I traveled from Rome by train for two hours, took a 15 minute tram ride and then a short bus ride to arrive at Orvieto’s piazza or main square. Orvieto is the essence of old country, small town Europe, where centuries of tradition and history meet a strong sense of national identity and modern sensibility. Home to one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the country, quaint little street side cafes and chic, trendy clothing shops, Orvieto boasts treats old and new!
As far as restaurants, you’ll find every type of Italian favorite, especially specialties from the Umbria region that rely heavily on local seasonal vegetables, meats and grains. Restaurants follow the typical small town European schedule of lunch from 11:30 am to 4 pm and dinner from 8 pm to 12 am.
Believe it or not, Orvieto was the first place where I tasted the famous delicacy truffles and traditional Italian gnocchi. It’s also where I mastered the art of starting a meal with zuppa (soup). From minestrone to smooth lentil, eating zuppa was the perfect way to coat the stomach with flavorful nutrition on a brisk night and make sure not to overeat at mealtime. These meals are a testament to the whole slow food movement sweeping America, but part of the fabric of life in small city Europe. And, the local food shops support this lifestyle. As opposed to huge mega or supermarkets, you find quaint street markets with an ample selection of fine cheeses, fruit and veggies, wine and, of course, handmade as well as packaged pasta. The decor and atmosphere of these stores are inviting, and encourage conversation among friends and acquaintances and social lingering to check out what’s new in town.
Fashion: Classic and Forward Trends
I had a ball shopping in Orvieto. I bought a pair of really cute stilettos at a trendy shoe shop that was having a sale and some cool net knee socks for the cool winter weather. As a place of firsts, it’s only fitting that I also bought my first pair of classic square heel Italian shoes. I still don the cool linen blend scarves in plum and yellow, finely tailored tweed pants and unique, but functional leather shoulder bags from the local designer shops. Those finds were more precious than well-known, expensive Italian designer brands – not only because they were cheaper, but because of their unique, classic and local flavor.
Recreation and Culture
There’s a cool Internet cafe that also sells an array of chocolates around the world, specializing in the deep dark variety from parts of Africa and South America. You can buy logon passwords for 30, 60 or 120 minutes of Internet time. Decorated with laminated newspapers flashing global headlines and serving all types of hot drinks, it doubles as a coffeehouse / teashop.
As with all my travels, I have a discerning eye for the signs of multiculturalism when I visit a place. I didn’t have to search far to hear the rhythmic flow of Arabic language down the alleys of Orvieto. There was a Persian rug store and an international calling shop owned by a Moroccan man on my favorite strip. There were also cool yoga studios and an advertisement for a West African dance company performance.
During my trip to Italy, I spent time in beautiful Florence and vibrant Rome, but walking down the cobblestone streets and alleys of Orvieto I felt a sense of peace, safety and subtle connection to history and the present. What more could you ask for in your travels?
Dr. Nicole Maisha Monteiro is a psychologist and researcher by training and global traveler and culture observer by passion. She has been crossing borders and oceans since childhood and writes about her international adventures and personal insights at her Global Insights blog (http://maishaworld.blogspot.com/).
Image source:: HERE