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Archive for the ‘Slow travel vacations’ Category

Pico Iyer had this to say about travel:

You’re not traveling to move but to be moved.

I’m sure this is not true for everyone, and it is but one reason to travel. But, it is an important reason. One of the great beauties of travel is that it does open your eyes: To new ways, new approaches, new beliefs, new concepts, new understandings. And these things move you.

Orvieto's mid-level walk

Orvieto’s mid-level walk

Being moved is more difficult if you are constantly moving as you travel. If you do not have time to absorb and take in a place. If you don’t allow yourself time to reflect, to simply gaze, to be unhurried. This is why I am such a fan of slow travel, and why it is how we do our trips.

We have been going to Orvieto for 15 years, twice a year, for 3-8 weeks at a time. There hasn’t been a trip where I didn’t discover something new, see something I hadn’t seen before, had a revelation of some kind. Where I didn’t have some kind of aha moment. Truly, it has been a privilege.

Early morning in Orvieto

Early morning in Orvieto

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Thursday the twice weekly market is in town full of the freshest produce. We went and gathered goodies for a picnic to have in the courtyard.

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In the afternoon we went out to Palazzone vineyard on a beautiful afternoon. It is just incredible as the afternoon progresses how the light gets softer and softer turning the hills into the gentlest velvet.

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A bit of the lawn in front of the locanda built around 1200

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Orvieto in the background

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The view of Orvieto from the terrace where we tasted 4 wines and these delicacies.

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Back on the rock after dinner – an evening stroll.

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Just hard not to love this place!!

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At the end of our first full day we do a wine and food pairing dinner with Graziella, Rita, and Carla. We’ve done this dozens of times and it is always different. Amazing the variety, and the creativity of these powerhouse women.

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This was the appetizer plate. Eggplant flan with a squash puree on top, truffle on bread, arugula pesto and more. This was preceded with bruschetta using Rita and Carla’s unbelievable olive oil.

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Asparagus pasta

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For the secondo we had lamb and a salad. Not pictured was panna cotta with strawberries for dessert. Each course came with a different wine that Graziella helped us taste and appreciate with the food it was paired.

Next night we went to make pasta with Maurizio, followed by dinner on the pasta we had made.

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Emma, Maurizio’s daughter who I have known since she was one, joined us for her first ever pasta making lesson.

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Maurizio had this beautiful machine that rolls out the dough in a heartbeat. Very cool!

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Angel hair, tagliatelle, fettuccine, and papperdelle all coming from the dough we made.

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There are about 230 different pasta shapes in Italy! Maurizio showed us just a few of the possibilities.

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This long one I want to try at home. It holds lots of sauce. Need to go back and get the name of it from him! Then came the dinner.

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The appetizer plate that includes a little omelette, a little quiche, two baby pizzas, and one made with turnips. Mamma Mia!

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The primis. Two pastas – one with a ragu sauce and one with eggplant. In front is risotto made with saffron from his garden. Incredible! And he showed us a new way to get the risotto started I’ll be trying at home.

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The secondi. Wild boar, roast beef, bacon, roasted potato, and look how he made flowers with the veggies!

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Maurizio is a pastry chef by training. This was dessert, all of it delectable.

So that was two nights with of yum. Last night we ate at Cibus. The have a new, beautiful menu.

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A big bowl of mussels and sea bream. Two big, beautiful salads to finish the night.

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Cappuccino at the market before shopping for a picnic lunch. Food in Italy! Buon appetito!!

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Italy has wonderful food. It varies by region, is not just spaghetti or pizza. Here is a little tour of our food from the last few days to give a sense of the variety and how beautiful it is.

We love eating with “The boys” at Vin Caffe.

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Most people go to Vin Caffe for a beer or wine, but they also have excellent light food. If ordering a drink they always bring a wonderful, ever-varied plate of appetizers as this one here.

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Two soups. One is a lentil-bean. The near one is a chickpea soup with bacala – salt codfish. Oh so good!

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Still at Vin Caffe, a mixed salad, buffalo mozzarella which is the silkiest, most divine mozzarella you can imagine, and a plate of radicchio with cheese and bread that has been put under the broiler. Oh my!

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We are now at Folk Osteria. Folk has innovative, nontraditional food, which is a sheer pleasure if you want something different. Here is prima salata pecorino cheese with tomatoes and asparagus. The cheese is made from sheep milk and is creamy. In front, a stew made from chickpeas and legumes served in a bread bowl.

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On to Bartolomei where, with our groups, we do our first night food and wine pairing. Faro salad, prosciutto and melon. Not pictured a barley soup.

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Mushroom pizza at Bistrotters which has Orvieto’s best pizza. Super thin, crispy crust, light sauce.

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La Palomba is a traditional restaurant known for their use of truffles. Here we have chicoria, a kind of green, a mixed salad, lamb, and a steak in red wine sauce.

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Or favorite restaurant is Torre Moro d’Aronne where our good friend Christian holds forth. Simply the best. Here eggs with asparagus baked in the oven, eggplant meatballs which you would swear is meat, and chicoria again.

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Desserts are killer, and if you can’t decide, head to the street and get gelato!!

Then there is the market. We do lots of picnics with our groups because it is light and we get such fresh produce.

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We also get salads for our picnics from Montanuccia’s

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Then you have to finish or start the day with coffee!

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So much food, such good food!!

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One of the true joys of our Taste of Orvieto trip is the day we pick olives. Picking olives is quintessentially Italian. Most people have their own collection of trees from which they believe the world’s best oil is found. So to spend a day where we pick, press, and leave with our very own oil is so Italian. And of course our oil is the world’s best!

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Here is our group, olive trees behind us, nets spread out ready to catch our harvest.

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We use small rakes to pull olives off the branches which fall onto the nets from which we gather them up to be taken to the press.

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Beautiful to see the fruit of our labor heading to be cleaned and then sent to be pressed.

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We had to get in line behind this gentleman who brought his olives to the mill for pressing. He watched over every last detail carefully.

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This is his Ape with containers for his oil.

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We have lunch at the mill – Bartolomei. There is nothing quite like fresh oil on bread toasted over open coals.

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Rita about to put the oil on our bread.

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It’s always a fabulous, filling lunch at Bartolomei!

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Our oil begins to flow.

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We help fill our cans.

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A beautiful, tasty memento to take home and enjoy over the winter!

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Wow! We had a wonderful new experience yesterday. It was a first for us and for Maurizio and Roberta who, for the first time, hosted a beer tasting/food pairing at their artisanal brewery Cento Litri.

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Maurizio introduced us to, and took us through, his beer making process.

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He ferments the must at different temperatures depending on the style of beer. In some, the yeast settles to the bottom and he removes it before drawing the must off. His beer is unfiltered, and develops the carbonation once in the bottle as it continues to ferment.

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His laboratory is spotless and gleaming.

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The house which sits above the brewery was hand made by Maurizio and his father-in-law. It took 7 years to complete, and is gorgeous. They just finished enclosing this porch, which is where we had our tasting/dinner.

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Maurizio prepares the beer. The sun continued to drop and the light fade.

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Antipasti with one kind of beer – a biondo. Roberta made the bread, and jam, and friends made the cheese and lardo. The rest of dinner was her wonderful creation.

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Gnocchi with mushrooms, and an American pale ale.

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The sun set, the moon followed, our happy selves reflected in the glass.

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Cinghiale, some of the best we’ve ever had, and look at that potato. Mama mia!

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Dessert beer?  Yes, my goodness, yes! It complemented the apple and fig tart so incredibly well.

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There we are enjoying the end of a delightful evening.

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The end. Thank you Maurizio, Roberta and Graziella!! What an incredible time you gave us.

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