Todi or Orvieto for an afternoon?
We are spending three days in Tuscany (yes, I know, so little time!) and we'd like to venture into Umbria for at least 1/2 day during that time...instead of trying to cram in too much, I'm trying to cut it down to just one place, and I've narrowed it down to either Todi or Orvieto...I'm leaning towards Todi, but can be swayed in either direction - any recommendations as to which you would choose and why?? We will most likely have either lunch or dinner here, so food rec's are greatly appreciated as well!
Torta pinned down the difference very well. Orvieto is one of the towns on everybody's list and is fairly spectacular. Todi is smaller and not as well known but has an irresistable charm. I can't remember the names of the restaurants where we ate in each but recall that the one in Orvieto had a large outdoor terrace, but was on a side street, not facing a square or open space. I had delicious goat there, after being disappointed that they were out of tripe. In Todi, I was able to have my tripe and it was delicious. That restaurant was right on the main square in front of the cathedral and had a view out the other side. It had a terrace facing the countryside view. Todi is also a bit closer to Tuscany, whereas Orvieto is at the southern end of Umbria, so that may be a consideration for you. Another town to consider is Gubbio, closer still and also very close to Assisi so you could see both in a day. In Gubbio, the best restaurant is Taverna del Lupo. The house specialty is a stuffed leg of rabbit, and I started with a wonderful lasagne with white truffles. There are not many seafood restaurants in Umbria, but we did go to one (which also has freshwater fish) off the main road north of Spoleto (Taverna del Pescatore), and everything was very fresh. The area is landlocked and seafood is not a major part of the cuisine, but it is not very far from the sea.
I was just in Orvieto this past Saturday. It's a charming town, very relaxed, easy walking and a sweet little store with handmade toys (Il Mago di Oz). We had lunch at Trattoria La Grotta di Tittocchia Franco, Via Luca Signorelli, 5. Ravioli with black truffles were excellent, as was the pappardelle with boar sauce.
For food and a much larger choice of restaurants, Orvieto - and the Cathedral there is spectacular. For a smaller and I feel more charming town, Todi - people are friendly & it feels more 'real.' Their Cathedral is interesting too - just not as... We rented a villa outside of Todi, had a cook & a lot was closed for July, so really only had 1 dinner in town. At a well-known seafood restaurant off the side of the Cathedral that I'm spacing on the name. It was good, not spectacular, but friendly fun owner. Be sure & take the funicular up to the town (although you can drive).
Not knowing your preferences, I would rather visit Orvieto. I really like the feel of Orvieto and the sites and my wife loves all the great pottery shops. IMO, one of the best restaurants is in Italy is I Sette Consoli in the small Piazza Sant’ Angelo in Orvieto. While it isn't cheap, the lunch there is absolutely sublime. Here's what we had for lunch the last time there:
- Selection of breads
- 2001 Sagrantino
- Filetti di pesce persico, dorati e croccanti, insalatina di campo all’ aceto di lamponi e salsa di senape (ocean perch with balsamic salad and raspberry mustard vinegarette)
- Terrina di fegatini di pollo, salsa al Vino Dolce di Orvieto, pan brioche caldo e cipolle rosse caramellate (liver pate with sweet Orvieto wine sauce and caramelized onions)
- Risotto Carnaroli ai carciofi agnello e cavolo nero (lamb, artichokes and cabbage)
- Tortelli di anatra al profumo di arancia, salsa di sedano rapa e pecorino Umbro (duck filled pasta perfumed with blood oranges and local pecorino cheese)
- Suprema di pollo farcita ai porcini arrostita in forno, profumata al marsala e tortino di broccoletti “ripassati” (chicken with porcini mushrooms in light marsala sauce and a broccoli tort).