Our first hill town on this trip – the lovely Orvieto. We left Rome via train this morning and arrived here in Umbria just in time for lunch. Getting from the train to the upper town, on top of an ancient volcanic rock, involved a funicular and a small bus.
We haven’t been here for 35 years, but I suspect not much has changed, except us. The cathedral is still astonishingly gorgeous, with its altar-like fascade, which tells you all you need to know about man – from his creation to the Last Judgement.
The interior has a simplicity that is more breath-taking than many baroque palaces. The frescoes and other adornments of the main altar and chapels are incredible examples of 14th century genius.
We walked around the cathedral a bit after lunch. Now this is my idea of what an Italian town should look like.
Don’s Food Corner
Finally. We got to a restaurant recommended by various sources. And, amazingly, it was open!
We knew immediately we were in good hands. However, the entire menu was in Italian. Using our trusty Italian food translation book, we found various dishes we knew we wouldn’t be trying, namely rabbit, pigeon, and beef kidneys.
Instead, our first course was ravioli with truffles. The ravioli was filled with ricotta and a sprinkling of herbs (oregano and basil?). The “sauce” was olive-oil-toasted bread crumbs, garlic and flecks of black truffle in which the ravioli was tossed and heated through. Surprisingly, this is the first time since being in Italy that we detected garlic. In fact, when we were about a half of a block away from the restaurant, we could smell the garlic. That’s fine with me, but Jo is no garlic fan. (When I hear that, I yell: We’re in Italy!)
For our main course, I went with braised cod in a wine sauce with finely slivered fennel and plump raisins. Perfect. Almost sweet. Jo tried a dish of thickly sliced pieces of chicken breast covered in sauce that featured toasted almonds, truffles and onions. Garlic was also present, so I got to finish it off. Again, as far as I was concerned, it was perfect.
We, of course, had a very fine Orvieto white wine to go with it. One of our best meals of the trip.
Oh, and the bread: In this region the bread is made without salt, which made the bread taste both flat and earthy at the same time. Now, I guess we have to add serious regional bread tasting to our gelato tasting obligation.