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.
Wednesday, 1 January 2015
Orvieto, Italy to Tuscany
A lazy start to 2015 after our late night…we wander down to breakfast, through Palazzo Piccolomini’s simply elegant sitting room,and join a few late-rising musicians for coffee in the vaulted basement. Look through those alcoves in the wall to earlier centuries, remnants of Etruscan civilization over which the papal palace (Piccolomini was Pius II) was built.We’ll squeeze in one more concert, Davell Crawford, whom we heard a couple of nights ago in duet with Jon Batiste. Today it’s just him on the billing, but he calls up several friends throughout the hour – one guy on a harmonica, a seasoned gospel sister on vocals – as he keeps our toes tapping with classic jazz, rhythm and blues, pop and funk. In exuberant style, he mixes the music with heartfelt tales – of last night’s New Year’s phone call from godmother Roberta Flack, before sharing his memorable take on “The First Time”. What a superb way to kick off the New Year!Before packing up and getting on the road we stop for a quick lunch at Cantina Foresi, beside the Duomo. Alessandro carries on the fine family tradition (the cantina was started by his grandfather in the ’50s) with a warm welcome and platters of delicious Umbrian salumi to go with steaming bowls of minestrone.As we walk back to the hotel, jazz drifts through the doors of one café after another,and we stop at Bartolomei’s shop for our olive oil – yes, we can fit a bit more in our suitcases!We arrive at our next hilltown, Monte San Savino, with time to check in to lovely little Logge dei Mercanti, settle into our rooms, and take in the sunset from our windows.Dinner takes us through the impressive portal of another tiny hill town, Lucignano. We explore a bit, wandering the steep streets of this snail-shaped charmer,and then continue our Italian feasting at Il Goccino. A WOW of a meal, from the smoked goose breast and foie gras,to a “Chocolate Pearl” that melts when our waiter pours on the hot raspberry soup. Oh we eat SO well out in the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside!
Back to “our” hilltown – Buona Notte Monte San Savino, it’s nice to be back!
December 30, 2012
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!)
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
A few hours drive north, past Rome, and we scale the heights to arrive atop the cliff in the beautiful town of Orvieto.
After 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 perfect 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 walked 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!