August `9 - The Hill Town of Orvieto

Breakfast is included in the price here at our accommodation and included toast, yogurt, croissants, and cereal. We started our day with a walk to the funicular to tour St. Patrick's Well. Completed in 1537 to supply water to the town, it has two concentric spiral staircases that never cross. An audio guide gave us historical information during our visit. I was amazed to discover that no guard rails protected countless openings around the well where you could peer way down into its mysterious depths as you wound your way to the bottom. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to walk up and down those ramp like steps carrying buckets of water.

Lunch was a Montannucci where you can choose from delicious salads and eat them in their tiny garden. In the heat of the day people are taking refuge in the cathedral, in the shade of buildings, or in their air conditioned hotels. People look positively wilted in the heat here which we have learned is record temperatures. They trudge across the piazzas and slump down on the nearest shaded bench. This heat has not stopped a young accordion player and his wife begging for handouts. It seems as if every time we go out, there they are putting a plastic empty gelati cup in our face while being serenaded.

Right across from the cathedral is the Museo Claudio Faina and Museo Civico. It has a great collection of Etruscan pottery all excavated in this area. Touring the museum provides up close and impressive views of the Duomo.

Orvieto is an interesting town to window shop. Shops vary from colorful ceramic displays for the tourists to fashionable clothing. Here and there are tiny trattorias or cafes. Some have attempted English translations which are very helpful until I read "Buns to stuff pizza." I think it's best though to be prepared with a dictionary and the locals appreciate one's efforts.

After a light dinner of pizza and tomatoes with mozzarella, we attended a magnificent concert in the Duomo performed by a choir from Cambridge, England. Much to our surprise there was no charge. With a setting with perfect acoustics, it was a festive ending to our day.


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