Many say the Umbria region of Italy is what Tuscany was 30 years ago, but when we arrived midmorning in Orvieto, it felt like a crowded town of daytrippers from Rome. That’s because that’s exactly what it was, until about 5 pm when the city became ours. Orvieto, famous for its ceramics and its Duomo, is about an hour from Rome but worlds away come evening. During our two nights here, we stayed at the wonderful B&B La Magnolia http://www.bblamagnolia.it/ with a perfect location on a pedestrian street just off the main piazza. We had a huge, fabulous room with frescoed ceiling and a bathroom as big as our whole room back in Siena. Serena is a wonderful host and breakfast was at the family café on the ground floor, where we sat on the sidewalk and took in the namesake magnolia tree and views of the Duomo.
Orvieto is perched atop a large butte of volcanic tuff. On the first day here, we explored the town on foot and at the end of town we saw a sign for a walking trail that rings the butte know as Anello della Rupe, or simply The Rupe. This trail offers spectacular views of the countryside.
The guidebook said the entire trail was three miles around, but after walking on this strenuous trail for an hour, we were only about a third of the way around. Whoever posted the distance must have also been in charge of the signage along the trail as there was little to none and only by sheer luck did we stumble onto a path that led us back up into the town. With Russell’s knee still healing from his injury, he was not in the best of spirits when we returned to our B&B, so to cheer him up, the rest of our group headed to the Enoteca Barberani , facing the Duomo, and educated ourselves on the local libation of choice, Orvieto Classico. Needless to say after we returned with a few bottles, Russell’s knee felt much better and we were ready for venture out for an amazing dinner at Antico Bucchero http://www.ristoranteorvietoanticobucchero.com/ where we feasted on a farro salad with fresh mozzarella and a roll of rabbit with fennel, potato, raisin, and spinach. Divine!
The following day we opted to do some sightseeing of the monuments. We had purchased a Carta Orvieto Unica which included admission at all of the important sites in Orvieto—a great deal. We started inside of the Duomo where we saw the famous corporal stained from the blood of the communion in the Eucharistic Miracle (origin of the Feast of Corpus Christi) of 1263. From there we crossed the piazza and checked out the Civic Museum where I came out onto the balcony and had my Evita Peron moment. Then it was on to the MODO Museum and the National Archeology Museum, which paid homage to the Etruscans, and finally the Pozzo della Cava (Well of the Cave) where the octogenarian docent took a fancy to me. Ciao, Giovanni!
After some more Orvieto Classico back at the B&B, it was time to once again enjoy some evening strolling in post-daytrip Orvieto. As we waited for Trattoria del Moro Aronne http://www.trattoriadelmoro.info/en to open with many other visitors with the same idea, we must have disrupted the otherwise tranquil alley as this woman same to her window and starred at all of us with disdain. Adorable. Enduring her scorn was worth it though after the doors opened and we scored one of the few unreserved tables. The specialty here is the nidi, homemade pasta with warm pecorino cheese and honey. This is a culinary creation like no other and cannot be missed! The evening concluded with a final stroll in the piazza and some step sitting in front of the Duomo to watch all the play of the local children and enjoy the nighttime calm of this great Umbrian hill town. Our morning train the next day would bring us to Rome and all of its frenzy, so this experience on the steps was the calm before the storm. We were thankful to have stayed a few days here as those who do just daytrip here miss out on the real Orvieto, which I guess you could call the “Orvieto Classico”.