In my search for Bernini (see About), I’ve begun in Orvieto, where I’m staying with friends. Orvieto is a beautiful Umbrian city on a hill. Actually, on a “tuff”—a name for the volcanic cliffs out of which the town rises above the countryside. It’s got a rich history, having been around since Etruscan times. The city flourished in the middle ages and is where Thomas Aquinas taught before moving to Rome to serve Pope Clement IV.
What it’s best recognized for today is the magnificent Duomo.
I’ll write more about the cathedral in a later post.
In my first week here, I strolled the streets of the town just to get a feel of Orvieto in Spring. The gente (people) walk out in the mornings and evenings, running errands or taking a passeggiata (walk about). What did I discover on my first “searching” outing? A lovely town, beginning to stir to life after a cold, dark winter. The tourists are arriving in greater and greater numbers, but there’s still a sleepy sense of quiet that this New Yorker is struggling embrace. I’m searching for Bernini, my passion, but what I’m finding in Orvieto is a sense of calm. Which, after my frenetic life in Manhattan, is probably a good thing. It’s a way to cleanse my creative palate as I begin my search….
The Corso Cavour is Orvieto’s main street, running East/West through the town. It’s where the cittadini (citizens) go to see and be seen.
It’s lined with shops and cafés, especially Umbrian specialties.
You might occasionally get the feeling you’re being watched…
But you can always duck into one of the many quiet alleyways.
Wandering to the west end of town, there’s a beautiful view over the tiled rooftops:
And the occasional hidden garden…
Returning toward my friends’ house (I’m staying with Linda Martinez and Steve Brenner, owners of the delightful Rome budget hotel, The Beehive), you pass through the Piazza della Reppublica and catch a glimpse of the 13th-century Torre del Moro, rising high above the town, and the bells of which peal out across the countryside each hour.
The Torre can be climbed for a magnificent view of the Umbrian countryside. And after scaling the 300 steps, a delicious reward awaits at the Trattoria del Moro-Aronne. I recommend the Umbricelli al Tartufo!