Sunday, May 1, 2011

Let's just go take a quick look

We planned on heading to the west coast today, but on the way we saw yet another city built upon a huge mountain with impressive walls.“You want to give a look?” Diana asked.“Sure. Let’s take a quick look.”
What a find this turned out to be!

We drove around the city on the winding roads to discover that the city walls are cut out of the natural rock and here and there, man made walls have been added to the fortification. It’s almost a natural outgrowth of the natural rock extending some 300 to 500 feet straight up to the city itself. It’s hard to imagine that this fortress was ever conquered.

We emerged at one of the community parks and took a nice walk through it while marveling at the panoramic views from the top. It must be nearly 1,000 feet to the terrain below.

We walked about a mile to the town center with a beautiful cathedral standing dead center in an ancient piazza. Now I would never tell anyone not to visit Florence, but this is Florence in miniature with all of the modern shops and amenities without the crowds. Yes, there are people, but we had so much room to roam so that we did just that.

We naturally stopped for the required cappuccino and caffee Americano at a patio bar that had a splendid view of the Cathedral and just drank in the entire Duomo.

The cathedral is every bit as beautiful as the one we saw in Florence with gold leaf adorning the outside and zebra striped granite on the sides. We spent a good hour just gazing and shooting before exploring more of the town.

The shops and cafes were better I might add than anything we saw in Florence. In all fairness, we spent so little time in Florence due to the crowds that it might not be a fair comparison, but if you visit Italy, this Umbrian town is by far a better visit in our opinion,
I am still amazed at the sophistication of the fashion in these small towns. There is a level of sophistication in the cafes, shops and local craftsmen that boggles the mind.

The olive wood chess sets, cutting boards, etc. will knock you off your feet.

I had the pleasure of being sought out by an apparent inhabitant of this beautiful city on a mountain. The friendly Italian explained to me (in Italian) how the Cathedral was designed to be seen with a 360 degree view and that the arches were built for support. I nodded and smiled at him and at appropriate intervals assured him “capisco” (I understand)

We finally decided that we had better start home around 5:00 p.m. Fiorentino is an hour and half drive and the 6 hours we spent in Orvieto wore us out.
Diana remarked that “I have finally seen Italy.” I agreed. Orvieto is what I envisioned Italy is like.
Of course, we haven’t seen but a small portion of Tuscany and Umbria, but I doubt that much will cap this visit. Tomorrow, we will try again for the coast, nearly two hours away. Wednesday we pull up stakes and head for Bologna and a week there.
What a day of exploration this was!

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