The daily diary of a wandering restaurateur
May 22 - Orvieto

Yesterday was a long one, so today we opted to stay a little closer to home base. We took the high road across the hills to Orvieto, a narrow set of switchbacks through tiny little towns, past fields of poppies and a gaggle or two of bicyclists (who definitely must have been brain dead to ride up and down those hills!) The views were spectacular, however.

Orvieto sits on a plug of volcanic tufa jutting over a thousand feet up out of the plain. Now probably best known for its wines, Orvieto was once one of the power states of central Italy. We had slept in a bit in the morning, so it was around 1:00 that we arrived in town. We parked by the train station and took the funiculare up to town. A short bus ride later and we were in the central square in front of the Duomo that dates from the 13th century.

The first order of business was lunch. Today we decided to go a little lower on the food chain and opted for a local cafeteria-like operation that had been recommended to us. La San Francesco actually fills its 400 seats for lunch in the summer but was nearly empty when we arrived. Lunch for four, including wine, was about $38.

Then it was off to wander the streets. Kenn and I did a lot of waiting while Elizabeth and Margene did a lot of shopping. (Fortunately, not all that much buying, but I guess that depends on your point of view!) Margene and I even decided to get physical and climbed 150 feet to the top of the clock tower originally built in the 13th century to keep an eye on the neighborhood. On a clear day, you can see Cincinnati. (Well, not quite . . . but it was not a clear day.) When we got down, our knees were shaking so the appropriate remedy seemed to be gelato. Now that I think of it, we have found gelato to be an appropriate remedy for most any ailment and a good preventative measure as well. Honestly, Italian gelato is like heaven -- intense flavors and a touch of sweetness without the richness of ice cream. Favorite discovery flavors to date: pine nut, hazelnut and something called miccioli that seems to be a combination of dark chocolate and blackberries. In other news, I managed to lose my sunglasses somewhere along the trek -- prescription, of course. I am sure that will make the rest of the trip more pleasant, particularly since the sun has decided to return.

After a futile re-tracing of steps looking for the glasses, we gave up and headed home. We had taken the precaution to load up on pasta, sauces, fresh bread and the like, so got really domestic and cooked back at the villa. It was nice to take a break from the restaurant routine and just kick back. Since the rest of the group is cutting back on the vino, I got the last of the $17 bottle of Nobile de Montipulciano and broke into the $3.50 bottle of local red that I bought out of curiosity. It was very pleasant! While it was definitely not of the quality of the Nobile, the Nobile was also definitely not five times as good. It raises some interesting questions of value, but I will reflect on those in a later note. Ciao for now.

The travelogue shots

Ristoranti del giorno

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