"If you love black truffles, prosciutto, and wine as much as I do, then Norcia is the place for you. I arrived in a chilly evening, and was immediately welcomed by the smell of firewood. It felt as if I was going to spend an evening at a friend's home. Well, a friend with a 16th century palace."
Owned by the Bianconi family, the palace is beautifully restored with a balance of historical charm and tasteful modern accents. It’s elegant, yet homey. On the ground floor are several cozy rooms with large fireplaces and comfortable couches for guests to hangout, including a stunning antique library. You can sit by the fire and read a book, or challenge a friend in a game of chess. But after a day of travel, I opted to relax at the Turkish bath and sauna. Feeling relaxed, I headed down to their restaurant Vespasia for dinner, I was greeted by the chef Valentino Palmisano. A native of Naples, he spent the last 7 years in Shanghai and Kyoto, and returned to Italy in May 2017. I was excited to see what he brought back.
"It was so simple, and cooked to perfection. I could eat this every day."
Chef Palmisano explained that tomato is one of the most important ingredients in Italian cuisine, thus, the meal tonight will begin with a dish close to his heart- tomato spaghetti. It was so simple, and cooked to perfection. I could eat this every day. His experience in Asia shined through the next few dishes: yellow tail sashimi with sea urchin, followed by sweet and sour sweetbread. Then came the highlight of the meal for me- the black truffle tortellini with mushroom consommé. It was rich, yet very delicate. Followed with Acquerello rice with cauliflower, eel with saba, liquorice scents. Reminiscent of Japanese unagi don, my comfort dish. Chef Palmisano managed to find the perfect balance between traditional Umbrian cuisine and his experiences in Asia. This dinner was my dream meal: a beautiful marriage between my two favourite cuisines, Italian and Japanese. Each dish perfectly executed and I felt like I was taken on a journey of Umbria through the chef’s international culinary perspective.
After leaving Palazzo Seneca, I realized I had forgotten to return my room key. I had such a nice time there that I subconsciously didn’t want to leave. I felt very much at home, and wish I could lounge by the fireplace and eat pasta forever.