Orvieto, Italy

We arrive in Paris; it was tight a connection on Alitalia until the flight was delayed by two hours and we spent too much money on airport food for lunch, but not by choice.  Welcome to travel.

We board and land in Rome, ready for our adventure.

First adventure: get the rental car, by walking through lots of tubular walkways like this one.  The Slow Travel website had a really good description of how to find these rental car counters, so I knew it was a long way away from our gate.

Into the car and out on the freeway.  Driving in a car around Rome was unusual, because like most tourists, I’d only ever traveled the downtown city center.  It was interesting to see where Romans lived (high rises) and also interesting to see these glass walls on the freeway.  The first time anywhere I think the sense of discovery runs very high and anything different or new is interesting, or at least worth taking a photo of.

Even dumb things like this tanker with interesting stars on the back of it.

Or beautiful things like these fields of sunflowers. We drove to Orvieto and looked for a place to park our car.  We drove around the top of the city (remember this is on a hilltown) three times, before finding a car park.

Then find our way to the hotel.

Dave checks us in. The name of the hotel is Albergo (Hotel) Fillippeschi and it’s on Via Filippeschi 19.

The bedroom.  It overlooked a fairly quiet street.

The bathroom.  Stuff stowed, we head out.  As usual our time zones are scrambled, so it’s stroll for a while until we feel we can do some dinner–usually later in these hilltowns.  We head for the Duomo, as we’ve heard it’s best to see it in the setting sun.

This isn’t a huge town, so we just meander our way over. We come upon the plaza, framed by the side streets.

The striped construction is so interesting–bands of dark and then light flagstone, according to Wikipedia.

The sun’s beginning to glint off the gold glass tiles in the mosaics.  We couldn’t take our eyes off of it.

For a comprehensive discussion of what is just touched on here, *this* website has a lot of great details about the cathedral.

(Imagine the previous photo hooked up with this one.)

We’re not the only ones who think this sight is worth something.  A row of older men sit across the plaza from the duomo chatting away.  From the looks of them, it’s a nightly occurrence in summer, I’d guess.

And on the other side, the distaff side of the town gathers to talk over their day.

We’re back to fascination with this cathedral.  Apparently there are three major cathedrals in this region: Sienna, Florence and Orvieto, but this one gets little attention, as compared to the others.  Certainly the city around it is not as compelling, and perhaps that’s why–size of town.  This is literally the top of a hill, and it’s not very big, whereas the others have spread out more.  But we find the front of this church, and its carvings entrancing, taking photo after photo (this is where a telephoto lens would have come in handy).

I suppose this one is the Creation, although I don’t know who the standing figures are on the left.

Spiraling bands of mosaic up the side pillars.  I’m thinking quilt patterns! It’s a loopy kind of spiral, not even and measured.

The pillars near the front door. You can see the loopiness in that one pillar more clearly.

Reaching out over the edge of the facade in the upper right is a bronze sculpture: the eagle representing John in the New Testament.

Above the huge front doorways are a rose window and another triangular mosaic.

This is taken from the alley across the street.  The plaza is not that large–sort of like Florence’s Duomo–hemmed in by buildings.  Remember that there is not a lot of real estate up here on this hill–not like Venice, which has a grand plaza in front of its cathedral.

Apparently the flying buttresses (seen at the far end of this picture–the curving line) were built to try and help with the distribution of weight.  Later they were found out to be pretty much useless.  This cathedral too over 300 years to build, so I’m sure there were a lot of committees working on this one.

A side door.  Love the green lintel.

These stripes I find, are quite striking, and highlight the architecture of this building.  Strong bold stripes that have lacy filigree bands create another kind of contrast.

We think we’re hungry now and head for dinner.  Three courses, and this is the first.  It’s like a taste of everything.

Pardon the half-eaten meals.  Sometimes we forget to take a picture at the beginning.  These gnocchi were the best I’ve every eaten, anywhere.

Somehow we got our wires crossed and they brought the cheese course.  I thought it would like 3 pieces, but it was a board with about 13 different kinds of cheese.  I told them I’d pay for it, but there was no way I was going to eat it.  Dave had dessert, though, and this is how it was served: a rolling trolley with clear covers over a variety of different desserts.  I had some fresh berries, and Dave chose this baked dessert, but I can’t remember what it was, or what the name of the restaurant was.  It was sort of kitty-corner from the Duomo, on our hotel side.

And this is what we saw when we came out after dinner.  I’m always struck by the color of the skies in Europe–such rich colors, unlike our insipid blah of Los Angeles area.  I suppose if we were on a hill somewhere, away from smog, lights and haze, we might actually get a sky like this.  Nah.

The next morning we, with out screwed up time zones, are up way before dawn, shower and dress and try to go for a walk.  Except they’ve locked the hotel front door and no one is at the desk.  Okay–what if there were a fire?  How would we get out now?  We explore a little, and back in the bar is a little door opens that leads to a little alley.  We’re out and can’t get back in until someone comes to man the desk.  This is the hotel; the woman is standing in the doorway and our room is above her, shutters closed.

A different kind of light shines on the buildings this morning, with different facades and buildings illuminated.  I like the two small windows by the central window, and the bas relief over the deep doorway.

This is supposedly the oldest building (after the cathedral).  The crenelation on that roof is quite interesting.

I love that these buildings have art on the exterior, with a very elegant frame.

I’m going to paint my doorway in bands, just like these.  Do you suppose they scavenged them from when the cathedral was being built?  Tthey are across the side plaza.

Coats of arms built into the building.

We’d seen this clock last night (it faces the side of the cathedral, next to the shop with the interesting black and white doorways).  We think the top contraption is a mechanical clock.

There is more to this town than the cathedral and we go exploring.

A perfect little Madonna and son tile embedded above a doorway.

Senso Unico=One Way.  That’s why we traveled around the town three times the night before trying to find a place to park.  Everytime we’d get close, one of these signs would direct us another direction.

Close-up of the little patio in the picture above.

I’m pretty fixated on mailboxes when I travel.  Someday I’ll do a post on nothing but mailboxes.

This little church wasn’t open, otherwise we’d have gone inside.  It is still quite early in the morning.

They do doorways really well in Italy.

The morning sun is beginning to bring the Italian colors alive, along with fake sunflowers blooming on a balcony above us.

The angles: up, down, slant, rounded, framed by a small alleyway.

Doesn’t the mossy texture on this church invite touch?  And that cross has its own tufts of grass–or lavender–growing up there.

These pictures are taken overlooking the surrounding countryside.

Now we’re back onto our street and are thinking–maybe breakfast?  We wanted to get a start this morning toward Pienza and visit some more hilltowns.  I love this balcony of flowers, but could never replicate them in our desert heat.  Even the arbor is well-defined in vining tendrils.

After breakfast, one last view from our hotel room, as people are starting their day.  We leave our luggage, and decide to try and see the interior of the cathedral.

Orvieto ESE We’re ready.

Orvieto Duomo Int1

I’m always surprised when an ornate exterior leads to an empty interior–much like the cathedral in Florence, I think.

Orvieto Duomo Int2

The Rose window from the inside.  I suppose if we’d been on a tour, they would have turned on all the lights to illuminate ceilings.  I’ve seen some of these photos on the web, but we take our sights as they come to us.

Orvieto Duomo Int3

Orvieto Duomo Int4

Frescos in the side chapel, dating from the Renaissance, about the 1300s according to some websites.

Orvieto Duomo Int5

Looking across the transcept.

Orvieto Duomo Ext.1

Walking down another street, this is the view from below of the backside of the cathedral.

Orvieto Ext 2

And back around the other side. We know the car’s meter is about up, so we head over to the car park plaza.

Orvieto 32

I’m a sucker for a good cobblestone alley; this is walking away from the Duomo.

Orvieto 33

It’s that interesting building again.

Orvieto 34

With a church across and a woman selling herbs and vegetables under her green striped umbrella.

Orvieto 35

Remodeling, Roman/Etruscan style.

Orvieto 36 DAE

Car’s packed, and we’re ready to go.

One thought on “Orvieto, Italy

  1. I loved Orvieto with its hilly, cobblestoned streets and that glistening, gold-fronted cathedral. Love your photos of the scenery, especially the doors. I have a thing for doors. And oh yes, the food too. I definitely have a thing for food. For some reason, some of the pictures don’t show up–they are just little rectangles. Anyone else have that problem?

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