Orvieto Splendor: Umbria Jazz Winter
For the twenty-fourth year, Orvieto – splendid medieval hilltown perched on a volcanic rock plateau – sweeps in the New Year with five days of jazz (mostly), blues, soul and swing. We’re always there for a couple days, our Christmas (and anniversary) gift to each other.
A highlight for us each year?
Jazz lunch in the medieval Franciscan refectory now Ristorante San Francesco. Centuries ago, brown-robed Franciscans joined in silent repasts of simple fare. During Umbria Jazz, diners sway in their chairs to the live music backdropping the abundant lunch buffet. This year, the Swing Valley Band took the stage.
From morning to morning (the next day!), the plethora of concerts all over the town in the medieval palazzi and frescoed theater draw jazz-lovers from all over the country. And after we wandered the Orvieto medieval alleyways to work off our jazz lunch, we hit another winner: the afternoon concert of Sammy Miller and the Congregation. You’d have thought that the music of this talented group of young American jazz musicians might bring down the medieval tower topping the vaulted venue where they played. Their music certainly brought the Italians to their feet. Click here or here and you’ll see why.
And of course, any foray at Umbria Jazz Winter has to include following the Florentine brass band, Funk Off, through the streets, children and adults clapping and dancing as they trail. Many a browser at the outdoor market booths hugging the medieval Palazzo Pubblico abandoned shopping for Funk Off.
Hotels in Orvieto are booked out well in advance for those Umbria Jazz days but for years now, we’ve enjoyed cozy lodgings in the home of 88-year old Signora Liliana. We always enjoy leisurely morning coffee and her homemade tozzetti cookies, listening to her stories, her tidbits of wisdom. We’ve heard many poignant reminisces about her childhood as an orphan growing up in abysmal rural poverty. Indefatigable, Signora Liliana still takes in seamstress work, cleans all her own house – “except the windows for my children tell me to stay off the chairs” – and was about to roll out homemade pasta to make lasagne for her nephew’s family the morning we left…..!
We’ll see her again next year for Umbria Jazz Winter: how to be anywhere else at the end of December?
Click here to read about Funk Off at Umbria Jazz Winter, 2017
Read more on Umbria Jazz Winter, Orvieto
Click here to read more about Umbria Jazz memorable moments
Read more about Funk Off and Umbria Jazz
Read about why Umbria Jazz can’t be missed
Read about a young Sicilian jazz wonder
Click here for more on why Umbria Jazz Winter entices
Read more on that Italian jazz enthusiasm
Enjoy Funk Off on YouTube