Around the time I left Cortana I was feeling some serious travel burnout. Orvieto was my next stop and I didn’t feel like doing a damn thing, but I made myself take the funicolare up to town anyway.
Orvieto is a short train ride northwest of Rome and a minor tourist attraction. It sits on top of a tuff cliff. Tuff is a type of volcanic rock. Way before you were born, way before... way, way before you or your ancestors were born, a volcanic eruption threw giant chunks of rock into the air. Orvieto now sits on top of one of these hurled hunks of tuff. Geologists believe it was thrown into the air, forming the crater that is now nearby Lake Bolsena.
That’s probably the only geology lesson you’ll ever get from me.
I had to stay in the cheapest hotel I could find. The name of the place was the Hotel Aquafredda. They had a pool. I used it once for five minutes. The aqua was fredda.
They had a great breakfast included in the price of stay, lots to choose from. The owner will make you as many coffee drinks as you want to ingest. I struggled to communicate to him and his young assistant that I wanted a cafe latte, not a cappuccino. I didn’t want all the foam. Eventually the word eschuma was said by one of them and I remembered that I’d recently learned that the word means foam in Italian. “Caffe e latte, no eschuma!”
He was such a nice older man and his young assistant apologized, explaining that he is learning English. I told him his English is better than my italian. I wanted the old man’s name to be Geppetto but, alas, it was Fausto.
The hotel, like many of the hotel/B&Bs was in one of the towns at the base of the cliff. The pic below is from the hotel driveway. The ancient part of Orvieto sits atop the cliff in the background.
The easiest way to get up to Orvieto is to pay about 1.50 Euros to ride the Funicolare (funicular in English) up to it. It’s a type of train operated by cable, counterbalanced by ascending and descending cars.
That’s the first and last public transportation lesson you’ll ever get from me. You can see the station in the picture below and the track going up the mountain. It’s conveniently located across the street from the train station.
A group of college students on a class trip boarded the Funicular at the same time as me. They looked like they were in high school, but they went to college in Austin, Texas.
The pic below is a statue in Orvieto near the Funicular station at the top.
I followed the class to the Duomo.
I’ve seen my share of Duomos in the past few weeks, and I gotta say that this is my favorite of all the Duomos.
I overheard who I assume to have been a guide telling her private client that she was married in this church. It’s not just a place for tourists to take pictures. It’s been the woman’s church all of her life. As you can see from the above picture, she can probably have her funeral here as well.
The architect designed an optical illusion into the chapel. It becomes more narrow the closer you get to the alter so that the room seems longer.
Luca Signorelli painted the Frescos in the Duomo. Michangelo was a student of his work. According to Rick Steves, Michangelo studied the way Signorelli told stories with his paintings.
This room was nuts! It reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s the illustrated man, but it was a room. It was like walking into a graphic novel depicting judgement day.
From what I could gather, the left side of the room depicted the people that got their ticket punched for Heaven. The right side, wasn’t so lucky... H-E-Double hockey sticks for them it was, I tell ya’!
The pics below are of another room of frescos. One room was on each side of the alter. This room hasn’t held up as well through the years.
These pics below are taken on the Northern edge of town.
Orvieto also has an elaborately built well with a double helix staircase. It’s called St. Patricks well, it was built by a pope hundreds of years ago (well, he didn’t build it. He told other people to build it, and they did because he was the pope.) It’s over five hundred steps to the bottom. I was too lazy to walk down a well and too cheap to pay for it so I did neither.
There’s also an ancient underground cave system under the town as well as a couple other attractions, but I didn’t really give a hoot about any of them, so I sat in my hotel room and enjoyed the comfort of sleeping in a bed that wasn’t surrounded by five to ten other beds.