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Gubbio Flag Throwing

This fall in Gubbio we hear trumpets blaring high above us. We worked our way up the hill to the main piazza to discover a flag throwing event going on. We have seen this in Orvieto, but it was fun to see it here as well. So many fun festivals in Italian towns!

Our first hint of the fun

Our first hint of the fun

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There they go!

There they go!

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A good crowd was on hand

A good crowd was on hand

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The drummers

The drummers

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Jumping over successively long lines of flag throwers.

Jumping over successively long lines of flag throwers.

It seems we always run into some kind of festival when traveling – part of the charm of Italy.

 

How to Say Thanks?

Doing Taste of Orvieto was simply a blast for Kristi and me. It was wonderful because of the incredible people we are privileged to work with in Orvieto. The development of the relationships we now have has been years in the making – 11 to be exact. We call all of these people friends.

The thing is, they are supremely generous. Generous with their time, with their knowledge, with their enthusiasm, with their patience with us, and with their passion for what they do. It is so humbling every trip we make to Orvieto to witness how much all of these folks give us. We were at the receiving end of it all with our Taste trip. And those who travel with us were the beneficiaries along with us. So I just want to say thank you to each of these people for giving us an incredible week.

Graziella

Graziella

Graziella is our rock. She knows everything and everyone related to food. She is an educator and a sommelier and has been leading us in wine tastings for years. Each tasting is a completely different and eye opening experience. It was she who guided us to Casa Parrina – our exploration of honey. She has other ideas for us for our future Tastes. This year, she not only provided us a wine tasting, but included a dinner of exquisite foods. It was memorable.

One year we had what turned out to be the great good fortune to be without a cook for another trip. That led us to Simona, where we cooked with her in

Simona

Simona

the kitchen of Palazzo del Gusto. It was superb, as she too is a fabulous teacher. However, we knew we would like to cook with her at her house, at which she holds periodic dinners we had never been able to make. With Taste we were able to drive to her house and cook in the perfect kitchen, in the charming house, in the exquisite countryside setting. Such a treat on so many different levels.

Rosella

Rosella

Thanks to Graziella we visited Casa Parrina. We had not been before, but trusted Graziella implicitly. And it was amazing. Another idyllic country setting, an incredibly gracious family, a completely fascinating process, and a beautiful meal featuring their honeys served in their kitchen. Rosella, Morando and their son David showed us what a small family run farming operation is like. We tasted the wine from their vineyard, the oil from their orchard, and their superb honeys. Such a beautiful insight into their way of life.

Morando and David

Morando and David

Kim and Lorenzo

Kim and Lorenzo

I’ve lost count how many times we have cooked with Chef Lorenzo. A James Beard chef who has cooked at the White House and UN, he is also a historian, a preserver of culture and an innovator. In addition, he leads a most entertaining and informative cooking class. But we had never before been able to accompany him to the market, shop with him, sample market goods, hear the history of foods, the people, and the land. So this was a rare treat to take full advantage of all Lorenzo knows. The market was a fabulous education, which we carried with us as we returned to cook. And now, Lorenzo’s partner, Kim, is working with him – and us – to further enhance what already was an exceptional experience.

Then there was the impetus for this trip – the olive harvest. Tasting the oil from freshly pressed olives, we were told, is a completely sublime event. We have

Rita and Bruno

Rita and Bruno

been bringing people who travel with our Discover Orvieto trip to Rita’s for some time. She has guided us over the years in their transition from using huge stones to press the olives to an ultra modern process. Always gracious, giving us her time to explain the museum, the proud history, and then serving us her oil, olives and wine, it has always been a highlight. But this time we spent the day, she and Bruno taught us to pick the olives. She fed us a superb lunch with their oil, their wine, their olive pastes. Then they helped us bring our olives in. We watched them go to press and then tasted the freshest. most succulent oil imaginable. We left with a can of our own oil. Rita was as genuinely thrilled and pleased as we were. She could not have given us a more fulfilling experience.

Giovanni took time to call us from Venice

Giovanni took time to call us from Venice

Our trips to Orvieto have always had more than their fair share of serendipity. We began visiting Palazzone Vineyard because of a friendship with the sister of Giovanni’s wife. We were personally driven out in several trips on our first visit. And it has been superb ever since. Giovanni is passionate about what he does. He makes superb wines, he is cutting edge in marketing and production, yet he hangs on to tradition. He is unbelievably generous with his time, even in the middle of their harvest. He couldn’t be with us for Taste because he was in Venice receiving an award for his wine. Yet he called and spoke to us while we were at the vineyard. And Isabella,

Isabella in the Etruscan tomb, now wine cellar

Isabella in the Etruscan tomb, now wine cellar

Giovanni’s multi-talented assistant – she is a vet, teaches English, and is Giovanni’s right hand woman, showed us the new “old” way they are producing wine before guiding us through a lunch paired with their incredible wines. It was a beautiful, soft end to a week we are so glad to have been able to do.

And I could not say thanks for this week without also saying thanks to Giovanna, Franca, Barbara, and all the staff at San Lodovico who make our stay

Cara Giovanna

Cara Giovanna

so calm, peaceful and enchanted. To a person, our travelers enter our convent B&B and immediately sense the tranquility of the place. After a long day of travel, or after the frenetic pace of Rome, or after the simple stress of trying to negotiate a foreign land, the door opens, the loggia and garden and Giovanna’s welcome embrace let everyone know they are home. Truly, she and the place she has created are a blessing.

Finally, I want to thank those intrepid souls who traveled with us for this week. You were fabulous. Thank you Mary and Greg, Pam, Mary Ann, Sharon and Phil, Jan and Wayne, Kate, Maggie, Hanna and Nick.

Tomb, Wine, Lunch – Two

We continued down the hill through the fog. It was beautiful.

Palazzoner2013-10-26-12-16-25Palazzoner2013-10-26-12-22-57Palazzoner2013-10-26-12-26-00Palazzoner2013-10-26-12-57-43

This was our view as we went inside for wine tasting and lunch.

This was our view as we went inside for wine tasting and lunch – the hills above obscured by fog.

Isabella had selected the wines to pair with lunch.

Isabella had selected the wines to pair with lunch.

Oh, and what a lunch!

Oh, and what a lunch!

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It was capped off with cheese and honey paired with the Muffa Nobilis dessert wine of Palazzone.

It was capped off with cheese and honey paired with the Muffa Nobilis dessert wine of Palazzone.

As is typical, the sun emerged after lunch.

As is typical, the sun emerged after lunch.

Orvieto visible in all her glory.

Orvieto visible in all her glory.

And beautiful vistas in all directions.

And beautiful vistas in all directions.

We returned to Orvieto where the Taste of Orvieto group had one last wonderful meal together, before all departing the next day for new adventures. Wine, food, olive oil, honey, cooking, shopping the market – it was an exquisite week!

Tomb, Wine, Lunch

The last day of our Taste of Orvieto trip arrived as so many had with a misty morning. While the mist varies from day to day, this day it was quite thick and visibility was limited. We set off for Palazzone, our favorite vineyard for a special treat.

Giovanni, the vineyard owner, a progressive and avant-garde vintner, also loves tradition. Several years ago he planted a section of his vineyard in the traditional way – with all the grape varieties intermingled rather than separate as is now done. This year was the first they could harvest and press the grapes, which he did, again in the old fashioned way. Grapes were picked all

Old pump used to pump the must into the new barrels.

Old pump used to pump the must into the new barrels.

together, pressed with an old press and placed in a newly built tank to ferment, using only the natural yeast on the grapes. After fermenting the grapes were moved to new barrels, where they will age. All of this is being done in what once was an Etruscan tomb, and where his father first aged his wine.

So our group got to visit the new operation at the top of the hill above Palazzone winery. I had been here several weeks earlier when the temperature was quite warm and you could feel a noticeable coolness in the tomb. At that time the must had not yet been transferred to the casks, where it now rested.

We climbed up to the tomb through the mist.

We climbed up to the tomb through the mist.

And learned about the process at the tomb door.

And learn about the process at the tomb door.

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Inside is beautifully lit, though hard to capture with a camera.

Inside it’s beautifully lit, though hard to capture with a camera.

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Isabella explains it all to us.

Isabella explains it all to us.

The casks with their aging wine.

The casks with their aging wine.

When bottled the wine will be stored in the tomb, and tastings can take place in this second room.

When bottled, the wine will be stored in the cool, cool tomb, and tastings can take place in this second room.

Palazzone2013-10-26-12-06-18When we emerged the mist was still with us. We were able to walk down to the vineyard through the mist – next!

 

 

 

 

 

Our Olive Oil!

Finally, we were ready to have our olives pressed into oil. The goal Rita gave us was 100 kilos. When she measured our harvest it was 213 kilos – 468.6 pounds! This group rocks!Oil2013-10-25-15-08-51

Our olives going up the conveyor to be washed then fed to the press.

Our olives going up the conveyor to be washed then fed to the press.

Here, Adventures in Italy scrolls across the bin mixing our paste for processing into oil.

Here, Adventures in Italy scrolls across the bin mixing our paste for processing into oil.

Rita and Bruno were absolutely fabulous during our visit.

Rita and Bruno were absolutely fabulous during our visit.

Bruno shows how to put the labels on our very own cans.

Bruno shows how to put the labels on our very own cans.

We each do our own can and label.

We each do our own can and label.

Ready for the oil.

Ready for the oil.

Look at that color!!

Look at that color!!

Oh my!

Oh my!

Rita passes the bottles to Bruno, who fills the cans.

Rita passes the bottles to Bruno, who fills the cans.

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What an amazing day. The taste of this oil is incredible, even now three weeks after we picked and pressed the olives. The color is still that amazing green. Such a rich experience, made more wonderful by Rita, Bruno, Carla and the rest of the people at Bartolomei. We will return.

Picking Olives – Three

We were making good progress toward our goal of 100 kilos. And, it was time for lunch. Back inside to enjoy a simple, delicious lunch, again featuring the incredible olive oil and olive pastes from Bartolomei.

Oil2013-10-25-13-05-59I could live on their bread and oil. So simple, yet so good!

More coal-toasted bread

More coal-toasted bread

Oil2013-10-25-13-14-47Bartolomei makes two very nice wines in addition to their oil – an Orvieto Classico, and a red, both oh-so-tasty. I also brought the wonderful wine we had in Offida to share. Here our two tables enjoying a most satisfying lunch after our morning’s work.

Oil2013-10-25-13-17-27Italy learning vacationOil2013-10-25-13-26-10By the time we returned to the fields the sun had come out and our afternoon picking was under a blue, blue sky.

Oil2013-10-25-14-54-29Oil2013-10-25-15-00-59In addition to the big container we had been filling we had these to bring to the mill to be pressed and turned into oil. Our very own oil, next!

Picking Olives – Two

Fortified, we headed out to pick olives. The first order of business was to pick someone to drive the Lamborghini tractor to the field. Lamborghini started out as a tractor company and only relatively recently began making their beautiful cars.

Wayne can now say he's driven a Lamborghini!

Wayne can now say he’s driven a Lamborghini!

Misty start to the day

Misty start to the day

Oil2013-10-25-11-03-19Job one was to spread nets out under the trees to catch the harvested olives.

Rita demonstrating how

Rita demonstrating how

Are we paying attention?

Are we paying attention?

The work begins

The work begins

The olives begin to fall

The olives begin to fall

Oil2013-10-25-11-11-37Oil2013-10-25-11-18-55Oil2013-10-25-11-34-10Oil2013-10-25-11-40-13Oil2013-10-25-13-04-42We gather round to assess how we are doing. The goal for the day is 100 kilos or 220 pounds. We’re making progress. More to come!

 

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