Southern Etruria: From Rome to Orvieto

October 24–30, 2016

We are offering this new tour either as an add-on to A Taste of Ancient Rome or by itself.

There is plenty of archaeo-culinary interest in the unjustly neglected territory between Rome and the Umbrian border. Think Etruscan cemeteries and medieval towns. Think chestnuts and black truffles and wild boar and newly pressed extra virgin olive oil.

Traveling north from Rome on ancient roads, we’ll visit the necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia, Etruscan “cities of the dead,” whose remains, very different from one another, have long captivated visitors but remain mysterious. The rugged rock-cut tombs of Norchia and isolated tombs of Tuscania add another dimension. And the medieval town of Tuscania is one of central Italy’s best-kept secrets, as pretty and charming as you could find in Tuscany itself.

Conquered by Rome, this Etruscan territory thrived into the Middle Ages and Renaissance. At Civitavecchia, on the coast, we’ll see Michelangelo’s fort and at Caprarola, Vignola’s inventive palace built for the Farnese family. Orvieto, just over the border in Umbria, will be our base for three nights. Dramatically perched atop a tufa outcropping, it boasts a fine Etruscan museum, a magnificent Gothic cathedral, and so much more. We’ll have time to shop for the renowned local ceramics, lace, food products, and wine. Side trips will take us to such diverse sights as the Roman town of Sutri, beautiful Lake Bolsena, and the magnificent provincial capital of Viterbo, with its high walls and papal palace—and its general indifference to tourism.

Once again we’ll eat wonderfully in a mix of traditional trattorias and award-winning restaurants for fine dining (always with local ingredients). October (artichokes! persimmons!) just may be the best time of year to visit this area, which is known for game (we’re thinking fondly of some of the wild-boar stews we’ve had in Orvieto), flavorful beans, filling soups of, say, chickpeas and chestnuts, freshwater fish, and handmade flour-and-water pastas dressed with the local black truffles.

Come discover it with Liz and Maureen.