Orvieto is famous for many things: its iconic cathedral, Orvieto Classico wine, Etruscan pottery, and its funicular. Dig just a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a city at war. It’s a sweet and creamy war.
It’s a gelato war.
In the beginning, there was Pasqualletti’s. They had a little shop on the Corso (main shopping street), just at the corner of Via del Duomo (the pathway that leads to the duomo). As far as I was concerned, Pasquelletti’s was synonymous with gelato in Orvieto.
Then I noticed battle lines being drawn in the form of a couple of bars proudly serving Sarchioni’s. I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for Sarchioni’s, having been to the “Mother Church” — their bar in Torre Alfina. In fact, I’ve been there often enough to become recognizable to its owners. I like everything about Sarchioni’s — the gelato, friendly people, gelato cakes (yes, I’ve had a couple), and the village of Torre Alfina.
But back to Orvieto …. when a Sicilian couple opened a tiny shop practically across the Corso from Pasquelletti’s original shop, I decided neutrality was the only answer. Call me Switzerland. Their sweet stuff hails from Sicily, where gelato was invented, and is just as good as (better than? I have to re-check that) the others.
But let’s be fair to the good people of Orvieto. They aren’t uniquely warlike, gelato-wise. The entire region is entrenched in this sweet war. A mere 30 minutes away, for example, in the small town of Bolsena, there’s yet another battle-worthy warrior: Santa Cristina’s.
Would that war were always so harmless.
At home in Ohio, my life can be a hot mess — I run too fast without ever catching up, desperately chasing efficiency and accomplishment. In precious moments of clarity, I know that this freneticism is mostly manufactured, born of the American tendency to equate one’s busy schedule with productivity.
I also know that efficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Take, for example, being summoned by one’s Italian bank to come into any branch office and sign a piece of paper. Such was the gist of a letter we received.
This post is another wonderful guest’s answer to the ever-popular “what would a week at Rocca di Benano be like?” question. I like his answer, particularly the “discovery” of Anguillara Sabazia on the shores of Lake Bracciano. And don’t miss the last shot, when he and his family had to leave Benano.
Thanks very much, Mike. We’re looking forward to having you back to Rocca di Benano!
It has taken a while but I’m finally writing about our perfect week this past August in Benano. Since our son and daughter-in-law live in Florida it was longest all five of us had been able to spend together over the past few years. It was a wonderful trip and I’d like to share a few highlights.
To make the most of this trip we hired Francis for the entire week. That could not have worked out any better. Driver and interpreter, tour guide, photographer, historian and storyteller. He even helped with grocery shopping.
We visited many of the same cities and sites that other Benano guests have experienced. However, we would like to highlight a couple of places we visited that others might be interested in reading about. We arrived in Rome on Saturday morning. Since official check-in isn’t until 4pm, we used the time traveling between Rome and Benano to visit the city (or is it a village?) of Anguillara Sabazia. It’s just bit north of Rome and sits on the shore of Lake Bracciano. If anyone is a fan of the television show Everybody Loves Raymond you would recognize it as the site where they shot their two-part episode in Italy.
Our family is a fan of that show and we can remember seeing that episode for the first time and thinking how nice it would be if someday we could visit a place like that. Well, that someday came. Of course, the town was spruced up a bit for the filming but it’s still as picturesque as it is in the show.
Another site we visited was the Florence American Cemetery. It’s just off the A1 Autostrada south of the city of Florence. This is one of two American World War II cemeteries in Italy. This is the resting place for soldiers killed in the later stages of fighting in Italy, after the Allied liberation of Rome. The other cemetery is near Anzio.
We left Benano early for the drive north, spent some time at the cemetery and then, rather than go into Florence, made our way back toward Benano and spent the rest of the day in Siena. The campo in Siena just happened to be set up for their famous horse race, the Palio, which was going to run the next day. Since we did not see Florence itself we have one more reason to someday return to Benano. Actually it was such a wonderful week all around I don’t think we need any one single reason to come back.
We were on the go every day. We visited Orvieto twice, Civita di Bagnorigio, Assisi, the sagra in Torre Alfina (along with return visits for dinner and gelato), Pienza, Montepulciano, Siena and a full day in Rome capped with an evening dinner on the beach in Fiumicino. We still found time to enjoy Benano, too, with a couple of evenings grilling on the terrace and a special Creole dinner on our last night there.
We had a wonderful time in Italy and at Rocca di Benano. It was the trip of a lifetime. At least until we’re able to go back!