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. . . Orvieto is a
favorite tourist spot for Italian visitors, and what attracts them
most is Orvieto's spectacular cathedral (duomo). It was built to
celebrate the miracle of Bolsena, a miracle that precipitated the
Feast of Corpus Christi in the Catholic Church. It took two
centuries to complete the cathedral, and it is one of Italy's gems.
Take time to take in the
Brizi Chapel, one of the most beautifully painted chapels in all
of Europe. Look at Luca Signorelli's fresco of the
Last Judgment, a painting from which Michelangelo drew
inspiration for his painting in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
When you enter or leave, stop outside and examine the
carvings of The Creation
The Last Judgment. You won't see such exquisite decorative
sculptures anywhere else.
When I spend several months in Orvieto, one of the things I
appreciate most is the wide array of cultural events going on. Apart
from the celebrated jazz festival they have every year between
Christmas and New Year's, Orvieto is alive with music and theater
throughout the year.
The Teatro Mancinelli is one of the loveliest theaters in all of
Italy, and seldom does a week go by that a major performance is
being put on there. This past year my wife and I enjoyed a series of
ten classical concerts, featuring some of the best musicians in
Italy, and we paid a few euros for each concert. The night before we
left Orvieto we were treated to a performance of Vivaldi's Four
Seasons in the Duomo performed by the Rome Philharmonic. And this
concert was free!
If you enjoy Italian cuisine, Orvieto will not disappoint you. I had
always heard that Bologna had the best cooking in all of Italy, but
I think Umbria is right there in the same class.
section of Italy has its own pasta, and in Orvieto
ombricchelli is the featured attraction. Order it with grated
truffles on top and you'll think you are in heaven rather than in
Italy. I shouldn't have to mention the wine, but I will in case you
haven't heard about it. Orvieto Classico is simply the best white
wine in Italy and a bottle of it at a local store will set you back
about five euros. In addition, a really well kept secret is how good
Umbrian red wine is. We eat out at least once or twice a week and we
eat better and cheaper than we ever do in the states. Try
La Palomba or La Pergola for great Orvietan cooking and then
stop in the kitchen and compliment the chef.
have been going back to Orvieto for four years now, we have made
many friends there. We had been told that the Orvietans perhaps were
a little stiff, a little closed to foreigners. Don't believe it! All
the small shop owners know us and greet us with warm smiles. Rarely
do we walk through town without a "salve" from one of the locals.
When I stop in the Bar Duomo, the owner Marino, along with his wife Gabriella and
daughter Donatella, welcome me with warmth and humor.
On a leisurely day, there is nothing like stopping for a hot
cappuccino or a glass of Marino's own Orvieto Classico. If you stay
in Orvieto for a week or two and return to any of the restaurants a
second time, you will be greeted like a long lost friend. It's good
Orvieto is a walking city so you can indulge yourself with the
pastas and desserts.
Finally, be sure that you stay overnight in Orvieto. The town takes
on its own character after five o'clock. Between Piazza della
Republica and Piazza Duomo, you will become part of the best
passeggiata in Italy. It seems that the entire town comes out to
enjoy a stroll through the quiet streets. Even better is to walk
through the medieval section after you have eaten dinner. The yellow
street lights cast a golden hue over the cobblestones and the tufa
stone, and without much effort you can imagine yourself back in the
twelth century. Off in the distance you might see a train hustling
its way up to Florence, or better still, you will hear the solemn
bells of San Giovenale ringing their special Orvieto welcome for you.
Enjoy the moment, for you won't find it anywhere else.`
Orvieto travel notes by Lorenzo R.