Orvieto is probably the most beautiful Umbrian city and, as we were to find out from our anthropologist dinner companion, it was also the most important centre of the Etruscan civilization and the last to resist to the Roman Empire`s attacks before being conquered by it.
The Dome of Orvieto is particularly impressive and it was beautifully shining in the sun when we saw it. The people walking the city`s streets, peaceful and bohemian, reminded me of the people in Sighisoara, Transylvania. I was also delighted by the Orvietan ceramics, with their bright colours and beautiful patterns, but decided not spend 80 Euro for a decorative plate (yes, it was that expensive!) and risk that it might break on the way back to Amsterdam.
Orvieto was actually the only city we returned to for a second visit during our stay in Italy, this is how much we liked it. It`s the best place in Umbria to buy good local wine and, in general, it doesn`t seem to miss anything. The small artisanal shops coexist with the bigger chain stores and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from if interested.
But the real reason we returned was a food store that we had been to on our first visit and where you could find all the local goodies, from pecorino and parmigiano cheese and meat specialties such as cinghiale (wild pig) salami and porchetta to locally made biscotti, olive oil and jams. We simply loved the place, especially because of the woman who was selling there, one of the best sales person we have ever met.
The second time we stepped into her shop, we bought cheese, salami and biscotti, but we were not totally sure if we also wanted to get some porchetta. Although she was not speaking English (and we were not bright Italian speakers either), she realized we were hesitating. When it became clear we are not getting the porchetta, with the most honest surprise on her face and also in the tone of her voice, she exclaimed: “Ma è buoooono!” (but it`s gooood!) She simply could not understand, nor accept that somebody – anybody – could refuse themselves some Umbrian porchetta. So we bought a piece in the end. 🙂
The woman then told us, in Italian, that she was 86 years old and had been working in that shop for 65 years. I did not seem to understand the exact figures the first time, so she repeated, in the same Italian just that a bit louder, until we got it correctly. She probably realized we understood the moment she could read the big surprise on our faces.
I have no photos with the shop and the woman, but here are some others of beautiful Orvieto: