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Libreria Antiquaria Baduel

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.” ― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

We have a total of four bookstores within the walls of Orvieto’s historical center. A disproportionate number for a town of its size—they’re eclipsed only by the number of bars, restaurants, barbershops and underwear stores.

Unfortunately, over the last several decades the world has witnessed the long, slow death of the independent bookshop. Most blame the decline on the advent of superstores and later by the domination of online companies such as Amazon. In today’s digital-based world is there still a place for brick-and-mortar bookstores?

One former Dublin bookseller and regular visitor to Italy thinks there is. “I believe that bookstores will survive in some manner, shape or form; they are already evolving by offering customers comfortable cafes, other gift items and electronics, including access to digital books via their own websites, while remaining cultural hubs. Today I am a frequent traveller in search of independent bookstores wherever I go!”

A book enthusiast

Bookworms who visit Orvieto will be happy to know that there are two such ‘repositories of knowledge’ located not far off the main high street, but far from the maddening crowds.

Libreria Arcimboldo

GianLuca Fioravanti of Libreria Arcimboldo

Libreria Arcimboldo is a second-hand bookshop located on Via Filippeschi (between Piazza della Repubblica and the medieval quarter.) The little shop sells a fascinating mishmosh of art books, first editions, out of print titles, literature, poetry, old bibles, and even vinyl records.

Proprietor GianLuca Fioravanti wasn’t always passionate about books and reading. In high school he’d studied economics, but found the subject so tedious and boring that he almost gave up reading all together. “Then I ran across Kafka and Flaubert—two leading novelist of the last two centuries—I have not stopped reading since.” Changing to the study of philosophy opened him up to the worlds of art, history and poetry, as well.

Finding work in the literary field wasn’t easy so GianLuca took a series of jobs that helped him develop his people and trading skills. During that period he lived in Rome’s Trastevere district where he spent a great deal of time browsing neighborhood bookshops. He literally woke up one day and thought, “EUREKA! I will open a bookstore!” He chose Orvieto because it’s where his ancestors originated and because, “I think the city is gorgeous with many hidden treasures.”

One of those treasures is Libreria Arcimboldo.

Libreria Arcimboldo, Via Filippeschi, 16; Tel: (+39) 380.4757293; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibreriaArcimboldo/; Email: libreriaarcimboldo@gmail.com. Open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 1:30pm & 4:00pm to 8:30pm. Closed Mondays.

Libreria Antiquaria Baduel

Owner of Libreria Antiquaria Baduel, Mario Tedeschini

Mario Tedeschini’s love of reading began at age thirteen. Spending afternoons with his nose in a book from his parents’ library, he began cataloging each finished volume by subject and time of printing. In essence he’d drafted his first inventory—unaware that years later it would become his profession.

Mario started his career in 1997 with a bibliographic study in which he published a catalog of ancient books. In 2000, he opened Libreria Antiquaria Baduel on Via Vitozzi and, at about the same time, was certified as an expert authorized to issue opinions about the originality and market value of books, prints and manuscripts.

The oldest book in his possession at the moment was printed in 1561, but Mario points out that books aren’t necessarily deemed rare or valuable because of their age; rather they’re appraised for their historical significance or important subject matter.

Formation of Eve, relief basement of the façade of the Orvieto Cathedral. Engraving made in 1791

“The engine that drives me to continue a job that is “out of step” with a digital world is dictated by the passion to discover rare editions or books virtually unknown,” Mario explains. “I am compelled by an irresistible impulse to study, observe and touch a book—where all the senses are involved. This passion is driven by cultural enjoyment and the desire to preserve history—not as a mere economic interest, since that would end all the magic that surrounds the world of books.”

Libreria Antiquaria Baduel, Via A. Vitozzi, 7/7A; Tel & Fax: (+39) 0763.342046; Email: baduel@baduel.it; Website: https://baduel.it; Winter hours: 9:30am to 1:00pm & 4:30 to 7:00pm. Closed Mondays. Summer Hours: 9:30 to 1:00pm & 5:00pm to 7:30pm. Closed Saturdays.

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Photograph by Toni DeBella

One of the advantages of living in Europe is its proximity to exotic places like…Marrakesh, Morocco. Marrakesh is one of the hippest, cultured, atmospheric, friendly, delicious, and surprising places I’ve ever been.

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Watercolor by Kelly Medford

In preparation for my first journey to Morocco (and the continent of Africa, for that matter), I made a conscious decision not to “Google” the hell out my upcoming trip, but experience it with fresh, unfiltered eyes. I didn’t have low expectations. I had no expectations. Surprise, Marrakesh!

Astonishing Thing #1: Sparkling Streets

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

I had no idea that the city of Marrakesh would be so clean! From the modern and architecturally stunning airport, to the palm tree-lined (and pothole-free) roads, to the un-graffitied walls, to the dusty ancient streets of the Medina…all are absolutely pristine.

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Photograph by Toni DeBella

 Astonishing Thing #2: It’s Organized

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

The people of Marrakesh have rules and they actually follow them (hint, hint Italy)! In the Medina, motorcycles, bikes, and donkey carts travel on the left—pedestrians walk on the right. I didn’t see one collision (or even a close call) while I was visiting. Moroccans do traffic flow really well. I would call it organized chaos.

Astonishing Thing #3: It’s Safe

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Photograph by Kelly Medford

You’ve probably heard stories about how unsafe it is to walk around The Medina without a local guide at your side. Bunk. Yes, a lot of people stop to ask if you need help finding something or they may offer to take you to their uncle’s/cousin’s/father’s spice shop; a simple “No Merci” easily discourages them. I walked all over the city unescorted and, truth be told, I worry more about having my pockets picked in Rome.

Astonishing Thing #4: Everything is Negotiable

 

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Photograph by Christine Cantow Smith

It’s not normal for Americans to haggle over every single purchase we make, but in Morocco negotiating price is a huge part of the culture (and one I didn’t particularly enjoy). If you want to buy stuff in the Souks (outdoor markets), you’re going to have to play the game. After my third transaction, I hung up my shopping boots and went for a coffee (which is great, by the way). I just didn’t have any more fight left in me. 

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Photograph by Christine Cantow Smith

Astonishing Thing #5: A Built-in Wake Up Call

Five times-a-day mosques deliver “a call to prayer” by loudspeaker; the first goes off at dawn. If you’re an early riser, no need to set your alarm clock. If you’re someone who likes to sleep in, I don’t know what to tell you. Nazir, a communications director for three museums who moonlights at Riad Dombaraka, explains that the call isn’t necessarily an obligation to pray, but rather a reminder for those who want to pray. (Watch the Video above).

Our bellhop

Our bellhop

From the first moment I arrived, I fell in love with Marrakesh and its super-cool vibe. I can’t wait to come back and see what other surprises this wonderful city has in store for me. ‘Arak qariba!

A big shout-out and bigger “shukraan” (thank you in Arabic) to my pal and artist Kelly Medford for inviting me to join her group during her watercolor workshop. For more information about upcoming painting workshops with Kelly click here.

 

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Watercolor by Birgit Dreesen

 

Watercolor by Lisa Fedich

Watercolor by Lisa Fedich

 

Joe Painting

Joe Altwer

Photo credits: Toni DeBella, Kelly Medford & Christine Cantow Smith

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coffee sf

There’s an audible gasp when the price of my morning coffee is announced ($5.00) and the bill arrives for two martinis ($35, nuts included). Doing the grocery shopping causes small aneurysms – a 12oz container of strawberries and blueberries comes in at $7.99. I’m experiencing sticker shock on steroids.

Downtown office buildings have hi-tech elevators that run based on algorithmes. Tap a computerized keypad and it scientifically figures out which car you should take to get to your floor most efficiently.

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At commuter train platforms people form queues behind black squares that indicate where doors will line up. Folks wait for others to get off before boarding. I guess these people have never met a Signora at the Saturday morning market.

I’ve been seen standing dumbfounded in front of new-fangled ATMs, bus ticket machines and parking meters. I ask way too many questions and require loads of explanation. Suddenly I’m a stranger in my native country.

After nearly four years living in Italy, I’ve adapted to its culture and grown accustomed to its ketchup (less sugar), pastries (less sugar) and mayonnaise (less salt).

The other day a barista asked me if I wanted my cappuccino “wet or dry?”

Ten days and counting…Orvieto or bust.

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Pasticceria Nando Orvieto

Instead of an oversize bunny rabbit leaving a basket of candied eggs, citizens of Orvieto wake up on Easter morning to a breakfast of Pizza di Pasqua (it’s not really a pizza, but it’s not exactly a cake either).

Pizza di Pasqua is a yeast-filled bread (similar to Christmas pannettone) that’s served during the holy days of Pasqua (Easter Sunday) and Pasquetta (Easter Monday).

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Bar & Pasticceria Montanucci Orvieto

A cherished tradition typical of central Italy (Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche), Pizza di Pasqua comes in both dolci (sweet) and al formaggio (cheese) versions.

Folks in Orvieto take great pride in their Pizza di Pasqua, so you can imagine there’s lots of fighting discussion about who has the best recipe (there are as many as there are cooks). For the past 14 years, Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto has sponsored a bake-off to decide whose is the yummiest. Both professionals and amateurs are invited to compete for the coveted culinary distinction of “Best Pizza di Pasqua di Orvieto”.

 

IMG_1795Exuberant baker Gaetana Olini has been preparing the Easter specialty for decades and let’s us in on her secret for making a great one.

“You must have patience and allow the pizza to rise in a warm spot for at least 18 hours”, she warns. “It’s in this way that you can be sure it will turn out very soft and airy.”

Gaetana P di pasqua

Pizza di Pasqua: It isn’t Easter in Umbria without it.

 

IMG_1792A RECIPE FOR PIZZA DI PASQUA…

INGREDIENTS

4 yeast cubes (from the refrigerated section, not the powdered kind!)

1 kg of flour 00

250 grams of sugar

1 cup olive oil

6 eggs

300 ml of water

300 ml of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or one package)

1 lemon zest

1 small glass of anisette liqueur and ‘rosolio di cannella’ (cinnamon liqueur)

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PREPARATION

Dissolve 2 cubes of yeast in 250 ml of warm water.

Meanwhile, in a large plastic bowl put 300 grams of flour.

Add the yeast mixture into the flour and mix with a fork until all the water is absorbed into the dough (be careful not to let it get hard). Add flour gradually making sure the dough remains soft!

Cover with a cloth and put in a warm space (inside a shut-off oven is best) and let the dough rise (about 1 hour).

Melt the remaining 2 cubes of yeast in 300 ml of warm milk. Remove the bowl from the oven and add the eggs, sugar, olive oil, lemon zest and milk with yeast. Blend with an electric mixer, adding more flour gradually, by hand.

Pour in two glasses of the liqueur and the vanilla.

At some point, if you did everything right, you will see that you will be forced to stop mixing because the dough will stick to the whips and it won’t be possible to continue. At this point use your hands to knead the dough, still continuing to add flour until you find that the dough comes off easily from your hands. But beware, it must not become a nice smooth ball! It must always remain soft and wet!

Grease two baking pans (large and tall) and put a quantity of dough that must not exceed one quarter of the height of the container to allow the dough to rise more than twice its size. It’s ready when the dough reaches the edge of the container.

Put in a preheated oven at 100C, then increase the temperature to 180C. The pan should be placed on a lower rack but not resting on the bottom of the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes.

Pasticceria Nando, Via dei Sette Martiri, 68, Orvieto Scalo

Bar Montanucci, Corso Cavour, 23, Orvieto

Palazzo del Gusto Orvieto, Via Ripa Serancia I, 16, Orvieto TR

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Slavic Montanucci

Coffee bars in Italy are its life’s blood. For over 100 years, Bar Montanucci has been pouring caffeine-addicted Orvietani their morning cappuccinos (in my case, caffe latte) as well as offering fresh, handmade pastries, cakes and…..wait for it…chocolate! At lunch choose from fresh salads, sandwhiches and pasta. After lunchtime, the case transforms into a gelato counter, and in the evenings you can order cocktails with small plates. The terraced patio is a great place to hang-out on warm, summer days and nights, too. Like! Share! Visit!

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‪#‎31daysofOrvieto‬‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎barmontanucci‬ ‪#‎coffeebarsinitaly‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬

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TERRAZZO SHOT WITH RAOUL

As we come to the mid-point of our project to spread the word about the marvels of Orvieto (in 31 installments), today I thought I’d post some of my favorite shots of life in Orvieto. If you love Orvieto or want to support the effort to “passaparola” about Orvieto’s beauty and history, then ‘like’ the posts, ‘share’ them and then ‘visit, visit, visit’! 

 

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‪#‎31daysofOrvieto‬ ‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎iloveorvieto‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬ ‪#‎Italy‬‪#‎Orvieto‬

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So, you think you have to forego your workouts when visiting Orvieto? Well, you’d be wrong. On top of lots of strolling, you can take a Zumba class with the great Oxana Voropinova at Persiede dance studio (along with ballet, jazz, etc). There’s also several yoga and pilates studios around town and the ‘the 2 Peppes’ (tennis pros) at Villa Mercede will hone your clay court tennis skills. Not sporty? Then take the ‘walks of all walks’ on the ‘Anello della Rupe”: An hour trek around the rock that will change your life! Read about it here. Orvieto is good for your health! Like! Share! Visit! 

 

#‎31daysofOrvieto‬ ‪#‎orvietoorbust‬ ‪#‎iloveorvieto‬ ‪#‎Orvieto‬ ‪#‎Italytravel‬ ‪#‎Italy‬

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