Quite how we ended up in Orvieto we still aren’t sure. Mr B had suggested Ostia which I had mis remembered and said “It’s Orti something” when Jonnie asked where we should go the following day. Google produced Orvieto and once Jonnie had read the Wikipedia page for the town we were sold.
It was just under a two hour drive from Camping Fabulous where we are staying with Canvas Holidays this week, but the drive through the Italian countryside did its very best to distract us and make it seem much less than that. Fields of sunflowers, towns perched on cliffs, meandering rivers, distant hills, we got to see it all.
Orvieto is one of those towns built up on the top of a hill, well what it actually is: “… is situated on the flat summit of a large butte of volcanic tuff.” A spectacular sight that you don’t get to see until you are fairly close to it. It is 1000ft above the valley floor. As suggested on line we parked at the train station, for free, and jumped on the furnicular railway for 6 Euros. You can then either walk into the town from there, or do what we did and catch the bus (included in the price of your train ticket).
Dominating the town’s square is the Duomo, or Catherdral. It took 300 years to build and it is easy to see why. As you get off the bus (or round the final corner as you have walked up the hill) it takes your breath away. So big it is hard to get it all in one photograph, but I tried
And so it is the window in the centre of the facade that I have picked for Window Wednesday this week. Though there have been so many windows, and doors, oh my word the doors, that I could have picked but this one may take some beating for sheer beauty. And size.
Ditto the ice cream we had just before going inside. I had been tipped off by Anna from The Imagination Tree that the ice cream from the Gelateria to the side of the catherdral was “the best in the world”. Now that is a bold claim, and I feel I have eaten enough of it to judge so we couldn’t refuse testing it out. Anna, you are not wrong. Made on site by the family, creamy, full of incredible flavour it really was delicious. And melted in minutes outside in the 34 degree heat!
To try and escape some of the heat we did an underground tour of the town (around 7 Euros a head and lasts an hour). Running out of space for businesses the townsfolk dug caves underground so the ground above could be used for housing. There are thousands of these underground caves, many of which have not yet been excavated but those that have are now accessible and show some of the industries that were run underground. Such as olive oil pressing or wine stores. Astonishing to think that there was such a subterranean network when there is no evidence of it above ground, or from the road as you approach. Especially when you also remember that it was all dug out by hand too.
If you are ever near Rome I do recommend you come and find this little gem.
Window Wednesday is my weekly look through, or at a window I have thought was interesting