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 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
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.
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.
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
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.
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,
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
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.