Day 149 of 400: Bagnoregio, Orvieto and Montefalco – Italy
As we write the blogs…We’re realizing how much wine tasting and drinking we are doing, but isn’t it kind of our duty in these wine regions to test out the local vines? Our morning started with twirling, smelling and sipping red wine at a vineyard on our way to Civita di Bagnoregio.
Civita di Bagnoregio is one of the most picturesque villages in all of Italy. It is straight out of a fairytale. As we drove towards it, we saw a town perched high up on a narrow cliff which had dramatic drop offs on each side. We stopped and took pictures with it in the background, not realizing it was the exact place we were going.
Once we arrived, we had to park and then walk across a super long narrow walkway that bridged this village to the rest of the world. Standing below looking up at this village and walking across to this sort of island was amazing.
Once we walked up the long walkway to the other side, we had to take the many steps up the mountain to enter the village. It was extremely hot and there was the sound of a organ playing classical music. We finally made it to the top and saw the tiny village. There were only a handful of tourists…this was a very local town and the main square was very small in comparison to the other squares we have been seeing in Europe.
We stopped for lunch, sitting on a patio with a ceiling made of a green ivy like plant. We ordered a couple of salads and a plate of fried stuffed zucchini flowers since they were in season. After our light lunch, we walked to the back of the town to see the rest of it. The views were so dramatic…standing high in the sky…looking down into the valley and then to the rest of the countryside, it was like standing inside a postcard.
We walked back through the little streets, down the cliff and over the walkway back to the rest of the world. We wanted to make one more stop in a town close by called Orvieto. We were kind of on a schedule because we were meeting our B&B host and 2 other guests at a winemaker’s vineyard in Montefalco for a private tasting.
Orvieto was a larger city. The entrance had several stairs and escalators through a tunnel under the mountain. Once on top, we walked out of the underground tunnel walkway and we were in the heart of the city. This didn’t feel small-town. We realized we really didn’t have enough time to really see this place. We rushed through the streets, looking at the architecture, people and storefronts. We took some pictures and saw we had to leave that second or we would miss our appointment.
Back in the car, we drove fast on the country roads of course getting stuck behind slow trucks and construction. 15 minutes late, we saw the 3 other people pulling out of the driveway for the private tasting and we quickly turned our car around to follow them to the tasting.
Over hills and around curves, we reached the vineyard. There was a table in the back of the warehouse outside with a few chairs. This was not a formal commercialized tasting, it felt more like a farmer’s barn with the barrels stacked on top of each other and wine bottles boxed all over the place. And that is what made it so special…this was truly one of those unique experiences you get only by knowing a local. They pulled out a bottle of the olive oil grown on the property and drenched the sliced bread in it. They sliced up a piece of local salami and of course several wine bottles lined the table for tasting,
First was the white wine. The wine maker took our glasses and prepared each by pouring a small amount of the wine into the glass, twirling it and pouring it out…then he poured the wine from the bottle into the glass to taste. We tasted a couple of whites and a few reds including a dessert wine in which we were instructed to dip the biscotti into the wine. This was different…usually biscotti is dipped into a hot drink such as coffee but not in the wine world.
It was fun chatting amongst ourselves, tasting and translating from our English to French to Italian. The wine list with pricing was given to us at the end of the tasting, the pricing was reduced because of who we were with and we bought an entire case. This is the type of wine that will someday be much more expensive but for now has the innocence of a wine maker deep in the countryside of Umbria. We took pictures with the group and the winemaker and he added a couple extra bottles of wine as a gift.
We ended the evening in a town close by that had a well-known pizzeria. We ordered a couple pizzas to go as well as a delicious piece of homemade chocolate cake…it was served warm and had a chocolate cream in the center with soft vanilla gelato. Even if I could share a bite with you…I’m not sure that I would. The chef who made it came out and took a picture with us. The dessert did not make it back to our place…we ate it very quickly on the way back.