Orvieto, Italy

After leaving Venice we wanted to visit Rome and Florence, but we didn’t particularly want to stay in either of those places because they are cities and really all cities are kind of the same.  We wanted to be someone a bit more relaxing.  I did some research (and got some great advice from my cousin, Ginny, who lives in Germany) and found that if you stayed in a town with a train station, you could take day trips into Rome and Florence.  I browsed our Rick Steves Italy book and I came upon the town of Orvieto.  We knew nothing about it other than what Rick Steves said, but it sounded like a picturesque ancient town in the Umbria region of Italy.  We booked reservations at a hotel that was recommended in the book and pointed the car in that direction.  The lower part of Orvieto is the new section and the upper part is the ancient section.  We were staying in the ancient section.  To get there you have to drive up a mountain.  The ancient part of the town is basically a fortress- it’s surrounded by a wall.  It is absolutely breathtaking!  As we drove around trying to find our hotel we were speechless.  I have never seen such a cute, rustic town!  The streets were all cobblestone and there were arches and stone buildings.  People still live and work in Orvieto and there are a lot of businesses there.  We checked into our hotel and set out to explore the town.

We found an interesting restaurant that we wanted to try for dinner.  It was called Zeppelin.  We went in and talked to the young man at the bar (he was also the host) and he said they wouldn’t be serving dinner for 1/2 hour because the chef was teaching a cooking class. We said we’d didn’t mind waiting.  The host asked if we wanted to go back to the kitchen and meet Chef Lorenzo.  Of course we did!  He took us back to the kitchen and introduced us to Lorenzo.  There were a bunch of people there with him finishing up their cooking class.  They all looked like they were having a great time (and like maybe the wine had been flowing for a while!)  During the year that we’d been planning this trip, Lori and I  talked often about the possibility of taking a cooking class in Italy. Hearing about Chef Lorenzo’s class and then seeing it with our own eyes got us really excited!  I think we decided right there that we were going to take the class.

We had a fantastic dinner at Zeppelin.  We sat outside in the back yard and enjoyed some of Orvieto’s local white wine.  We asked for more information on the cooking class.  He asked how long we were going to be in Orvieto and we told him we were flexible.  He said that if we could go to the class on Thursday that was the most fun because Thursday is Farmer’s Market day in Orvieto.  We signed up for the Thursday class and he told us to be there at 8:30 a.m.

On Wednesday we took the train into Rome.  It was about an hour and 15 minute ride.  We saw all the major sights in Rome – the Coliseum, the Sistine Chapel,  and St. Peter’s Cathedral.   Rome is a city –  it’s crowded and very touristy.  There are a lot of really fascinating historical sights and it’s exciting being there.  Every direction you look you see the ancient mixed with modern.  But it’s a city and it wears you out!  We got back on the train and went back to Orvieto.  When we got off the train Lori said “Oh, it’s good to be home!” That’s really what it felt like!  Orvieto was so quiet and low key, it was relaxing just being there!

On Thursday morning Lori and I walked over to Zeppelin to meet Chef Lorenzo for our class.  The plan was for the guys to  laundry to  do our laundry at the laundromat in town because we were all out of clean clothes.  They were then going to come to the restaurant to have lunch with us.  We met Lorenzo and he offered us coffee.  He then told us to wait just a minute and left.  He came back a few minutes later with a big plate of pastries. We enjoyed our coffee while he took care of some restaurant business, then it was time to set out for the Farmer’s Market. Most of the vendors at the market know Lorenzo really well.  As we walked from booth to booth they all greeted him and offered us samples of their wares.  As we walked around and picked out different foods Lorenzo started building our menu.  We bought some beautiful arugula, fresh peaches, toasted hazelnuts (they offered ‘toasted 1’- barely toasted,  and ‘toasted 2’ – more toasted, and we chose #2 for our hazelnut gelato) tomatoes, peppers, and a few different kinds of cheese.  We returned to the restaurant, put on our Zeppelin aprons (which we got to keep as a souvenir) and started cooking!

Our menu:  Focaccia



Zucchini Blossoms

Fresh green pasta w/sauce

Pork stew

Hazelnut Gelato

Chef Lorenzo was a lot of fun and a really good teacher.  I think the highlight for me was learning to make pasta.  I have always wanted to make my own pasta, but thought it was too complicated and that I needed a machine to do it.  It was actually really easy!  We started with a basic dough.  You put all the dry ingredients on a board, make a well in the center, then put the wet ingredients (eggs and water) into the well.  You slowly start incorporating the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a fork.  Slowly but surely they combine and form a dough.  You roll it out in a very particular way.  You roll it into a rectangle, then you turn the rectangle 1/4 turn and roll it in that direction.  You keep turning the dough and rolling it until it is very, very thin.  (Mine wasn’t nearly as thin as Lorenzo’s) After letting it rest for seven minutes you fold the dough into fourths, then you cut it into strips. The pasta we saw the most in Italy was Tagliatelle – which is thicker that spaghetti and thinner than linguine.  That is what we made.  We just used a knife and cut the dough into thin strips.  (We made our pasta green by using some sort of leafy green- I can’t remember what it was – we just pulsed it in the food processor with the water and used that to make the pasta) We cooked and drank sparkling wine and coffee and laughed and had a really nice day.  When our husbands arrived we all sat down at a table and the food we had cooked was served to us, presented beautifully.  It was all so delicious!  I have never eaten so much in my entire life!  We ended up with two different desserts and two different kinds of bread because Lorenzo kept getting creative and thinking of more stuff to make.  We definitely had a day that we’ll remember forever!


2 Responses to “Orvieto, Italy”

  1. 1 Joni Judge September 27, 2012 at 2:36 am

    Kathy — I’ve come to the end of your visits , that were sent today. How fun to read about your adventures!! Enjoyed every word — and felt almost like I’d taken the trip! I do agree about the “scamming” stuff – that is always disappointing. But thank you lots , for taking the time to “share” this trip that you’ve both looked so forward to !! 🙂

  2. 2 Diane September 27, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Taking the cooking class sounded like so much fun! What a neat idea. I feel bad for the boys having to do the laundry while the girls had so much fun but at least they got to eat all the awesome food!

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