Taste routes

A tour through the history and flavours of Orvieto, Todi and Terni

A tour through the history and flavours of Orvieto, Todi and Terni

Sometimes it doesn't take that much to regain your strength and energy: a break from work, a destination to explore, the right company. Take three days off and follow our suggestions and you will feel satisfied and ready to get going again.

The specific tour we suggest today starts in Orvieto, though this city would merit an entire weekend to be fully enjoyed. However, we will try to concentrate all the best the town has to offer in the shortest possible amount of time.

Among the unmissable attractions is the Duomo, a splendid building erected in the distant 13th century under the pontificate of Pope Urban IV. One is immediately struck by the Gothic façade with its mosaics and bas-reliefs, and by the Chapel of the Holy Body. The reliquary that is held here still preserves the cloth stained with blood that dripped from the host during a Mass celebrated by a Bohemian priest who was undergoing a crisis of faith.

At the back of the imposing building we find the Palazzi dei Papi, dedicated to, among others, popes Martin IV and Boniface VIII.

We then delve into the magical atmosphere of the underground city (the città sotterranea), filled with caves and grottoes, including the Pozzo di San Patrizio, which was completed in the 16th century to furnish water to the fortress of Albornoz.

We end the first day with a bang by dining with the area's typical dishes. On the menu you will surely find wild pigeon alla leccarda, chicken cacciatora, and for dessert, ciambelloni with aniseed. And if you really want to spoil yourselves, try a glass of Sangiovese or Trebbiano, two truly excellent wines.

The next morning we move a few miles away and start our itinerary from Todi, a town perched atop a hill, like a lighthouse over the Tiber Valley. Within the three-fold city walls, dating from various historical eras, we find Piazza del Popolo, the town's beating heart, overlooked by the Palazzo Comunale, which includes in its interior the Museo Lapidario, the Pinacoteca Civica (town painting gallery), and the Museum of Roman and Etruscan history.

Nearby we come across the Church of San Fortunato, dedicated to the local patron saint, which also holds the tomb of the humanist poet Jacopone of Todi. Art lovers cannot miss the Tempio della Consolazione, erected in the 17th century following a design by Bramante.

After visiting the archaeological treasures that are the Cisterne, underground cisterns that were used to collect rainwater, we definitely need a tasty break!

On Todi's tables the real specialties are caciato or nociato bread, spit-roasted wild pigeons, and cured meats, accompanied by a Grechetto DOC wine, which was beloved also by Pliny the Elder.

We end our journey with a visit to Terni, dedicating the third and final day to the beauties of the city and its natural setting. In this area, after all, we find the Marmore Waterfall, one of Europe's tallest.

In this case as well, following a good long walk in the greenery or after trekking out in the open air, you'll welcome a nice rest in front of a good old plate of ciriole alla ternana, a traditional hand-made pasta usually served with a tomato, garlic, olive oil, and chili sauce. Also popular around here are game-based dishes of grilled meat. To end on a sweet note, try panpepato, a typical Christmas dessert bursting with nuts and candied fruit in a chocolate base.