So, here are the shots on our day driving from Siena to the Umbrian town of Orvieto. You'll notice that I had a little fun with some of the hotel photos. The lighting was odd and kept getting washed out...so I just had fun with them.
Another sunny morning in Siena. Said our goodbyes to Daniella. (She informed us that her contrada/neighborhood was one of the ones selected for the Palio in the ceremony the evening we arrived...hoorah!) Shut the heavy door of the Palazzo Masi and headed for the car.
Took a winding path south and east. Crossed from Tuscany to Umbria. Emily got confused finding our destination...but then that is becoming a familiar theme...Italy clearly isn't her home turf. In fairness, our destination was on a dirt road in the middle of a field. And is it all that bad to take an extra road or two in Italy?
Arrived at the picturesque Locanda Palazzone...an "agriturismo" style of hotel. The Locanda is a small boutique hotel located on a working vineyard. Situated high on a hillside outside of Orvieto with sweeping views of the grape vines, grassy hills, outcroppings of ancient tufa, and of course, majestic Orvieto perched 1000 feet above the valley floor.
Drove into Orvieto for an afternoon walk. Visited its grand Duomo, similar in exterior style to Siena's Duomo. Inside, a choir was rehearsing a capella. A very beautiful cathedral indeed. Later we heard evening vesper chants in the side chapel.
Peeked into several of Orvieto's ceramic shops. Colorful designs of bright yellows and blues. Walked along the high city perch to a commanding medieval fortress ruin and an ancient Etruscan temple ruin (from around 500 B.C. if I read the sign right). In fact, the soft volcanic tufu beneath Orvieto is riddled with Etruscan tombs and tunnels...hopefully we'll see those tomorrow.
The sun was low when we returned to the hotel. Everything looked extra green. Jeff took an early evening dip in a VERY cold pool...I dangled my feet in. An amazingly fresh and flavorful dinner on the hotel terrace overlooking the valley and Orvieto. Just us and a French couple...it felt like we had the world to ourselves. Our host (also the "innkeeper") recommended a white wine from the Palazzone vineyard...2002 Campo del Guardiana very rich golden color and a flavor to match. Dinner was a fixed menu...which meant we could sit back and relax. Flan di piselli al profumo di maggiorana...a warm flan made from peas (perhaps?) with fresh salad greens. Umbrichelli all'orvietana...a super-flavorful, thick tomato and herb sauce over a long lumpy pasta...amazing. Bascala pomodorini e olive con spinaci e patate arrosto...a light white fish with a delightful seasoning and sides of potatoes and spinach...both wonderful. Muosse al cioccolato...uh...chocolate mousse :)
We finished the meal with espressos. A kitten named Daphne wanted to play as the warm evening breeze turned the table cloth into a tempting cat toy. Darkness settled around us. We could see Orvieto's Duomo lit up hovering in the sky.
Something tells me we will sleep well tonight.