Kristi and I schedule our trips in May and September/October – the shoulder seasons. We do so because the weather is typically wonderful and mild, and because there are fewer tourist crowds. More tourists are traveling later and later into the seasons, but it still offers the best experience.
This fall we led our Taste of Orvieto trip which has to be scheduled late in October or early in November to be able to take advantage of the chance to pick olives. Olives in Umbria
aren’t ready to pick until at least late October. On our Taste trip we pick olives at Bartolomei, take them to their presses, and watch as they are pressed into the most sublime oil that each of
the members of our trip then take home with them. The day was crystal clear, warmed nicely, and we dined on a delicious late lunch as our olives were processed into oil. We were in Orvieto all the way until October 28 this year.
As we deepened into October the weather cooled and we added layers of clothing. The days were typically brilliant and deliciously warm. The nights were brisk bringing the rose to our cheeks. The crowds thinned in the streets, and we enjoyed the camaraderie of all our Orvietani friends in a more relaxed way as they began to settle in to the quieter months. The menus changed reflecting the season. More soups appeared. Pumpkin, and squash and chestnut dishes showed up on menus. It is a delightful time of the year.
We cooked with our dear friend Simona. The warm days let us eat our feast out on her patio enjoying the ambiance, the views up to the town of Allerona, the exquisite Umbrian countryside.
Of course we cooked seasonally with an incredible pumpkin sauce for the pasta we made. Simona is the queen of starters which we savored.
Two years ago on our Taste trip we were witness to the first stage of the fruition of a dream of Giovanni Dubini, the talented owner and wine maker at Palazzone. He wanted to return to the traditional way of making wine – all the grapes mixed together in chestnut barrels native to the area, fermented in an open barrel with only the natural yeast of the grapes to ferment the must, and then aged in the Etruscan cave of his hillside. This is precisely how it used to be done.
This year we were the very first people to taste the just released wine. And we did it in the Etruscan cave where it had been aged. It was fantastic. On the cork, dated and sealed with
wax, he had this beautiful inscription in both Italian and English, “Thus was I born by the desire of those who with care, and understanding, and the tools of old, wish to nurture the retelling of a timeless story.” Isabella Costantino, Giovanni’s right had woman translated the text so beautifully.
Another brilliant day this late fall at Palazzone, our last with the group. And we were treated to exquisite colors and views from high atop the hillside where the cave is located.
Kristi and Bill Steiner began leading “learning vacations” to Orvieto, Italy in 2003. Through Adventures in Italy they provide a cultural immersion experience. Many trips include the pursuit of some kind of creative work that complements and reinforces exploration of Italy’s culture. Relationships built over the years enable Kristi and Bill to provide experiences that a typical visitor to Orvieto never gets.
Learn more about Kristi and Bill’s trips. Stay abreast of Adventures in Italy developments, and follow Bill’s musings about travel and Italy on his blog Make Haste Slowly. View Bill’s photos of Italy, Orvieto, and other memorable places at steinerstudiophotos.com, and follow him on Instagram.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.