After spending four days walking around Rome, we were ready for our next Italian adventure. We had a couple choices for places to visit on our way to Florence, but our group decided on visiting the small mountain town Orvieto. Our guide made it seem like the town was relatively remote and I was looking forward to getting away from tourists and big crowds. Unfortunately, this little village has turned into a tourist destination with large groups going through for day trips and shops that sold all types of lame products. That said, we managed to successfully avoid the olive tree kitchen ware, t-shirt stands and jewelry shops and enjoy ourselves.
Cantina Foresi. We arrived early in the afternoon and had to wait for about 45 minutes for our cave tour to start, so we visited a cafe close by to kill the time. Our tour guide recommended the spot for a good cup of cappuccino and wanted us to see the restaurants private wine cellar. The cappuccino was good but tasted the same as every other cup we had on our entire trip, it was a nice way to start the morning and a tradition I’d like to continue. However, the star of this cafe was the awesome wine cellar, which we were able to visit with our guide who knew the owners of the cafe. Apparently every house and restaurant in Orvieto has their own wine cellar, surrounded by gigantic vats of wine (and vinegar). It was pretty neat.
Dai Featelli. We still had time to kill before our underground tour and decided to take a walk around the streets of Orvieto. Ignoring all of the cute touristy shops we came across Dai Featelli (at least I think that’s the name). The window of cured meats called our names and when we walked into the little deli, the smell of meat was overwhelming (in a good way). The shop owner barely spoke English but I pointed to a plate of sliced goodness and he just started to pile it onto a scale. The selection included a pretty wide range of cured meats; several types of salumi, prosciutto and a lot of boar (which he was excited for me to try). Everything we tried had a really intense flavor and the entire pile cost a total of 4 euros. My father in law enjoyed the spicy salumi so much that he asked me to show him the shop and he got his own package for another 4 euro.
Enoteca Vini Nazionali. After our underground tour, our guide set us up with his favorite restaurant in Orvieto and emphasized that it was a ‘locals’ place and had really good food. The restaurant definitely seemed like a restaurant that locals actually ate at; when we were there for an early lunch the other customers were all speaking in Italian and seemed to know the owner. We didn’t order from the menu, we simply told our server that we wanted a light lunch. We ordered a bottle of red wine that was locally produced and it was enjoyable, unfortunately we later found out that the Orvieto area is known for their white wine. Our group of seven was served two large plates of meats and cheeses and some crostini covered in tomatoes and black truffle spread. The entire table seemed to really enjoy everything, the meats were fresh sliced and had a nice selection of prosciutto, salumi and ham. They provided some onion and apricot jam on the side and combined with the hard cheeses, it really hit the spot. The crostini was good as well; the tomatoes were very ripe and the black truffles had an almost overwhelming flavor. If we were wine aficionado’s, we probably would have enjoyed the restaurant even more, considering their impressive wine selection that surrounded us (see above).
We were only in Orvieto for a couple hours but we had a really nice time walking around this tiny village, looking at the rolling country from the hillside and checking out their underground caves. If you have an opportunity to visit the town while traveling from one destination to another, it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon. Even with it’s touristy vibe, it has it’s positives. Just don’t expect that you’ll be escaping from the tour groups, annoying shops and restaurants that advertise crappy pizza and spaghetti.