on the sweet streets of Orvieto

Orvieto is famous for many things: its iconic cathedral, Orvieto Classico wine, Etruscan pottery, and its funicular. Dig just a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a city at war. It’s a sweet and creamy war.

It’s a gelato war.

In the beginning, there was Pasqualletti’s. They had a little shop on the Corso (main shopping street), just at the corner of Via del Duomo (the pathway that leads to the duomo). As far as I was concerned, Pasquelletti’s was synonymous with gelato in Orvieto.

Then I noticed battle lines being drawn in the form of a couple of bars proudly serving Sarchioni’s. I confess to having a soft spot in my heart for Sarchioni’s, having been to the “Mother Church” — their bar in Torre Alfina. In fact, I’ve been there often enough to become recognizable to its owners. I like everything about Sarchioni’s — the gelato, friendly people, gelato cakes (yes, I’ve had a couple), and the village of Torre Alfina.

But back to Orvieto …. when a Sicilian couple opened a tiny shop practically across the Corso from Pasquelletti’s original shop, I decided neutrality was the only answer. Call me Switzerland. Their sweet stuff hails from Sicily, where gelato was invented, and is just as good as (better than? I have to re-check that) the others.

But let’s be fair to the good people of Orvieto. They aren’t uniquely warlike, gelato-wise. The entire region is entrenched in this sweet war. A mere 30 minutes away, for example, in the small town of Bolsena, there’s yet another battle-worthy warrior: Santa Cristina’s.

Would that war were always so harmless.