RINGING IN THE NEW YEAR AT ROCCA DI BENANO
I’m always a little jealous of our guests at Rocca di Benano, but that feeling is particularly acute this week because our guests get to celebrate the arrival of the New Year in one of my favorite spots on earth. Why am I jealous? Let me count the ways.
The weather’s mild. Daytime highs are around 50 degrees there. We’re looking at a week in the low 30’s here in Ohio.
Capodanno (New Year’s) is very festive in Orvieto, a city with irresistible charm even without special events or holiday merriment. At this time of year, the world-renowned Umbria Winter Jazz Festival is in full swing, so music is everywhere. This post describes the festival as a “6-day party.” Researching the Jazz Festival inspired me to put together a Pinterest Board about music festivals in Central Italy. I want to go. Now.
It’s not as if I’m not enjoying gorging on all the Christmas cookies around the house, but I have a hankering for a cenone, an over-the-top meal that many restaurants offer on New Year’s Eve. These are generally fixed-price, fixed-menu feasts that come with all the trimmings — numerous courses, prosecco, and sometimes entertainment to boot. Here’s the mouth-watering description of how diners at Zeppelin, one of our favorite restaurants in Orvieto, will celebrate New Year’s Eve. Now I’m betting you’re jealous, too.
The Christmas season in Italy doesn’t begin to wane on December 26th as it does in the States. Rather, it continues until January 5, when La Befana, a mythical old woman who delivers gifts to Italian children, arrives in the night. So during this extended Christmas season, there will be a live nativity scene in Civita di Bagnoregio, that is supposed to be spectacular. A resident of Bagnoregio told me that “Civita becomes Bethlehem.” Civita is about a half-hour away from Benano and well worth the visit even without Bethlehem.
As much as anything else, I’m sorry to be missing the small events that I don’t even know I’m missing. Our wonderful next-door neighbor Pavla promised to keep her eyes open for festivals and small-town events that our New Year’s guests might be interested in attending. She’s always in the know about happenings in the area, so I encouraged our guests to go next door to ring her bell and see what she is up to. I hope they do. I wish I could.
I trust our guests are having a wonderful vacation in Benano, and I know we will have a wonderful New Year’s Eve with our friends at home. But a little piece of my heart will be out at the village overlook, watching the firework displays across the broad valley below.