Living in Rome sounds romantic but can be exhausting. Apart from the never-ending chaos, beeping horns and cars trying to run you over when you cross on a green pedestrian light, the yelling, arguing and chatting (sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference with Italians!), there are so many thousands of tourists every day that it doesn’t really feel like it’s Italy any more. Sometimes it feels more like it’s Disneyland, without the rides. (See exhibit A – At the Trevi Fountain).
I know I’m a tourist too, but I am always on the hunt for less touristy places I can visit, near to but out of Rome. Umbria is that place for me. It’s generally left off the list of tourists spending only a few days in Italy and it’s definitely overshadowed in fame by la bella Toscana (Tuscany). Apart from not having a coastline I think Umbria is equally as beautiful as Tuscany. For me, Umbria is quite refreshing to visit, especially when its seems to have more Italian tourists than foreign tourists. Although this may not be so true during internationally famous festivals like Eurochocolate or Umbria Jazz.
We originally set out to Orvieto on a truffle tasting expedition (Umbria is famous for its truffles) and were pleasantly surprised with what we found on our arrival. I mean, who wouldn’t be impressed by a peaceful Umbrian village precariously perched on a hill which, unfortunately for the residents, has been slowly eroding for the past 2500 years. Orvieto dates back to the time of the Etruscans (you can see evidence of the pre-Roman engineering they used in the grottos underneath this village), is accessed by funicular and where we ate the most delicious truffle pasta ever, washed down with a wonderful Umbrian white wine. All less than two hours by train from Rome.
In the heart of Orvieto is the most beautiful cathedral I have seen in Italy. The Duomo (Cathedral) of Orvieto is worth stopping for at least a quick look. Adorned with intricate friezes, amazing frescoes and a stunning stained glass window, not to mention beautiful detailing like this:
Then there were the mesmerising stripes that covered the sides of the Cathedral. No wonder it took over 3 centuries to build.
The clock in the main square was stuck on 3:50, giving a feeling that time wasn’t so important to the inhabitants of a village which has been around for millennia.
You can’t escape the modern-day reality of junk mail anywhere these days. Even if you do have beautifully matching post boxes and cats who keep a watch over everything that goes on.
Orvieto is a village where even the graffiti tells a love story.
For every day and every night,
for every awakening,
it can’t finish…
I love you Cipollotta