Orvieto, Umbria, Italy, Thursday, October 4, 2012
We get up pretty early as the last bus in the morning for Bagnoregio leaves at 0750. We walk down to the bus station and I ask a driver where the bus for Bagnoregio departs and he points to an area across the street. We go there to wait and two buses pull up both with Bagnoregio signs on them. I ask one driver and he says this is not the bus but to wait and he will take care of us. He. Says something to the other driver and points to his bus but when I ask that driver he says no, five minutes, and walks away. The original driver tells me in Italian that the other guy is crazy, just wait here. While we wait a couple comes up asking like we did so I tell them I think this is the bus to Civita but the driver will help us. As we wait, the nice bus driver gets off the bus and makes a call, then walks us down to the right bus. I thank him and tell him he is very kind in Italian, which I can see he appreciated. We confirm with the driver that we are indeed on the right bus and away we go. It is a pleasant drive through some rolling countryside and after about 50 minutes we reach Bagnoregio.
There is a shuttle bus to the bridge to Civita but we decide to walk. Carol is feeling much better and the way is mostly level. As we are walking down the road, the small shuttle bus goes by and the other couple from Orvieto wave to us.
The town of Bagnoregio is quiet and we soon come to a viewpoint looking over at Civita Di Bagnoregio. This old part of town at one point was connected to Bagnoregio but the cliffs are eroding and the path between the two went with it. The old donkey path and bridge was bombed in WWII and the new footbridge was built in 1966. The weather is a mix of clouds, sun, and fog makes for a wonderful medieval view. It kind of enhances the beauty of this dying town.
We walk further until we come to the base of the bridge and start to walk across. The way the town sits makes for an amazing view as we get closer to the town gate. The arch here was on the main Etruscan road leading to the Tiber valley and Rome and was cut around 500BC. As we walk into town, there is the front of an old palace. Just the facade stands as the rest disappeared with the cliff due to erosion. We also see the couple from the bus sitting at a small cafe drinking Cappucino. We start to talk and they invite us to join them. Alan and Kay are from New Zealand and are on holiday for a month. We immediately hit it off and talk about our travels and family learning a bit about each other. We sit and chat for almost two hours before we head out to see the small town.
We visit the town square and church which is on the spot of former Etruscan and roman temples. There is an alter here to a former Bishop, St. Marlonbrando which I only mention because of the name. There is also a small fresco of the Madonna of the earthquake because in 1695 an earthquake shook off the whitewash on the wall and revealed this fresco. From here we wander and at an invitation from Maria walk into her garden. She is the last native Civitan, even though she no longer lives here full time. Her husband and her used to carry goods between the two towns by donkey 40 times a day. The gardens are ok and the view is very good. When we exit I give her the last change we have, and she wants more. So now she is known to us as Maria the extortionist. It was very amusing.
We walk around to some old caves and then head back to catch the bus in Civita. At the bottom o f the bridge, Alan and Kay are waiting for the shuttle but we are walking. They pass us by on the road again and when I wave, the driver stops thinking we want the bus. They straighten him out and the bus takes off. When we reach the bus station, we sit and talk some more and then sit next to them on the bus. They are really nice people with interesting life experiences behind them. Alan worked and they lived in Namibia in a town in the middle of the desert for several years. He also traveled through Europe as a young man with some of his mates and they have a reunion of sorts every year. The bus ride goes fast because of the conversation and they jump off at the train station to check on their next destination, while we continue up to the top of town.
We get off the bus and are hungry so we walk a short distance and get some paninos of eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella as well as a coke zero for Carols belly. We then walk the short distance to St. Patrick’s Well. The well is 175 feet deep and 45 feet wide and was also ordered built by the Pope after he fled here when Rome was sacked in 1527. It took 10 years to complete and has a double helix design which allowed one way traffic both up and down. Donkeys and people could walk down, cross a bridge at the bottom, and come up, without bumping into each other. It is really quite a feat of engineering and of course we walk all the way down and back up without retracing one single step.
We move on to the town tower where we climb it just because we can and it is included in the pass we bought. There are nice views of the town and surrounding country and a wonderful cool breeze.
We head back to the room to rest and decide on a place to celebrate Carol’s birthday. We choose the number one rated restaurant in Trip Advisor which just happens to have The name of Osteria Número Uno.
It is only a 2 minute walk from our BNB well off the tourist trail. While we are looking over the menu, the owner and chef, Angelo, comes out and introduces himself and apologizes that his English is not better. It is actually very good. Seeing him and hearing his name makes me think of my good friend, Angelo, who died way too young but loved to cook and serve people after he retired from the FAA. Rest in peace my friend.
We decide to get the 4 course meal, especially after I ask if they could substitute the sausage with wild boar stew, offering to pay the difference in the dishes. The waitress says no, but than goes to ask Angelo and comes back and says alright. We also order a second pasta dish, umbrichelli ( the local fresh pasta) with truffles. We order a bottle of white wine but the waitress says the 4 course meal comes with a glass of red wine. We still want the white for Carol, expecting just a small glass of red.
The meal starts off with complimentary crostini with olive oil and two slices of local salami. At first we think this is the fantasy bruschetta that was advertised with the four course and look at it a little funny. But it is just a prelude to a great meal. The fantasy bruschetta comes next and is a large platter of very tasty bruschetta, and local meats. She brings the red wine and two glasses but Carol waves her off as she is going to drink the white. My large wine glass is filled almost to the brim. We finish off the bruschetta and realize that the waitress must have gotten confused about us still wanting white wine so we order a half liter of the house white wine for Carol. I think there is almost a half liter of very good red wine in my glass.
Next comes our two pasta dishes, umbrichelli with spinach, pancetta, and cheese and the umbrichelli with truffles. The truffle dish is loaded with shaved truffles on top. They are both incredible and we can’t believe how much truffles they put on top of the pasta and in the butter and olive oil sauce. This is bad as now we will want truffles and they are too pricey in the U.S. The wild boar stew in red wine and herbs is also very good. Lastly, we finish off the meal with homemade tiramisu. It is so good, light, airy, full of flavor and a great way to finish this wonderful meal. We also run into Alan and Kay as they eat in the same place, and chat some more. They are going to Casino but will be in Sorrento the same time as us so we may see them again.
When we go to pay, we talk some with Angelo, telling him how much we enjoyed the food. I tell him my mom was a great cook and this is as good or maybe even better than her cooking. When I say my heritage is Italian and where my grandparents came from, he says he is from Palermo, Sicily. So I ask him if he moved here for work or love. It was love, his wife is from here and told him he had to move to Orvieto, so here he is. Lucky for us! He gives us a free small bottle of the extra virgin olive oil they use. It was just an all around, nice dining experience. He did not even charge us any extra for the switched entree and there is no cover charge here, so all totaled it was a great deal too.
We make the short walk back home before we realize that we spent almost three hours at dinner. Way to savor a meal. When we get to the room, I see my brother tried to FaceTime me, so we ring back and get to talk with him and his wife. That was very nice but we will pay for it tomorrow as we have to catch a 0650 bus to the train station and it is now 1130. So, a good Night has to end.
“Experiencing new flavors and tastes should be part of every travelers journey” – Charlie
8.80E- RT bus tickets to Bagnoregio
1.50E- Cappucino in Civita
8E- 2 eggplant, mozzarella, folded Torta, and a coke from Idea Pizza
45E- pasta with truffles, bruschetta, pasta, wild boar, large glass of red wine, tiramisu, mezzo litro white wine. No coperto Great meal! At Número Uno
Miles Walked- 7.8 Miles