After Venice, our next stop was the Italian countryside of Umbria. Known for its green countryside, olive oils, wines and black truffles, Umbria is a fantastic place to spend some time hopping from town to town sampling the delicious offerings. That is just what we did! During our wanderings, we found two very special places worth raving about.. Orvieto and Cvita de Bagnoregio.
Orvieto is located in southwest Umbria between Florence and Rome. It is known for its wonderful white wines, majestic cathedral, and meandering Etruscan caves running under the city. Located high up on a mass of volcanic rock, the views from Orvieto are amazing. We found a cozy little wine shop/cave named Cantina Foresi that was right on the main square dominated by the Duomo di Orvieto. We huddled inside this little cave and treated ourselves to a delicious bottle of Umbrian Sangiovese. It didn’t matter that it was only 10:00 a.m.! Warmed up by the wine, we ventured out to marvel at the beauty of the Duomo. It was one of the most ornate churches we have ever seen. We also enjoyed strolling through the medieval cobblestone streets and window shopping and partaking in more wine.
The second highlight of our Umbrian visit was Civita di Bagnoregio. Founded over 1250 years ago by Etruscans, Civita is known as the “Dying City” as over the years earthquakes and erosion have hampered its development and made accessing it more difficult. It is perched high atop a volcanic mountain overlooking the Tiber River valley. As more and more of the city crumbles away, some residences seem to be teetering on a precipice awaiting their turn down the mountain. But the wine still flows! And the tiny population (sometime as few as 15 full time residents) is welcoming to visitors. We arrived at Civita in the midst of a hail storm making the steep climb up the narrow stone walkway seem quite daunting. As that is the only way to access the city, we charged on with heads down against the cold and hail. Arriving at the top made us see that the climb was definitely worth the effort. It is a city preserved in time with few modern trappings. We settled in for one of the best meals we have ever had and of course more Umbrian Sangiovese! Bella Italia!