After cappuccino and cornetti, we said arrivederci to our hosts in Rome, newlyweds Joyce the American and Claudio the Roman (sorry for the geographic mismatch), and drove north to Orvieto.

After our supermarket tourism stop at the Coop, we made our way up the winding hill along increasingly narrow streets until we took the hard left turn into the ATMOSFERA D’ARTE courtyard.

We didn’t see Red, the orange tabby, but had a tail-wagging greeting from Biscotto, the springer spaniel.This was our 3rd stay with Laura and family. Tonight we’d be in one of their new rooms, nestled behind a small patio. It was just as nicely-decorated and comfortable as the rooms upstairs.

The day was already hot. And we were officially hungry. We decided to walk around and stop at a place that caught our eye.

We found IL MIGLIO LA PIZZERIA … and were happy to see Argillae wines on the menu. Argillae Pinata is a delightfully-refreshing white wine, with gentle white fruit notes … perfect on a summer afternoon. We started with octopus, potato, and olive salad. Sea, earth, and trees combine for a tasty dish … and the accompanying green beans were particularly good. My primi was paccheri with mussels and pecorino. I love these large pasta tubes, and the tender mussels and coarsely-grated young pecorino were a light and flavorful condimento. David couldn’t resist tagliatelle with tartufo nero … the pasta stands were perfect with these earthly delights.

Dinner was at our favorite … TRATTORIA DA CARLO.

Carlo greeted us with hugs and a big smile. We sat outside in the charming piazza … and glanced at the menu. More serious review isn’t necessary as we always let Carlo be our guide.

We relaxed and people watched. A pair of women, both with several shopping bags. An old man, eating alone yet content in his meal. A German couple on their honeymoon (sitting next to us … they told us, it wasn’t like they wore matching “Just Married” hats). A long table of multi-generational Americans (their voices, louder than those from other tables, and accents gave them away).

David ordered an Argillae D.O.C. Superiore Orvieto, a delicate nectar of a white wine that’s lovely and sippable.

As our antipasto, we enjoyed fresh figs with salumi and Carlo’s hand-cut, homemade prosciutto. Cracked pepper is rubbed on the outside which gives the pork an additional tasting note, and the slightly thicker slices make it among the best pork products we’ve tasted.

My primo pick was umbrechelli with guanciale, fennel seeds, pecorino … thick strands of pasta are wonderful with savory pork, the crunch and bright flavor of fennel, then enhanced with pecorino. David chose wisely … “macaroni” (the menu’s word) tossed with a ragù Bolognese of hand-chopped Cinta Senese pork and Chianina beef. Two standout meats mingle and merge to robust perfection.

For our secondi, Carlo recommended two. The hand-chopped Chianina tartare was served with lightly toasted bread and olive oil … a great combination of crunchy and creamy, savory and simple. The other was pollo al Rabbioncino … chicken simmered in white wine until it is so tender, flavorful chunks fell off the bone when you look at it.

Now, sit down. We only had one dolci. (I know, right?) It was tiramisù … and this version is creamier than most, with a thicker layer of cocoa (no mere dusting here) on top that embellishes the boldness of the coffee and creaminess of the mascarpone.

We strolled back to the B&B.

After breakfast, we wandered in the general direction of the Cathedral. Il Duomo di Orvieto has exteriors of intricate carvings and curving columns plus interiors resplendent with even more glorious marble. The church was virtually empty. As we were sitting near the altar, a man sat down at the organ, announced that there would be a 30-minute concert … and began with Bach. Awesome.

Our ticket to the Cathedral included entrance into a modern art museum next door. The sparse space and the simplicity of the pieces on exhibition provided an interesting contrast to the Renaissance majesty.

Before heading to the hotel, we made our obligatory stop to visit the cat colony near the entrance to the catacombs. The view overlooking the Umbrian countryside is spectacular … and will be enjoyed even by dog lovers.

We wanted lunch before heading to ARGILLAE WINERY, but had no target trattoria. Then destiny led to, yep, DA CARLO. We just wanted pasta now … and picked the umbrechelli with guanciale, fennel seeds, and pecorino (sopra.) that we enjoyed the night before. Sorry to be so predictable.

We got to the winery, and before our tasting, Guilia … the owner and Carlo’s wife … asked if we wanted to see the bottling process. She took us downstairs, and in the warehouse was a huge truck with all the equipment. Many wineries have their own tubs and tubes, but Guilia said that smaller producers rent the hardware since they use it only a limited time per year.

Back in the modern tasting room, we enjoyed Pinata and Grechetto and Anfora and their delicious new rosé … plus bread with olive oil.

As we drove home through the hills from Umbria to Tuscany, navigation … ever the prankster … told us that a gravel road route was faster than a paved street. As we drove through the woods along the bumps and potholes, we doubted her advice. Then … as we reached a clearing, we saw a hawk rise from the canyon with a snake in its talons !! and fly in front of our car, disappearing on the other side. That was So. Amazing. And totally worth blowing out the suspension on our car. JK.

We got home, and told the kitties about our hawk sighting. They wanted dinner.


3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 oz. (2 Tbl.) olive oil
Peel and juice from 1 lemon
Peel from 1 orange
2–¾ cup flour
2–½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
3–4 plums … thinly sliced
1 banana … (peeled, duh) and sliced
(Optional) Powdered milk, for sprinkling on top

- Preheat the oven to 350° F (170° C). Grease a 9-inch round ring pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the fruits and lemon juice.
- In a large bowl, whip the eggs and sugar until pale yellow and thickened.
- Add the oil and peels … mix well.
- Stir in dry ingredients until blended, then fold in the fruit mixture.
- Pour into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Invert onto a plate.
- Serve at any temperature.