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.
New Year’s Day, 2013
Orvieto, Monte San Savino and Lucignano, 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
Photographer Bruce has been up before the sun morning after morning, and this first sunrise of 2013 is a magnificent reward for his early risings.
Thank you, Bruce Margolis, for sharing this beauty with us!
The rest of us sleep late after our New Year’s Eve revels, greeting the day more leisurely. We make sure to get up and about in time for one of our favorite Umbria Jazz traditions – the Funk Off gang marching through the streets.
Like the pied piper, the white tuba leads the throngs through Orvieto’s cobbled lanes,
pausing at a little piazza for a lively mini concert.
Palazzo Piccolomini, as usual has been home for quite a few musicians once again this year, such as the band leader, a cool sax player who joined us in the ancient vaulted cellar of the hotel for our late breakfast this morning.
We complete our Umbria Jazz concerts with another special treat, the Giovanni Tommaso reunion quintet. Giovanni, the bassist, and the other four played together for the very first time on this stage in the Palazzo Popolo twenty years ago, for the first Umbria Jazz Winter. They seem to enjoy their reunion as much, if not more, as we in the audience do.
When the sax player, so very cool in his red glasses, says that it feels like they’ve been playing together forever, we all clap in agreement – a terrific ensemble!
Kirk, in his Umbria Jazz Winter shirt, leads us in our own little parade, Funk Off amplified from his iPhone as we strut to lunch.
Cantina Foresi is a tiny fun place beside the cathedral, with a few tables made of stumps,
We grab the last two, and they’re quickly loaded with warming Umbrian delights,
so many that we have to use our laps and legs in addition to the tree stumps.
Then we load up the van, and head north to Monte San Savino, where we’re greeted with a glorious sunset out of our window at the Logge dei Mercanti hotel. What beauty we’ve enjoyed from start to finish of the day!
But there’s more to enjoy, as we wind down from one hilltop town and head for the one next door, Lucignano, still surrounded by a massive stone wall.
Inside the streets spiral upward, connected with lamplit stone arches, to a sweet little church, but what we’re here for is yet one more great dinner, at il Goccino,
and we’re welcomed into a private room, where we begin to peruse the menu.
From one treat to another the meal unfolds – an unusual risotto with foie gras and artichokes is a fabulous combination of tastes and textures,
and even though we’re all already full, we can’t resist the desserts, such as this molten chocolate cake.
Oh my, it’s a good thing we’ll be doing a lot of walking tomorrow!