Olives and Jazz in Orvieto

Olives and Jazz in Orvieto

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Aix en Provence for the Easter Festival.

The Bartolomei Olive Farm is about half an hour south of Orvieto, on the outskirts of the village of Montecchio, and is always a treat to visit.12301401 bartolomei montecchioFirst we walk through the museum, featuring photos and implements used by several generations of the family,12301401 bartolomei museumthen we enjoy a tasting of their new olive oil, pressed earlier in the month. 12301401 bartolomei tastingFor months, both at home in Virginia and here in Italy, we’ve been hearing about the disastrous outcome of this year’s harvest, and we learn from Cristina that, as throughout Italy and France, due to the wet and cooler-than-usual summer and the preceding warmer than normal winter, most of the olives were attacked by flies and turned out mushy and flavorless. Bartolomei has bottled about half what they usually do, and did not even bottle any of the DOP ( Protected Destination of Origin – a strict Italian standard for quality, excellence, and originality) oil this year because their best olives were not usable. So this year’s is ok, but not at all as flavorful as usual. Still worth bringing home a tin!
On the way back to Orvieto, we take a different route, stopping for a view of the clifftop beauty.12301401 orvietoRuss is coming down with a cold, so takes a break for the afternoon, hoping to join us for the evening concert.
It’s always an adventure walking down the narrow cobbled lane to and from Palazzo Piccolomini – you always have to be ready to step aside to leave room for a car on the one lane.12301401piccolomini laneCynthia Bland and the Road Home Band keep things hopping12301402 cynthia blandduring our lunch at Al San Francesco.12301402 cynthia blands band no russLorri and I join her for a photo after the concert,12301402 ladiesand then talk with  Lawrence, the pianist we heard yesterday with the Love Supreme commemorative concert – yes, his fingers are definitely longer than mine!12301402 yes longest fingersOne of the great things about Umbria Jazz Winter is the camaraderie with the musicians – we’re all together in this little clifftop town, several of them are staying at our hotel, we stop and talk with others after concerts or when passing on the street  – it adds so much to the fun of the festival.
We’re chatting with Todd Duke, the lead guitar of Cynthia’s band, after the concert, and although he’s thinking about a nap, having not slept much at all last night,  he decides to join us for the tour of the Duomo, Orvieto’s beautiful cathedral.12301403 cathedral tour with todd dukeSo Kirk’s appreciative audience has increased, and he enjoys showing off this towering beauty,12301403 no sleep but wanted to know russ coldand the powerful frescoes of Signorelli, which impressed and influenced Michelangelo centuries ago.12301403 chapel with powerful signorelliBy the way, Signorelli included a line item for a good supply of Orvieto Classico, the famed white wine of the area, in his contract!
For years we’ve gazed at the windows of Orogami, an only-in-Orvieto creative fine jeweler, and since we’re still looking for Christmas presents, we decide to look more closely at their wares. Their intricate designs are arranged by themes – seeds is the most recent, labyrinth, bubbles, and other creative ideas are from previous collections. 12301403 orogamiOh they are just gorgeous, but we’ll have to continue to enjoy just looking 😉
We walk back to the hotel, joining the evening passeggiata,12301403 passeggiatathen through Piazza Republicca, from where a Christmas market spreads through the lanes,12301403 christmas market spreads from pzza repwith a copper vat of steaming Vin Brulé under the tree.12301404 steaming vat of vin bruleRuss is ready to join us for the evening, and we stop at Bartolomei’s in-town location for a light supper, circled around an old olive pressing stone.12301405 bartolomei light supper on wheel russ a bit better It used to be just a shop, but they’ve now moved to a bigger place and serve some delicious local specialties as well, such as this warming soup, drizzled with as much Bartolomei olive oil as you’d like.12301405 bowl of soupAnyone who’s joined us on a Music and Markets Tour knows how we like our box seats! And the spacious gilt, cream and velvet boxes of Teatro Mancinelli are some of the best. Russ and Lorri have front row seats for a terrific evening of creative jazz – a duo of duets, 12301405 box first Omar Sosa on piano and Paolo Fresu on trumpet,12301405 duo of duetsthen Davell Crawford and Jon Batiste on two long grand pianos…the music goes on past midnight! That’s Umbria Jazz for you!12301405 pianists this eve was the faveOne concert after the other is remarkable throughout the week, but at the end of the festival, we all agree that this double concert was our favorite.


Olives and Jazz  in Orvieto

Olives and Jazz in Orvieto

December 30, 2012
Orvieto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Next on the itinerary: Our spring tours in Barcelona, Venice or Prague

There’s a little window overlooking rooftops and a stone arched lane from our top floor perch at Palazzo Piccolomini, and when we peek out the shutters in the morning we’re greeted with pale rose skies – another lovely day to explore Umbria!
And explore we do, winding through hills and valleys to the Bartolomei olive oil farm on the outskirts of the pretty village of Montecchio.

Carla welcomes us with a warm smile, and leads us to the family olive oil museum, with ancient tools used by Bartolomei generations past.

The harvest and pressing was completed earlier this month, and we’re treated to samples of the bounty, beginning with tiny olives marinated in olive oil and orange zest, then truffled mushroom paté and olive paste ( as Carla calls it – similar to tapenade).

The piéce de resistance? Thick slices of country bread,

toasted and drizzled simply with new olive oil – unbelievably delicious!


For generations these very trees have provided oil for the family, then the village, and now delighted customers around the world. We all leave with bags of treats that will prolong the pleasure back in our homes.

We’re back in Orvieto in time for a noon Umbria Jazz concert in one of our favorite venues, the Emilio Greco museum. The jazz trio performs in the midst of his works

– doesn’t that statue “listening” to the piano look like it was created just for these concerts?

The museum, a former papal palace, is just next door to the Duomo, whose magnificent doors, added generations later than the structure itself, were created by Greco.

After some time on our own in the afternoon, we’re getting ready for a concert at al San Francesco, and would you look at this? Not only sunrises, but sunsets adorn the patch of sky out our window!

The band’s playing as we’re escorted to our front row table, filling our plates with delicious offerings from the buffet table.

Gary Brown and Feelings, who play a mix of jazz, blues, and standards such as this old New Orleans tune, have become a favorite of ours (and not just us, they’re always a sell-out!)