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.
Published by Brandey Kabat
What I like: Dark chocolate, yoga, fresh squeezed juice, laughing, hiking, wine, travel, food, lush products, being warm, having long hair, the ritual of drinking something hot first thing in the morning…
What I don’t like: When people smell their fingers, pushing elevator buttons, confrontational situations, not being able to fall asleep quickly at bedtime…
Most random job ever: Plastic surgery consultant
As for my love life: I met my husband mid way through my junior year in college, as soon as I laid my eyes on him I was attracted to him. In fact, I made the first move which was a bit out of character but there was something about him…probably the fact that he was smokin’ hot!!
Where from and where to: I grew up in NY, went to college at The Ohio State University and then headed to CA after graduation. My boyfriend (Giff) and I had a map, a borrowed van and used stuff from his mom’s basement aka a vacuum, silverware, old Christmas ornaments etc., and about $1000 each. We thought it would be a good idea to head straight to CA since neither of us had been. Being we didn’t know anyone there nor did we have a job or job interviews set up or a place to live…I would say we did it the hard way! However with a bit of help from Giff’s mom who flew out to put us up in a hotel, bought me a suit for interviewing and co-signed a lease to get us a place to live we eventually found jobs and an apartment and have been in CA for 10 years.
Our story: After moving out to CA and living together for about 3 years we got engaged. He popped the question while down on one knee on the beach at sunset after we finished our picnic he had packed of bread, cheese, shrimp cocktail and wine. He even had the ring in a box that had a light shining down on it when opened so as it was getting dark, this amazing man was asking me to be his wife as he handed me a huge rock…Yes! Yes! Yes!
In 2005 we were married (I am biased but our wedding was absolutely amazing). By the end of 2005 we were new home owners. 2006-2009- we were both happily married, attached to our 3 cats and were focused on building our careers.
Giff and I got pregnant mid year 2009 with our first baby but what should have been one of the highlights of our life was soon distracted by the news I received at the doctor’s office.
The lump in my breast that had been dismissed the year before as nothing was now being diagnosed by a different doctor as breast cancer. Thankfully Giff is a persistent person and when we went in for our ultrasound (to hear our baby’s heartbeat) he brought up the request for testing to be done on the lump rather than dismissing it based on feeling it.
The going gets rough: Things began to move so quickly at that point, it was hard to breathe. I was 30, pregnant with my first child and going into surgery to remove breast cancer. I was about to go through what would be the worst year of my life. The plan had been discussed, we were going with the most aggressive regimen possible- double mastectomy, port surgically placed in my chest, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation. We also had to terminate the pregnancy. This cancer was estrogen positive and the hormones were actually feeding the cancer. That little angel whom was the cause of our going into the doctor saved my life.
Giff was my rock through every step…interviewing a team of the best doctors, memorizing which medicines I needed to take and when, driving me to chemotherapy and sitting next to me while I was so scared, telling me I was beautiful when I was bald, and so many other things…words cannot express. When you say your vows, in sickness and in health…you would never guess sickness of this magnitude at this age would be in the near future. In addition to this hardship, Giff’s dad died of a complicated prostate cancer the day we came home from my surgery. I could not hold my husband as he mourned for his dad because of the pain I was in from the mastectomy. How did Giff handle all of this pain at one time? How was he so strong for me? He is amazing. Giff’s dad was one of those people whom you naturally wanted to be around…his smile was contagious, his love for life was invigorating and he listened so intently when you talked in a conversation with him. He made you feel special. We think about him often and will miss him so much.
My family and friends were also by my side…my mom flying out from NY several times to help us with cooking and cleaning and holding my hand. It must be one of the most awful things in the world to watch your baby girl be diagnosed with breast cancer. My girlfriends also flew out to take care of me and help with anything they could. Other friends living closer would come by just to sit and talk or watch movies. There were so many cards, letters, flowers, cookies, and other gifts that came from all over the country. It’s amazing to have such great people in my life. In addition to my amazing circle of friends and family, there were the strangers with whom crossed our path. Whether it was a letter in the mail from a breast cancer survivor, the anesthesiologist who called Giff during my surgery crying happy tears that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes, or our fertility doctor who promised to watch over our frozen embryos as if they were her own. There were so many small gestures that made such a big impact on our lives.
Looking at the bright side: Thankfully this was caught in stage 1, had it been caught a year prior by the first doctor I had gone into about the lump, it may have been caught at stage 0. Please learn from my lesson…insist the lump be tested – a lump cannot be diagnosed by touch. They were able to cut all the cancer out and after I finish the entire regimen including a pill I take over the next 5 years, they said there is a 95% chance the cancer will never come back.
Our exciting future: We’ve decided to re-prioritize, we are taking 400 days starting February 7th of 2011 to travel the world! We will travel to new places, eat new foods, taste new wines and meet new people. We will focus on healing ourselves both physically and mentally. This will be one of the best years of our lives.
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3 Replies to “Day 149 of 400: Bagnoregio, Orvieto and Montefalco – Italy”
I realized quite awhile ago how much you guys are drinking. I fear you will have to open a wine tasting bar as your livelihood just to afford your habit !!!
Surely you would share that chocolate cake with me !!!
2 comments – amazing how much pizza one can eat while in italy and never get sick of it and second, love the pics of giff in the field of sunflowers…it’s almost like he was superimposed in them… love it…smily giff sprouting up like all the happy sunflowers 🙂