Orvieto, Italy- Share your photos of this hilltop city

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Gargoyle, Feb 13, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Gargoyle
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    Orvieto is an ancient hill town one hour north of Rome, on the train route to Florence. It makes for a wonderful four hour visit, or a relaxing overnight stay. It was a very prominent place in the middle ages due to its commanding location overlooking the trade route. The town dates back to Etruscan times, and much of the center of town was built six to eight hundred years ago.
    Orvieto-rooftops.jpg

    After we got off the train from Rome we stopped at the newsstand to get a funicular (cable car) ticket. We then rode the funicular railroad up the side of the mountain, and then rode a mini bus up steep, narrow streets to our hotel in the main square in front of the Cathedral. You can also park in the covered lot at Campo della Fiera, (about €6 per day) and take a series of escalators and elevators to reach the town.
    Orvieto-funiculare.jpg

    I suggest you buy the tourist pass at that newsstand when you first arrive at the train station. It gives you a round trip on the funicular railway and mini-bus, and entrance to
    the four main tourist attractions, including the Cathedral, the Museo Faina (an archelogical and art museum), the Torre di Moro (250 steps to climb to the top for a beautiful view, but if you take
    the elevator to the second floor you only have to climb 167 steps) and the Orvieto Underground. This labyrinth of underground caves and tunnels were dug over a period of 3000 years by the residents of
    Orvieto. They provided food cellars and a hiding place during the frequent sieges the town underwent in the midle ages. They raised pigeons as a sustainable food source for these siege periods, since the pigeons could venture out, eat, and return. You can take an evening tour, and finish it up with dinner in the ancient wine cellars of the old convent. They are fascinating to tour; learn about them at http://www.orvietounderground.it/

    Orvieto-pigeon-holes.jpg
    The cathedral of Orvieto is an incredible building. Construction began in 1290 and took 300 years. There are loads of gargoyles protruding from the building, but many visitors overlook them
    because the facade is so stunning and overwhelming. It is completely covered with carved marble and inlaid mosaics. The marble columns are twisted in elaborat forms which nowadays would require complex computer software to define, yet the carvers in the 14th century laid them out with calipers and string. Inset in the twists are precise geometric mosaic patterns.

    orvieto-lookup.jpg
    Inside the cathedral are the famous fresco paintings by Luca Signorelli, depicting the saved souls ascending to heaven and damned souls being assaulted by devils. Fresco is a technique where the artist spreads wet plaster on the wall, and then paints on the plaster. The paint soaks in to the plaster, which then dries to give a very hard, durable surface. The white of the plaster blends with the paint to create bright, rich colors.

    Signorelli's frescos are noteworthy for the dramatic use of perspective. Realistic perspective was something very new and dynamic in his time so these pictures where startling to the eyes of his contemporaries. Signorelli was quite a character- his pay for one years work in Orvieto included all the local wine he could drink. One of the damned souls in these frescos is a portrait of a local woman whom he had briefly dated before she dumped him.

    After visiting the cathedral we strolled over to the Antico Trattoria Etrusca for lunch, and had a delicious local minestrone soup which is not to be missed. In the center of the restaurant is a massive octagonal stone column, supporting the arched vaulting of the ceiling. Our waiter told me the column is 800 years old; I come from Chicago, where 80 year old buildings are considered obsolete relics and are frequently torn down to make way for new strip malls and townhouses. Orvieto-Trattoria-Etrusca.jpg

    The door handles of the Trattoria Etrusca are carved wood grotesque figures.
    I have lots of photos of the Orvieto Duomo (cathedral) and the local in the
    Gargoyles of the World section of my site.
    http://stonecarver.com/gargoyles/orvieto.html

    We stayed at the Virgilio hotel across from the cathedral; we had a tiny room with a great view of the cathedral out our window, and it was quite reasonably priced. The only thing wrong with it was that the shower
    door is only 13" wide; I had to turn sideways to squeeze in! The hotel even has a facebook page.
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/HOTEL-VIRGILIO-ORVIETO/167355753802

    Lots more info can be found at the Orvieto Online tourist information site http://www.orvietoonline.com/
     
  2. Gargoyle
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    Orvieto-Mr_and_Mrs_Gargoyle.jpg
    Mrs. Gargoyle kissing a Gargoyle

    Orvieto-shower.jpg
    The tight shower at our hotel

    orvieto-bacchus.jpg

    orvieto-caryatid.jpg

    Orvieto-niche.jpg
     
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  3. Gargoyle
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    Orvieto-tower-stairs.jpg
    Stairs at the Torre di Moro

    Orvieto-cathedral-interior.jpg
    The Cathedral interior. Note that every column capital is different, and the geometry of those capitals is amazing.

    Orvieto-doorway.jpg

    Orvieto-graffitto-wall.jpg

    Orvieto-piazza-doorway.jpg
     
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  4. ChgoBob
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    ChgoBob Silver Member

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    Nice pictures!
    We made a day trip to Orvieto from Florence, as well as Perugia the next day, and then .Arezzo. I'm not sure I want to see steep hills for a while.

    All were great towns to walk and have lunch.

    DSC00387 (Medium).JPG


    DSC00388 (Medium).JPG
     
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  5. Italy98
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    Italy98 Silver Member

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    Bringing back memories! :)
     
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  6. scoow
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    scoow Silver Member

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    You don't look a thing like your avatar! ;)
    Sounds like a great trip.
     
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  7. Mrs Cholula
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    Mrs Cholula Silver Member

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    Hey, Gargoyle. Best thing to do is soap the walls and spin.
     
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  8. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    The Best is the "Closed for Maintenance" sign in one of your photo's. Now, how on earth did you ever find that 4-leaf clover in the large field???
     
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  9. Gargoyle
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    A friend once photographed a hand written sign in Italian and English taped to the door of the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence. I don't recall the exact wording (I have a copy somewhere), but it was something to the effect of:

    Due to a possible employee meeting, it is possible that we might open late today.

    Could you imagine that on such a major museum in any other country in the world?
     
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  10. cockpitvisit
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    cockpitvisit Gold Member

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    Amazing photos!

    Would you consider posting a link to this thread in trip reports?
     
  11. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    During the winter, I dropped my friends off at Treviso airport for a Ryanair flight (poor souls)- taped over the monitors was a handwritten piece of paper which simply read "Chiuso". Needless to say, they ended up buying a BA full fare one way ticket back to London 2 days later. Fog... And don't even THINK about EC regulations :)
     
  12. Gargoyle
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    Ryanair doesn't care about EC regulations. CX, MX, WX, none of it matters. You're SOL.

    I recall one summer when I went to the bus stop to catch a bus to the beach. Hand written sign, "Sciopero 12:00- 1500" (on strike from noon to 3 p.m.). I got to the beach, and saw a lineup of empty buses, drivers were down on the beach. [​IMG]
     
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  13. TRAVELSIG
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    And isn't a co-incidence how many strikes occur adjacent to a "ponte" (Long-Weekend). Odd.
     
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  14. Gargoyle
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    That's why they call us MilePontes.
     
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  15. Mrs Cholula
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    Mrs Cholula Silver Member

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    Gargoyle, your photographs are outstanding. The one of the staircase actually made me dizzy. [​IMG]
     
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  16. Gargoyle
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    I can't recall if I was looking up from the bottom or down from the top when I shot it. [​IMG]
     
  17. TRAVELSIG
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    Well, we could be called even worse!
     
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  18. Mrs Cholula
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    Mrs Cholula Silver Member

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    We were flying LAX to VCE via CDG. The day before our flight, Air France called to say we would be late leaving CDG because of a strike. Weird.
     
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  19. TRAVELSIG
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    Not weird at all? Why weird?
     
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  20. Mrs Cholula
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    Mrs Cholula Silver Member

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    It was weird because it was from noon to 3:00. Most strikes aren't usually so specific about times.
     
  21. Gargoyle
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    Yes they are. Italian strikes are like that, and are generally scheduled weeks in advance. There are a couple websites which post the schedules. Here's one that shows that the FA's for Meridiana Airlines have a strike planned for Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the pilots have a 24 hour strike that day. So, if the FA's cross the pilot picket line, they get paid and don't have to work. It's a maximum ROI strike system for the employees- they do maximum disruption to the company with minimum disruption to the employees. As you experienced, the customer disruption is also reduced because of the planning and short duration.
     
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  22. scoow
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    scoow Silver Member

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    Down from the top... your shoe is at the bottom of the picture. ;)
     
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  23. ChgoBob
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    ChgoBob Silver Member

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    Gargoyle has been known to hang upside down from rafters like a bat.............
     
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