Vino! Vino!

Montebuono--grapes2

One of the amazing things about Italy is seeing that yes, indeed, wine is made there, and made in mass quantities. Grape arbors cover the landscape in about the same numbers as olive trees in most people’s yards, and plenty of people seem to make their own wine. I imagine Napa Valley in California must be kind of the same way. As a result, wine is incredibly inexpensive, and also very good. This grape cluster was by my uncle’s place, and his landlord makes and sells his own wine. This wine was a whopping 5 Euro for 5 liters. Imagine! In Italy, the wine culture is more about enjoying the beverage on a regular basis rather than buying posh bottles and savoring them individually, as it is here.

We visited a place called Orvieto, which is in Umbria. Orvieto is known for its white wine, and we brought a three-pack home with us that cost less than 8 euro. Orvieto is an old medieval town, which, like many medieval towns, was built waaaaay up on top of a hill as a means of defense. You park your car in what is now the valley section of the town (it looks very new) and then take a tram up a very vertical incline to reach the old section. It’s like that first stage of a roller coaster–it clicks, clicks, clicks, and goes straight up. A little Italian child hollered “We’re all going to die!” as we went up. Cheery little lady.

To give you a sense of what I mean, here’s the view from on top of the medieval wall, looking down:
view from Orvieto2

Here’s one of the little streets that wind throughout:
Orvieto--walking down street

That’s me in the red shirt.

And here’s the enormous gothic cathedral that suddenly pops out of nowhere:
Orvieto--cathedral at distance

Pretty impressive, isn’t it? We ate at a little cafe that day, enjoying one of the “tourist menus” that features a prix fixe service–Mr. Pea and I each had the summer menu, which featured a garden salad, four different kinds of bruschetta, half a cantaloupe with an obscene amount of prosciutto, a quarter-liter of Orvieto white wine, and a quarter-liter of water, all for 15 euro. It was a lot of bang for our buck! These little tourist menus are great because they give you essentially a sampling of a region’s foods without having to order full-size quantities of numerous things. They’re worth every penny.

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