Archive for September, 2012

Lisa Walton’s group left yesterday and we prepare for Misty Mawn. Here, in two parts, is Lisa’s week. We began the week with a soothing homemade  soup served in the fresco adorned dining room of San Lodovico.

Soup is perfect after a travel day

Before an introduction to the wines of Umbria, we took a look at one of the many caves underlying the city, and the location of the regional enoteca for wine tasting.

Stairs down to Etruscan caves

Erika Bizzarri is an American who has lived in Italy for over 50 years. She is an incredible resource for our groups.

Dinner with Erika

In addition to the 1200 caves is this well dug for Pope Clement VII.

The well is about 100 feet deep

It turns out we had a birthday girl, so we got her a cake.

Julie’s birthday cake

Then there was the cooking class!

Everyone had a hand in the cooking

Troy is adept at rolling out the pasta

We had a beautiful, balmy day at the vineyard.

Beautiful countryside in the distance

Some of the group, through our Discover Orvieto trip, visited a goat farm and enjoyed a selection of goat cheeses.

The same group also visited an olive oil producer to savor their oils and olive paste.

Where the bread was toasted prior to putting the oil or paste on

Getting ready to taste oil

Then there is always gelato! Julie and Julia, who we dubbed the “Jewels” enjoyed their gelato on the watermelon bench outside the gelateria.

The Jewels

This third week was the most balmy of the three we have been here, but fall is coming. One more week until we return to the U.S.

Leaves are turning and beginning to fall

Next we’ll show you what Lisa had her students doing in the classroom.




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Here are some more pictures of Orvieto from this trip.

Near the cathedral

I love the way the lines merge at the open door in the distance



Crepe myrtle at the edge

Giovanni showing us the grapes at Palazzone

Countryside around Palazzone

The stormy day from last week

Sunset at Palazzone







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Tracie Huskamp’s group just finished up. Most of them are headed on to
Venice and Rome. One of the group started out on the west coast, traveled to China and South Korea, then here, and will return via New York to CA. Around the world! What fun it is to have such interesting and fun people in our groups!

Tracie led the group around Orvieto where they took pictures. She then helped them select just the right photos, crop them to a good size, have them printed and use that as a base for painting on fabric. I don’t know how she did it but the results were stunning. She brought mats to put each picture in, setting off the beautiful work. Here are some samples.

By Molly Gehring (Plastic cover over the matted picture creates the shine)

Debbie Smith

Glenda Hoagland

Maryann Villavert

Outside of class the group visited the market and shopped for a picnic lunch.

In the market

They visited some of the 1200 Etruscan and medieval caves under the city.

Before going down into the caves

Then they cooked at Zeppelin Ristorante.

Putting bread they made into the oven

Fresh veggies

Rolling out the pasta

Foccacia and bread sticks we made and sat down to eat

Bombe with gelato for dessert

We made a visit to Palazzone Vineyard on a sparkling day.

Giovanni tastes the wine from the stainless steel tank

A sparkling day at the vineyard

Which we enjoyed on the patio of the locanda built in 1290

With views back to Orvieto

We wish the group a fun next week as they travel on for more adventures. Thanks to all for joining us!! Tracie will be returning to teach in 2014. It isn’t too early to sign up!












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Beautiful Town

Orvieto is a gorgeous town. I never tire of taking pictures, and I seem always to have new inspiration when I am out and about. Here are a few random shots from our first two weeks here this fall.

This is becoming one of my favorite buildings to photograph

Detail from a medieval building

Palazzo Popolo

The Duomo

I’ll have more over then next few weeks.




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What a spectacular day yesterday was. It stormed during the night and the day dawned blustery and cloudy. Because of a conference in Piazza Popolo the market had been moved to Piazza Cahen. That put us at the edge of the rock where I was able to look out over the valley and some beautiful scenes.

A moody morning in Orvieto

Backlit mountains

This was amazing. The sun had lit up just a small sliver of clouds behind the tops of the mountains. Gorgeous.

In the afternoon we went first to the cemetery. The skies had cleared a bit and Orvieto was lit up in the distance.

Orvieto from the Cemetery

From here it was on to Palazzone vineyard. Despite an extraordinarily hot summer Giovanni is hopeful that they will have good wine this year. It is a smaller than normal harvest. We sampled two whites including the Terre Veneate, which had just won the Three Glasses award. Palazzone has been winning multiple awards in the last few years. We also sampled a Montefalco from a friend of Giovanni’s vineyard. Giovanni as been helping his friend develop the wines. Very, very good!

Sangiovese grapes nearly ready to be picked

The moody weather continued at the vineyard.

Beautiful landscapes

The weather prevented us from doing the wine tasting on the patio. But the tasting room is exceptionally cozy.

A warm inside room for wine

Then, about 7:30 we emerged from the tasting to a stunning sunset.

The dark skyline of Orvieto against the sunlit hills beyond

Che bello!

Simply a fantastic day!







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Cooking Class

We had our cooking class a couple of nights ago. We made an amazing number of different dishes. Here is the menu set beside the cheese-stuffed, batter-dipped zucchini blossoms we deep fried.

The Menu

There were several other items made like calzonne and bread, not on the menu. The zucchini blossoms weren’t on the menu either for that matter! We were busy campers. To get started we had an iced cafe correto. Correto (corrected) means a shot of something – in this case grappa.

Our beginning coffee

Then it was on to the serious cooking.


Martha and Carolyn cut meat for the stew

DJ and Nellie dice pineapple for the gelato

Fresh herbs from the garden that went into a variety of the dishes

Part of the kitchen and part of our crew

Sitting outside in the garden to eat

The plated “spezzatino” we made – beef stew

Lorenzo and Vitopaolo with our crew

The cooking class is always so much fun. And we get to have Lorenzo visit us back in the U.S. next month. We’re sitting down with him tomorrow to plan his visit. Another great meal to look forward to!







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We are in Orvieto just before the arrival of our groups. We have a couple of people here already, who were fortunate enough to be included in an invitation to lunch from our friend Erika. Erika is a wonderful expat who has lived in Italy for over 50 years. She has a wonderful house built on a hill across the valley from Orvieto.

It was a warm day, yet Erika’s shaded house was delightfully cool without air conditioning. We had a fantastic meal of bruschetta made with tomatoes from her garden, a lemon pasta using fresh pasta, sausages cooked in red wine, a zucchini carpacio with arugula and parmesan. She served an ice cream dessert with the juice from cherries she had preserved as well as a walnut liquor. YUM! Here are views of Orvieto from her house and a bit of the meal. How lucky are we?


Outside of Erika’s cool house


The view of Orvieto from her porch


A closer view of Orvieto


Lunch in preparation


Nearly ready


Our feast!

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