Saturday, July 30, 2011


Orvieto is a well known stop on the tourist tour of Italian hill towns. However it is different from most as it it's on a level piece of ground making the old city flat and easy to walk compared to most.

The big rectangle is the Duomo, cathedral, which is the landmark in most of these cities. The approach road starts at the bottom of the hill in the industrial suburb below the old town and curls up the hill to the old streets at the top.

The city is built of tufa, or tuff, a porous dark brown rock easily cut into bricks.

Orvieto is known for it's white wine which old timers say has lost a lot of it's flavor since health laws prohibited the cellaring of of wine in the tufa caves under the city. Locals make a living as they can anyway.

This may be a historic city but laundry still needs to be done.

Historic cities, just like Key West have their drawbacks.

And their odd beauty even if scribbled upon.

And their obvious beauty.

Orvieto's name is derived from the Latin Urbs Vetus or 'ancient city' because it was old when the Romans showed up and it's strategic position on top of the vertical cliffs made it an important town in the Tiber Valley.

When Popes were forced to flee from Rome as they were from time to time, they might easily show up here to take refuge.

The cathedral when seen close up is made of an extraordinary collection of black and white stone. Pope Urban had it built to commemorate a miracle when a host, consecrated by a priest filled with doubt, started bleeding to prove it really was transformed per Catholic doctrine, into the body of Christ.

For those that know, not I, the cathedral is an exquisite work of art and is much admired. Orvieto is a well lived in city, full of life.

They sell all sorts of dust catchers, and I wanted to bring some of these home for gifts but I figured US Customs probably wouldn't be as amused as I was.

I stuck with the traditional sort of stuff I like to bring home, no meats because they are banned, but cheese will pass Customs inspection.

Emilio has been preserved meats and cheeses for years on the main drag of Orvieto. It is a stop we make every time we visit the city.

I of course lust after the meats I cannot take home.

Tipico really means traditional.

Emilio sells good stuff, not cheap, but he will vacuum pack any purchase for easy transport home.

Orvieto is stuck in my memory for the most curious of reasons. I remember coming to town one night with a group of friends to see a movie, any movie. That we happened upon la Cage Aux Folles dubbed into Italian as all foreign movies are, was pure happenstance. It is hard to stress the effect of that movie, known in English as the Bird Cage, on a group of homophobic young country lads. I still remember leaving the theater in a state of highly amused shock.

Tufa rock looks it's best at sunset I believe. The tower is a city landmark called La Torre Del Moro, the Moor's Tower, at the intersection of the two main streets.

While everyone was busy walking up and down the main street the lovely piazza in front of the astonishing cathedral was just about empty.

We skipped the main tourist spots, St Patrick's well and the like but we didn't miss the sunset.

The end of another glorious day in Umbria.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Anonymous said...

La Cage aux Folles?

Chuck and Wayne would be shocked.

Conchscooter said...

Like many school boys of that era I was a nasty little homophobe but prejudice is hard to maintain when you actually live with the objects you despise. Wayne and Chuck feel the same way about me now! Besides they are so goals to Cheyenne it behooves me to be nice to them...