Well, I wasn’t able to really post while we were in Orvieto since I was more content to be in the city. Here is a report written by my good wife Kristi appearing in our newsletter that just went out. You can sign up for the newsletter at our web site.
We had near perfect weather every single day which made for long, lingering picnics in the Convent courtyard and pleasant hours spent wandering the intriguing streets and alleyways of town, slurping a cold gelato or munching a hot piece of pizza bianco.
Enjoying our gelatos
We love being able to share the week’s highlights with you. Always, yes every single trip, we are the lucky recipients of some powerful gem of wisdom. This year it came from Giovanna, the sister who is the heart of the Convent. In coming to love Orvieto, she said; “The tufa rock absorbs you.”
This is exactly what it feels like! Each of us arrives somewhat frazzled and bewildered to this hilltop town in Umbria. Then, slowly through wonderful experiences with earnest local artisans and experts, we find ourselves relaxing. Sharing an appreciation of fresh food, local wine, and the stunning landscapes, we feel ourselves literally melt into the tufa rock. By week’s end, we are connected to Orvieto, to the rhythms of daily Italian life, connected to ourselves. What a privilege it is to spend a week living and learning in Orvieto.
Dinner at a favorite restaurant
Spring was in full glory this May. Umbria has had one of the wettest winters in history making every hill and valley look its greenest. Fields were bursting with
Our B&B garden
winter wheat and spelt, just waiting for harvest. We enjoyed seeing new growth on tender grapevines during our visit to the stunning Palazzone Vineyard. Owner Giovanni showed us in detail the many steps necessary to prune and train each vine onto its support for optimum growth.
Spring mornings begin early with hundreds of swifts darting and playing in the clear blue skies. They seem to make a game of swooping as close as they can to windows and walls, superior acrobats that they are. They feast on insects morning and evening, meaning we are free to live with our bedroom windows open all through the night – no screens needed in Orvieto!
Blossoms we later cooked and ate in our cooking class
A trip to the weekly market offers a quick snapshot of what the season has to offer. Artichokes were plentiful in nearly every booth. We saw a range of sizes from huge globes to the daintiest small “babies”. A real treat this year was to find raw artichoke salad on the menu at several trattorias. Mixed with lemon and basil, it was fresh, tart and heavenly.
Asparagus was also in season. We ate it in so many variations throughout the week; as a pasta, as a soup, and combined with artichokes in the local umbricelli.
Asparagus and beans
Peas, fava beans, chicory, endive and all manner of lettuces filled the raucous market stalls. It was no trouble to assemble tasty picnic fixings from the vast array of local produce. No matter what the season, we dine divinely while in Orvieto!
May fills Orvieto with delightful scents of mock orange, fading wisteria, handsome iris, locust trees blooming on every hillside, and jasmine buds just beginning to open. Roses seem to grow everywhere; in courtyards, in vineyards at the beginning of each row of grapes, and in countless pots
Flower vendor at the market
throughout town. As we sadly announced we were leaving Orvieto to our friend and restaurateur Christian, he said, “But how can you leave when May is the month of the sweetest scents?” Spoken so beautifully by our macho-man friend.
We’ve come to expect amazing surprises when we visit Orvieto, things we couldn’t imagine planning pop up to delight our groups. Two stand out for us.
The first was an invitation to join the Convent and its nursery school children in celebrating the birthday of their patron saint, St. Giovanna. We adored seeing the tiniest of children march in an orderly procession, singing and holding hands. Later, we joined their families for a lavish pot luck luncheon where we sampled delicacies straight from kitchens in Orvieto! Being able to share a special occasion like this with neighbors adds such authenticity to our stay.
The second surprise was a fascinating afternoon shared with three women who meet weekly at the Convent for a class on traditional lace making. There is a long and rich heritage of this exacting art form in Orvieto. We felt so lucky to be able to view the painstaking work of these dedicated students. Through a little Italian and broken English, we were able to share our excitement and have our many questions answered. Such surprises that become priceless memories.
One Participant’s Perspective this year
“We learned so much by being in Orvieto. The time with you was educational, exciting and fun. The sisters at the convent overflowed with wit, love and service. The convent was so bright and airy. So many charming scenes to pass through our heads. The children parading to the chapel is one of the best. Seeing the lace is another. The lunches in the courtyard, still another. Your relationships with the people in Orvieto is to be envied.”
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