This past Friday I visited the Ttre Botti Winery and Orvieto as part of a USAC sponsored trip (Thanks, USAC!) and experience my first ever wine tasting!
The day started at 10:00 a.m. when we jumped on a bus and started towards the winery. The winery, called Tre Botti, born in 2003 with the acquisition of some land hillside that overlooks and dominates the Teverina Valley and the Alviano Oasis, amidst Lazio and Umbria.
This land borders the medieval towns of Castiglione in Teverina and Civitella D’agliano and for centuries has been renowned for the cultivation of olives and wine growing.
Now when I arrived I was half expecting to see a giant factory-looking building, and maybe an acre or two of grape trees. But what I saw was much more than that. I saw a small building with a modern design and large tanks used for processing the grapes. Tre Botti also produces olive oil and honey.
The winery, as I mentioned above, sits atop a hill overlooking one of the best wine routes in the region. If it had been a better day, I would have gotten some fantastic pictures.
The decade-old wine entity produces delicious, yet inexpensive wines. Their four different types of wine – three red and one white – can be had four under 10 euro. I tasted three.
First was a white wine named Icanthus, a bright pale yellow with green tinges. It’s deemed to have a slightly aromatic perfume with a pleasing hint of wildflowers. It’s balanced, clean and carries a decent persistence. This wine utilizes more than three types of grapes including the Grechetto and Malvasia varieties.
Next, I tried the Tusco wine. It has a clear, ruby red color with intense, but fruity hints of
cherry and fresh red-berry fruit. According to experts, it is balanced, complex, persistent, and characterized by a clean taste and soft tannin. This wine uses the sangiovese and Violone grapes.
On tap last was the Castiglionero wine. This one carried a deep, dark, ruby red color with intense hints of cherry. The taste is full, harmonious and lasting because its incredibly soft and balanced. This wine uses the Violone grape.
Even though I don’t care for white wines that much, and I don’t claim to be a certified wine sommelier, I really enjoyed this white one. I enjoyed it so much that I got three bottles. One of which I drank when I picnicked on the lake in Bracciano the next day.
My second time in Orvieto was much better than the first. A week prior I was here because I bought a ticket to go just two days before USAC unexpectedly announced we’d be going there after the winery visit. First up, the underground.
We toured the Orvieto Underground, which has long kept the secret of its labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie beneath the surface. Dug deep into the tuff, a volcanic rock, these secret hidden tunnels are only now open to view through guided tours. Their spectacular nature has also yielded many historical and archaeological finds.
The underground city boasts tunnels, galleries, wells, stairs, quarries, cellars, unexpected passageways, cisterns, superimposed rooms with numerous small square niches, detailing its creation over the centuries. Many of the homes of noble families were equipped with a means of escape from the elevated city during times of siege through secret escape tunnels carved from the soft rock.
The tunnels would lead from the city palazzo to emerge at a safe exit point some distance away from city walls. There are 1219 caves in this city.
I thought this to be particularly amazing because the Etruscans used to breed pigeons in these caves and also carved out wells more than 100 meters deep to capitalize on the water below the previously volcanic city. Because of their pigeon breeding and water wells, the Etruscans not only lived here from the 9th century B.C. to the 3rd century B.C., but they also survived a two-year siege by the Romans in which their food and water supply was cut off. However, like most small cities, the Etruscans succumbed to the massive Roman Empire.
DUOMO IN ORVIETO
The Duomo in Orvieto was much prettier, and far more beautiful than Siena’s, which really impressed me. The building was constructed under the orders of Pope Urban IV to commemorate and provide a suitable home for the Corporal of Bolsena.
A miracle which is said to have occurred in 1263 in the nearby town of Bolsena, when a traveling priest who had doubts about the truth of transubstantiation found that his Host was bleeding so much that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is now stored in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral.
The cathedral’s façade is a classic piece of religious construction, containing elements of design from the 14th to the 20th century, with a large rose window, golden mosaics and three huge bronze doors, while inside resides two frescoed chapels decorated by some of the best Italian painters of the period with images of Judgment Day.
This cathedral is often referred to as the Golden Lily of Cathedrals for its mosaics that ornate its incomparable façade, designed at the beginning of the XIV century by Lorenzo Maitani. The interior, rich in works of art, houses among other things the fine marble group of the Pietà, sculpted by Ippolito Scalza in 1579. The artistic jewel in the Duomo is the Chapel of San Brizio on whose walls the artist from Cortona, Luca Signorelli, frescoed (1499-1504) a Universal Judgment, one of the highest testimonials of Italian painting.
A perfect ending to the day I might say. I saw this cathedral twice and really felt I had a complete experience in Orvieto.
Look at my gallery of photos here if you haven’t already seen them. No photo or video allowed inside this Duomo, sorry!