To begin, Bill and I would like to thank our friends, Susan Forkush and Adrian Misarti, for an unforgettable visit to Orvieto. Susan, who also lives in Santa Barbara, lives in the historic center of Orvieto. Adrian, who was a university colleague of Bill’s many years ago, lives in the countryside outside of Orvieto. Through Susan we met many fun people, including Roy, Victoria, David, and Laurie. And through Adrian, we met his partner, the charming and interesting Alessandra who originally came from Naples, and Adrian’s daughter, Nicole, who grew up in Milan, speaks Italian, and is a scientist in Alaska who visits her dad every year.
A very special time for us was when the parents of Jacopo Giacopuzzi, an excellent pianist who lives in Santa Barbara, visited us. Patrizia and Claudio live in Verona, a city 315 kilometers (195 miles) north of Orvieto. We had dinner together and then took a walk through Orvieto to see the Good Friday candlelight procession. The next day we went to Civita di Bagnoregio, a small and beautiful Medieval town where visitors must climb a long, steep hill to get there. But it is worth it. Then…a welcome picnic at Lake Bolsena!
Here are some things that we really loved or learned on this trip:
- La colomba (the dove), a pastry typical at Easter, and also “la torta sbrisolona” from Mantua, which the Giacopuzzi brought for our festivities
- The signs in front of the stores that proudly list local products: la porchetta (similar to a pork loin), il cinghiale (wild boar meat), and other meats; pastas like umbrichelli and also strozzapreti and tagliatelle; the the famous wine of the area–Orvieto Classico
- Other signs that read “For Rent” or “For Sale”– a sign of the hard economic times in Italy but also perhaps a sign of social change where children no longer want to live in parents’ houses in small towns but prefer larger cities
- The seasonal vegetables–artichokes, fava beans, and asparagus–at the market in Piazza del Popolo
- The iconic Duomo of Orvieto with its beautiful mosaic facade, the Signorelli frescoes inside, and the bells that ring every day at 8:45 and noon
- Orvieto is also known for its underground wells. Food could be stored underground in the past and allowed many popes over the centuries to survive in this city. Moreover, the “caves” form a sort of honeycomb that perhaps cushions Orvieto from earthquakes.
- Every morning, a cornetto (croissant) and a coffee (espresso) at a different bar
- Corso Cavour, “main street” in Orvieto, that runs through the city to the funicular (I wonder if Corso Cavour is one of the most common street names in Italy)
- The funicular that descends to Orvieto Scalo; it seems that many Medieval towns on hills have “a scalo” below where there usually is a train station
- Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy–the gorgeous rolling hills with so many shades of green from the new growth on the grape leaves in the vineyards to the dark green of the cypress trees
- Day trips to charming nearby towns like Rocca Ripesena, Castel Viscardo, Allerona, and Castiglione in Teverina
- Finally, I didn’t know that the Tiber existed beyond Rome. In fact, it’s the third longest river in Italy that originates in the Apennines in Emilia-Romagna and flows 406 kilometers from Umbria to Lazio