Thursday 10th November
Apologies for how late this blog is, I managed to break my MiFi dongle and have had to wait until we could go shopping for a new one.
Lucy planned the menus this week, hence the title. How often do you get pasta or rice each week? I let Lucy organise the menu this week and I know it isn’t easy to come up with something new every day but we do have 24 cookbooks to choose from. Anyway, Lucy’s menu consists of four pasta dishes and five rice dishes. “What’s for dinner love, pasta or rice?”, “you had pasta last night so it must be rice”. Back to normal next week when I organise the menu and we have something different everyday – pork curry, chicken curry, beef curry, lamb curry, veggie curry…
We had a walk round the bottom of Orvieto, found a supermarket and Lucy bought me some Cornetttos.
I left you last time telling you about my lovely bottle of Orvieto Classico for (don’t tell Lucy (€12)). Today we went into Orvieto (by funicular railway) and found a box of three bottles for €12.50, exactly the same stuff – have I been ripped off or what?
Orvieto sits on top of a volcanic plug which makes it very easy to defend against invaders, a 1066 feet high sheer cliffed mesa, the town itself looks just as it did 500 years ago. The Etruscans originally founded it but after many battles the Romans eventually managed to conquer it in 280BC. Orvieto was especially important in the Middle Ages as a stronghold of the Papal States – primarily for Popes who could take refuge here after upsetting the people.
One of the many alleyways with cross arches which look like the buildings are helping to support each other.
This is why so many visitors visit Orvieto, the Duomo. In 1260 a priest called Peter was vistiing Bolsena, just down the road from here, when he witnessed a miracle which was the start of the Feast of Corpus Christi. The first stone was laid in 1290 and eventually finished in 1617. It’s only when you start to look closely at the facade that you start to realise why it took so long to construct.
There is so much detail here, I have done my best to zoom in on relevant bits.
Highly detailed mosaics high above ground level, this must be 60 feet above ground level.
This is above one of the doors.
Just look at the stone work here…
… and here. There are four large panels like this near to ground level.
All the columns are decorated with mosaics, we’ve not seen anything like this before.
But inside it was pretty plain. This is a sneaky photo of the insides just before we got to the pay desk and realised that we really didn’t want to see the bloodstained alter cloth for €4 each.
The views from the top were pretty spectacular and we were going to stay another night but we felt that the sosta had ripped us off with the wine and there are other places to go!
This is more like my type of wine. €3 in Lidls and it contains 1.5 litres of drinkable plonk.
After lunch we headed off to Montalcino which is in Tuscany. Almost immediately the roads got better, the scenery got more interesting and today I have said hello to half a dozen locals. This is part of the road up to the sosta, just a gentle hill for Frankie now who is starting to get used to us going to silly places. Uniquely (to us) the sosta is located high above the town.
And it contained the first British van we have seen on a sosta in the last month. The neighbours were out when we arrived and when they got back it was freezing cold and dark so we left them to their own devices.
Next morning the sun was shining and we had a chat. John and Ingrid being just as silly as us but in a brand new Cathago. We swapped some tips and some tall stories and went our separate ways.
Thursday morning we walked down into town. Again this is another hill top (mountain top) village, this one was very well defended and when Siena fell in 1552 some escaped to Montalcino and resisted attacks from the minions of Spain and the Medici.
This is my type of wine – not. Our guide books say it is very good, but then it should be at that price and after 30 years of my taste buds being destroyed by Lucy’s cooking how am I going to know if it is any good? We were tempted by a lunchtime menu which included three glasses of wine, local meats and cheeses but resisted the urge.
One of the cypresses that we’ve seen today with vineyards and olive trees in the background. This is what I imagined Italy to be like and it is easy to see why so many people love this area. We were planning on spending another night at Montalcino but the town itself didn’t hold our attention for long and after lunch we decided to move on – we need some gas soon because last night was a bit chilly. Unfortunately we didn’t get any gas because – its siesta time!!