of diners that evening seemed to be comprised of locals as many of the diners interacted with the waiters and waitresses as though they knew them or were regulars.

Enjoying the festive atmosphere

Decorated ceilings

When we sat down we were attended to pretty quickly. The service was very efficient and our drinks came out right away. We ordered pizza as it seemed that most of the diners were eating pizza. The pizzas were delicious and we were very happy with the quality of our meal.

So what made Lo Sberleffo so unique? Marco, the owner who doubled as a waiter, is exceptionally charming. His booming voice and exaggerated gesticulations can be heard and seen from all corners of the dinning room. When he came over to our table, however, his tone was very pleasant and he seemed genuinely interested in learning who we were and where we were from. At one point in the evening, Marco came over to show us a large tray of porcini mushrooms that were to be used in the dishes for the next day. It was very clear to us that Marco, a native of Umbertide, had perfected the skill of working the room. His infectious personality amplified the already festive feel of our dinning experience.

Cariacature of Marco

Marco in action

We had a terrific experience dining at Lo Sberleffo and would strongly recommend [SR] visiting Lo Sberleffo for lunch or dinner. The quality of the food is excellent and fresh. Meeting the owner, Marco, will give you a unique and memorable dining experience. We will certainly eat at this restaurant again in future visits to the Umbertide area.

If you liked reading our review of this restaurant (or any that we review) and you intend on going to eat at the restaurant please do mention to the restaurant management that you read our review. Additionally, we encourage all our readers, family and friends to submit their own reviews of their restaurant experiences either directly to us, through the submission link above or in the comments section below each review. Thanks!

Destination: Pienza

C O M U N E   D I   P I E N Z A

Formerly known as Corsignano, Pienza is a comune in the province of Siene, in Central Italy, located between the towns of Montepulciano and Montelcino. Pope Pius II (Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini), born in Corsignano, returned to rebuild the town as an ideal Renaissance town and applied humanist urban planning concepts to its design which later influenced the design of other Italian and European cities.

Getting to Pienza is fairly easy if driving by car. If you are traveling from the north, take the A1 Highway (Firenze-Roma), exit Valdichiana/Bettolle. Then follow indications to Torrita di Siena and then Pienza. If you are traveling from the south, take the A1 Highway (Roma-Firenze), exit Chiusi/Chianciano Terme. Take National Road SS 146 to Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano, Pienza.  From Siena, there are buses, not very often, to Pienza. Go to Train-Spa for bus schedules and one can also look HERE (then scroll down to bus number 112 'Siena FS' is the route that includes Pienza) for the Pienza bus line/route. Always make sure that the bus route is up to date and running on the day you wish to leave. Keep in mind that bus routes sometimes cease to run if there are national strikes, holidays or inclimate weather.

Map of Pienza (click picture to enlarge)

We were very excited  to visit Pienza as we had heard from both friends and family that it was a very beautiful Tuscan town. So we packed our two boys into the car and headed out to check it out for ourselves. When we arrived, we parked just outside of the town in a parking lot 5 minutes walking distance from the town center. 

The main attractions worth visiting in Pienza include the following:
  • Palazzo Piccolomini - One of four buildings that create a piazza designed very much like Piazza Ruccelai (trapezoidal) in Florence opens up to spectacular views of Central Tuscany.
  • The Duomo - The Cathedral in Pienza has German architectural design influences as Pope Pius II spent time in Germany and loved how German design allowed for more light.
  • Palazzao Vescoville - A building built to house the Bishops visiting Pienza to attend to the Pope.
  • Palazzo Comunale - Another building in the main piazza that is very beautiful and was intended as a symbol for humanist urban planning.
  • Piccolomini Gardens - Very beautiful and well taken care of gardens with breathtaking views of Central Italy.

The first thing that we noticed upon entering the town was the beautiful archway entrance which opened up into a very nice small piazza with restaurants and shops. Just to the right of the archway entrance is a public toilette which is very convenient for visitors just arriving after a long drive.

The second thing about Pienza that we noticed were the narrow streets leading away from the piazza that presented breathtaking views of the Tuscan hills below. We had the instant urge to explore the narrow corridors to see what amazing views they might open out to.


As we made our way back to the piazza we continued down the main avenue which was bustling with visitors going in and out of the various shops lining both sides of the avenue. The shopfronts are elegantly designed and it is possible to find many specialty shops that sell aged balsamic vinegars, truffles, oils and, ofcourse, wines. We were particular to a cheese shop (humongous slice of pepper flake cheese on a roll) and the pinnochio shop where we purchased 10 whistles for our relatives back home.

We were taken by the beauty of the town and at how wonderfully maintained every street was. The streets were clean. The restaurants were full and there was just a real pleasantness about the town that made us just want to grab a gelato, sit and people watch for a bit. 

We also loved the architecture of the town and the attention to detail on the doorways, the windows and the street names.The variety of flowers outside of people's windows and in front of their homes was a pleasure to see as well. 


All in all, Pienza lived up to our expectations. Pienza is a beautiful place to go for a day or half-day trip and we would highly recommend anyone looking for a beautiful Tuscan town to visit Pienza.

To view more pictures of our trip to Pienza click HERE

Giotto and the Arena Chapel: Art, Architecture and Experience


Every so often we will take the time and opportunity to highlight books and artwork that are especially interesting to us and that we believe will be of great interest to our readers.

In this post, we will be highlighting a ground-breaking art history book entitled Giotto and the Arena Chapel: Art, Architecture and Experience by Laura Jacobus.

Giotto di Bondone (or more widely known as "Giotto") was an Italian painter and architect from Florence during the late Middle Ages. He is best known for his exquisite fresco paintings that adorn the walls in the Arena Chapel in Padua and the walls in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. He is generally considered the first in a line of great artists who contribute to the Italian Renaissance. 

Giotto and the Arena Chapel: Art, Architecture and Experience is divided into two parts, the first presenting new evidence and reconstructions of the Arena Chapel's design and early history; the second offering new interpretations of Giotto's frescoes. (Publisher comments)

The author, Laura Jacobus, discusses a wide range of topics related to the Arena Chapel including the origin and history of the Chapel itself, the iconography of the interior design and a biography of its patron, Enrico Scrovegni. The book also discusses in great detail Giotto's frescoes, and the subjects and the iconography used throughout them. The author offers new perspectives and interpretations on many of these topics and uses all original sources, some of which are newly discovered, unpublished or previously published in inaccessible editions.

This book is a must-read for Giotto fans and all art-history buffs and can be purchases here.


Restaurant Review: Locanda Appennino

R E S T A U R A N T     R E V I E W S

SR = Strongly Recommend 
HR = Highly Recommend 
LE = Look Elsewhere

L O C A N D A   A P P E N N I N O
Via L. Grilli 19/21, 06019 Umbertide
Tel: 075 3536585

We have been visiting Umbertide for many years now but have not eaten at Locanda Appennino until this past year. We read many glowing reviews about Appennino's on TripAdvisor and wanted to check the restaurant out for ourselves. Appennino's is located just off the main square in Old Umbertide and is easy to get to. Reservations are suggested especially on a Friday or Saturday evening.

We stopped by Appennino's a couple days in advance to make reservations and noticed how elegant the decor was. Inside the main room is a tastefully designed space with plenty of dining tables. In the back area there is a terrace overlooking the Tiber river that is lined with beautiful flower pots and slightly overgrown vines. The back terrace is where one should request to dine as it is truly elegant and the atmosphere is warm and inviting.

Inside dining area
Terrace dinning area

When we arrived at the restaurant we were warmly greeted by the waitress and seated in the back terrace area (to our delight). We were the first customers which gave us a good chance to look around and get a better feel of the restaurant. Our first impression of the restaurant was a good one. We loved the setting and the atmosphere. Dining in the terrace part of the restaurant really felt like we were in a very elegant setting. 

Trying to decide what to order

A recent review (read review HERE) on TripAdvisor mentioned that the service did not meet expectations. Indeed, it is important to point out that some of our family friends who ate at Appennino's recently conveyed to us that the waitress was a bit "surly". In our experience, however, we did not find any issues with our service or our waitress. While not as social as the waiters at Lo Sberleffo, Poggiomanente or Calagrana, the waitress was both pleasant and efficient. She seemed genuinely happy to interact with our two children which was nice to see. 

The food we ordered was very good and it was evident that the ingredients used were both fresh and flavorful. The presentation was beautiful and it was apparent that care went into making and preparing every single dish. We started out the meal with a breaded salad which was nice and refreshing. Because our son loves cheeses we decided to get the selection of aged fresh cheeses with their own preserves which was exquisite. We ordered the Ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and bacon which was a tasty combination.We also ordered tender slices of grilled chianina beef which came with a side of fries. This was cooked just right so as not to dampen the flavor of the chianina beef and the fries complimented the dish nicely. Lastly, we ordered a fish dish and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the fillet of turbo w/ porcini mushrooms on a bed of puree of fresh peas was fresh and delicious.

Selection of aged fresh cheeses with their own preserves
Ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and bacon
Our son's standard pasta with butter & parmesan

We would not hesitate to eat at Locanda Appennino again. We enjoyed the setting and atmosphere. The food was tasty and the service was pleasant. If you are staying in or passing through Umbertide then we would strongly recommend [SR] eating at Locanda Appennino.

To view more of our pictures from Locanda Appennino click HERE

If you liked reading our review of this restaurant (or any that we review) and you intend on going to eat at the restaurant please do mention to the restaurant management that you read our review. Additionally, we encourage all our readers, family and friends to submit their own reviews of their restaurant experiences either directly to us, through the submission link above or in the comments section below each review. Thanks!

Restaurant Review: Poggiomanente

R E S T A U R A N T     R E V I E W S

SR = Strongly Recommend 
HR = Highly Recommend 
LE = Look Elsewhere


Uscita E-45 Umbertide/Gubbio
06019 Umbertide (PG)
Tel: 075-941-3085

"The Poggiomanente Restaurant is one of the most appreciated in the area and a point of reference for the lovers of quality cuisine. It offers a rich menu including some of the best dishes of Umbrian tradition: sapori di bosco,crescia with prosciutto ham,tagliatelle with goose sauce, Etruscan pennette,gnocchetti with truffle,roast duck,pork shank with fennel, fillet steak with Rubesco wine and radicchio salad. The building rises in the cellar of a XVI century farmhouse,an ancient mail station,and it offers an atmosphere which is at the same time rural and refined." (Poggiomanente Website)

Poggiomanente is a hidden gem located just off the Umbertide/Gubbio exit along the E-45 (for directions click HERE). A favorite with the locals, Poggiomanente offers diners several dining areas from which to choose from including one dining room that is located in a fully renovated 16th century farmhouse cellar. There is ample parking below and several parking spaces in front of the restaurant.

We first read about Poggiomanente on TripAdvisor which gave the restaurant good reviews and mentioned that the restaurant was a favorite with the locals. The bit about being a "favorite with the locals" piqued our interest. We immediately wanted to check it out for ourselves so we made it a point to book our first dinner in Umbertide at Poggiomanente. Making reservations via email was a breeze. We received a quick response back from management confirming our reservations for 7pm.

Getting to Poggiomanente was not difficult at all. If you are coming from Umbertide you need to follow directions to the E-45 to Perugia. Drive past the entrance leading to the E45 and shortly after you will see a parking lot belonging to Poggiomanente on the right with a small building (pictured above). The restaurant is just up the a small hill which is easily walkable.

Heading up to the restaurant from the parking lot below

We arrived at 7pm and were greeted by a very nice waitress named Malina. A quick walk around the restaurant revealed a very warm and inviting setting with a typical Umbrian decor. On the wall were pictures posted of guests of the restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised to see pictures of Ralph Fiennes and Monica Bellucci who apparently were "regulars".

Pictures posted of famous guests of the restaurant

We were the first dinner guests to arrive that evening and were allowed to pick our table. We picked a table in one of the bigger rooms and passed on the cellar room as it seemed more appropriate for couples. Indeed, as the night moved along more families with young children joined us in the big room.

The room that we dined in

Cellar dining room
The service was friendly and efficient. We asked our waitress to give us the most highly regarded dishes and she recommended the pepper steak with rose salts and steak with truffles. Both dishes did not disappoint. We were very surprised at how tasty both dishes were. However, we were particularly taken by the pepper steak with rose salts as it was incredibly flavorful with just the right amount of spices. The presentation of the pepper steak was also very impressive as it came out sizzling on a hot plate and cooked right before your eyes.This type of presentation was nothing new to us but seeing it done in Umbertide was. The steak with truffles came out nicely and the truffles did not overwhelm the dish as they sometimes can. Our son enjoyed his pizza and lots of dad's steak. During the meal, the owner came around to our table to see how we were enjoying our meal. He was both pleasant and charming.

Assortment of meats antipasta

Pepper steak with rose salts

Another angle of the delicious steak


Steak with truffles
 The truth is, Poggiomanente is a terrific restaurant that serves excellent local cuisine. The staff is efficient and friendly. The owner comes around to every table and strikes up a warm conversation. We strongly recommend [SR] this restaurant to anyone passing through or staying in the area and will definitely be returning to eat here in the future with family and friends.

We give our stamp of approval!

To view more pictures of our visit to Poggiomanente click HERE

If you liked reading our review of this restaurant (or any that we review) and you intend on going to eat at the restaurant please do mention to the restaurant management that you read our review. Additionally, we encourage all our readers, family and friends to submit their own reviews of their restaurant experiences either directly to us, through the submission link above or in the comments section below each review. Thanks!
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