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Jazzy Days in Orvieto

Jazzy Days in Orvieto

December 2017
Orvieto, Italy

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.

 Umbria Jazz Winter is now in its 25th year, filling the hilltop town of Orvieto with jazz all hours of the day and night. This marvelous town, halfway between Rome and Florence, is a joy any time of year, but especially delightful during this winter festival – jazz drifts through the doorways of bars and cafes, bundled up fans and families linger in the piazzas, sample a chewy nut from the chestnut vendor while sipping mulled wine, stroll the lanes during the evening passeggiata, pausing to greet friends, showing off holiday gifts of new cozy coats, follow the Tuscan troubadors Funk Off as they march through the streets twice a day – it’s all so much fun! It’s been 15 years since the first time we came, and my most vivid memory of that first year, 2002, is the New Orleans Jazz band strutting through the streets. The current marching jazzmen have been leading the parade for 14 years now – at noon and at 6.
The town goes to sleep for the winter, from what we’ve been told, after Umbria Jazz Winter, but it’s lively as ever right now – the florist under the arcades doing a brisk business, shop windows and entries showing off their best New Year’s Eve attire  the most beautiful boutique in town is esconced in a gorgeous old palazzo. Ready for a bite to eat, we grab a stump-table at Cantina Foresi, beside the majestic Duomo, and order the soup of the day and a platter of Umbrian tastes – superb as always! 
Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini is the perfect historic-center location to really feel a part of Umbria Jazz Winter  – each year some of the musicians stay there, making our breakfast and aperitif conversations quite memorable for both us and our tour guests. This year a legendary bass player, Henry Grimes from New York, and his wife, were a pleasure to talk to – and passed on a CD recorded with Henry’s trio in the renowned Village Vanguard where some tour clients took us last year!
On our way to check out the sunset from our hilltop perch, we pass through quiet lanes, and there it is – a beauty! The pink hue spreads from west to east, where the cliff edge reminds us how high we are.
Another strut through town with Funk Off, another delicious Umbrian meal, just one more stroll through beautiful Orvieto, and we say goodbye til next years’ Umbria Jazz Winter.

Orvieto – Charm on a Hilltop!

Orvieto – Charm on a Hilltop!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Orvieto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
How about celebrating Mozart in the matchless city of Bath, England in November?

We’ve left the seaside behind, and after dropping off 2 of our guests at the Naples train station, we’re on our way to Tuscany, passing gently rolling fields on our way to the first stop, Orvieto.07211501 amalfi goodbye hello inlandNo, not quite in Tuscany, but in neighboring Umbria the “Green Heart of Italy”.  A minimum of four hours driving, which is what it takes from Maiori to here, is enough for one day – we’ll complete the journey to Tuscany tomorrow. And of course we’re ALWAYS happy to include hilltop Orvieto in a tour itinerary!  Dropping our bags and the car at the lovely Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini, we begin to show off this marvelous town. 07211501 hours of driving then a tour on footThe glorious Duomo was uncovered when we were here for our New Years Jazz in Italy Tour (which we’re offering again this year – come along!) but once again part of the triptych facade is under restoration – often necessary! We watch workers coming up and down in the bright yellow elevator, 07211501 orvieto duomo was uncovered at ny jazzthen walk over to the nearby cliffside for a breezy view off the side of the pinnacle that is Orvieto. 07211502 breeze and viewA few shops call our name as we walk back to the hotel…one, a high-end clothing boutique, is in a remarkable palazzo. The building’s more gorgeous than the clothes! 07211502 gorgeous palazzo now high end clothesOf course we have to stop at Bartolomei’s in-town shop – remember our trip to their farm in December? The link above tells about that day.07211502 winter to farm summer to shop A tasting, and a tin or two to take home…as usual, our souvenirs of this trip will be edible – we’re getting low on Bartolomei’s superb olive oil and it’s time to restock!
After a rest break in the hotel, it’s time for dinner, and a stroll through the quieting streets as the lowering sun tints the stones in Burnt Umber – so THAT”S where that crayola color came from! 07211503 evening walk to 7 consoliIt’s been a few years since we’ve been in Orvieto in the summer, and we’re eager to enjoy our dinner in the garden – when we’re here for New Year’s Jazz in Italy, it’s WAY too cold to be outside!07211503 garden gazebo dinnerThe multi-course feast at Sette Consoli is, as always, exceptional…07211503 multiple coursesespecially when relished in such a lovely location. 07211503 sunsettingGood night, Orvieto, what a pleasure to see you again!

 

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.

 

Goodbye Amalfi, Hello Orvieto

Goodbye Amalfi, Hello Orvieto

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Orvieto, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!Italic
A few hours drive north, past Rome, and we scale the heights to arrive atop the cliff in the beautiful town of Orvieto.
Aft
er dropping our luggage at Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini, (our room is beside a lovely terrace this time – I think Jill had this room a few years ago!) we walk to Antico Bucchero for lunch.
It just LOOKS different here, no more
bright colored façades, but somber stone.
And tastes different too – no more seafood, but farro (
spelt) risotto with asparagus, drizzled with grassy and peppery olive oil from a nearby village. A world of difference from the Amalfi Coast.
Kirk orders a favorite Tuscan dessert to share: Biscotti Vin Santo, and we tell the story of requesting it for dessert far northwest of here, in San Remo just before the French border, and receiving a scoffing scold “This is not Tuscany!”
Dipping lessons follow
and we all taste the crisp biscotti

(these filled with toasted hazelnuts
rather than almonds – delicious!)

soaked in the sweet golden dessert wine.




As we tour the town, pointing out ancient palazzos, towers, and monuments, snatches of a Bach cello suite draw us around corner after corner

and we find Peter, a New York cellist who spends his summers in favorite spots in Europe, playing his way across the continent.

Orvieto’s stellar sight is the majestic Duomo
(cathedral), a triptych towering high in colorful mosaic, sparkling gold, and intricate carving.

We’re missing those ocean breezes – it’s hot up here on the tufa plateau!
A cafe across the piazza is the perfe
ct spot to cool off with an Aperol Spritz and listen to tales of the Duomo.
Then Kirk takes Steve and Martha inside to see the wonderful carvings and mosaics, and Jacqueline takes me to a jewelry store where she had spied a beautiful ring as we wal
ked by earlier. She had seen one years ago in Capri, the shimmering blue stone reminding her of the surrounding sea, and although it wasn’t available there this year, here is just the perfect ring, in her much-loved town of Orvieto!
It is just gorgeous, and will be such a wonderful reminder of beautiful Italy.

Dinner this evening is a
multi- course feast in
the garden of Sette Consoli.

One after the other, the dishes delight –
and dessert is absolutely plate- scrapingly delicious!