Day 15 – Orvieto and Pienza
- Barb: Views
- Mike: Backroads
- Jen: Green
- Barb: Stripey church
- Mike: Clever well
- Jen: Rolling hills
Three or Four Words
- Barb: Out in the country
- Mike: Ornate front, stripey sides
- Jen: Olive groves and vineyards
- Barb: I do love these lofty, soaring cathedrals (though they’re a bit chilly in March).
- Mike: Driving through the green Umbrian-Tuscan countryside on a sunny spring day. Note: Jen does not approve of this sentence fragment.
- Jen: I found a five-euro bill!
We had a lovely drive in the country today.
First stop: Orvieto, a town (you guessed it) built into and on a hill.
In addition to being a charming hill town with interesting paths, medieval stone structures, walls, cliffs, towers, domes, tiny homes and shops, and multiple churches, Orvieto has a splendidly ornate church: Duomo of Orvieto, 300 years in the making.
I love the contrast of the colorful, ornate facade with the striped sides. Beautiful! As always, I could spend hours just sitting and looking at all the details. The images tell the story of Christianity, from Creation to the Last Judgment, but what I liked best were the fillings: the detailed carvings and colorful mosaic patterns.
Yet another thing I especially like about the Duomo of Orvieto is the pamphlet they provide with details about who designed/built/painted what when. Very handy and interesting. And entertaining—for instance, “modernization of the Chapel began in 1622.” I’m unclear as to whether that’s been finished yet or not.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, so I can’t recall specifics, but it was pretty spectacular, too.
On the other side of town is the Pozzo di San Patrizio, a well built in the early 1500s to ensure the town had water in the event of an attack. The 203-foot well took ten years to build. It was cleverly designed to have two spiral staircases arranged in a double helix so, as in Brunelleschi’s Duomo, people going up would not have to contend with people coming down.
Then it was off to Pienza where we visited the pretty duomo that is literally falling off the edge of the hill (the guide book says “suffers from severe settling”). Inside, the floor slopes, and outside, there’s a big crack down the exterior wall where the apse end is slowly breaking away. Though the outside of the church is comparatively unspectacular, the inside was beautiful, especially the ceiling, and unlike the Duomo of Orvieto, we were allowed to take pictures here.
From a walkway along the edge of the town, we had a wonderful view of the countryside, which I think gives you a sense of the day’s beautiful drive.