Our slow northerly climb through Italy continued with a stop in another Umbro city: Orvieto. Orvieto is yet another walled medieval city, nestled at the top of a massive hill. It's easy to understand why all these old Italian cities are located atop gigantic hills - back in the good ol days a city wasn't just a place to live, it was your whole life. And that included the need to defend your life and home from invaders. What better way to do that than to build a walled city atop a large hill? It's the same thing in Australia. Why do you think Doncaster and Templestowe are so damned hilly? To keep out the riffraff from the Western suburbs! Didn't work with me though - I managed to scale the walls and steal me a cute little Eastern suburbs girl! But I digress…
After showing the bus driver our address, he dropped us at a stop in what appeared to be a tiny little town on the outskirts of the city. A quick check of Google Maps suggested were at least 1 or 2 kms from our B&B. With 25kgs backpacks. In the heat. I phoned the owner of the B&B to work out the best way to get there. He immediately offered to come and pick us up from the bus stop. However my not-so-perfect Italian meant that I gave him the impression that we had a car with us. So you should have seen the look on our faces when he arrived on a Vespa! After taking one look at us, he promptly returned with his car and brought us to our home for the next 3 nights. And what a home it would prove to be!
B&B Il Voltabotte is a cosy lodging owned and run by two brothers, Marco and Daniele (who picked us up from the bus stop). The boys have converted their childhood family home into a neat little B&B with 3 separate bedrooms and bathrooms. Marco and Daniele go out of their way to make you feel at home in their home and encourage guests to share meals with them. They prepare all their own meals from scratch and are absolute artists in the kitchen. They use ingredients (and wine, lots of wine) sourced from local producers to ensure their guests get a true taste of Umbria. They also make their own olive oil but you don't cook with it. It's a meal in and of itself. It's so rich and flavoursome (and green - the oil is green!) you simply put on a slice of bread with a pinch of salt and your life will change right there and then!
We could talk about our adventures in the city of Orvieto itself (and it is a beautiful city) but they simply pale in comparison to the experience we had at Il Voltabotte. We immediately hit it off with Marco and Daniele and found ourselves happy to forego the touristy things just to spend time with them and their parents (who popped in from time to time). Daniele gave Jess cooking lessons (ask Jess to make her new Carbonara and thank me later), Marco whipped up the greatest BBQ since Paul Hogan's efforts on those Tourism Australia commercials back in the 80s, and their father, Giuseppe, taught us new ways to play the Italian card game Scopa, whilst enjoying a few Maltese cigars that I had picked up a few weeks back while travelling on "the rock".
Dinner time was always a blast at Il Voltabotte. We would share a meal with the brothers and other guests, relishing the opportunity to meet new people and share our experiences. It was also a great chance for me to scrub up on my Italian. We met a young couple from Trieste, a lovely family from Como and a few other travellers with interesting stories.
B&B Il Voltabotte was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and we'd recommend anybody to stay there. If you want an authentic Italian experience and an insight into life in the Umbria region then you must spend a few days in Marco and Daniele's warm and hospitable abode. We came to Orvieto looking for some interesting sights and we left with dear and, we feel, lifelong friends. Oh, and we had some of the greatest meals in our lives!
We had such a great time with Marco and Daniele, we invited them to come and visit us at our next stop: the nearby city of Viterbo