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.First we walk through the museum, featuring photos and implements used by several generations of the family,then we enjoy a tasting of their new olive oil, pressed earlier in the month. For 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.Russ 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.Cynthia Bland and the Road Home Band keep things hoppingduring our lunch at Al San Francesco.Lorri and I join her for a photo after the concert,and then talk with Lawrence, the pianist we heard yesterday with the Love Supreme commemorative concert – yes, his fingers are definitely longer than mine!One 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.So Kirk’s appreciative audience has increased, and he enjoys showing off this towering beauty,and the powerful frescoes of Signorelli, which impressed and influenced Michelangelo centuries ago.By 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. Oh they are just gorgeous, but we’ll have to continue to enjoy just looking 😉
We walk back to the hotel, joining the evening passeggiata,then through Piazza Republicca, from where a Christmas market spreads through the lanes,with a copper vat of steaming Vin Brulé under the tree.Russ 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. 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.Anyone 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, first Omar Sosa on piano and Paolo Fresu on trumpet,then Davell Crawford and Jon Batiste on two long grand pianos…the music goes on past midnight! That’s Umbria Jazz for you!One 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.