Friday June 5 – Exploration of Orvieto!
I woke up at 8:30 am feeling utterly refreshed. When I opened that window/door behind me to welcome the morning air and the views of the garden, I couldn’t help but feel completely relaxed for the first time in what felt like a lifetime. There was no thoughts about anything but relaxation and of course, breakfast. As I recall from the prior time (10 years ago) I was in Europe, breakfast is mainly meat, cheese and bread. If there was ONE thing I was looking forward to on this trip, it was breakfast. The fresh baked bread, the prosciutto and salami that seemed to have the perfect amount of salt, the cheese that with one bite had enough flavor to last me an entire trip and the butter, OH THE BUTTER!!! It tasted like it had just been churned. Spreading a whole packet on my two halves of bread and topping each side with a slice of cheese, prosciutto and salami – and sometimes jam which is weird I know – and then taking my first bite of a European breakfast in 10 years. Heaven. On. Earth.
I got a little greedy and decided to try the yogurt and muesli, which don’t get me wrong were better than anything I have in the US but just didn’t compare to my meat, cheese, butter and bread. The rest of the time was just that. And maybe a croissant or two my last 2 days 🙂
Now that I had been fed, it was time to explore Orvieto!!! I step outside of my B&B and it hits me again. I am in Italy, alone. My Italian journey that was 10 years in the making is finally happening. I am living my dream. As I walk down the cobblestone to the main street I can’t help but think of Eat, Pray, Love and all the magical things that happened, hoping that I would be able to feel some of that magic myself. Walking along the Corso (main street), passed the caffes, restaurants, boutiques, gelato stands….yeah…I just get lost in it all.
I take a right up to the touristy part of Orvieto in search of the tourist information booth so that I could buy my ticket to the, shall we say, attractions of the city. As I get closer to the square, I see a Duomo for the first time in my life. Holy. Shit. Magic hits right there. I stand in awe as I can’t even get the whole thing in my picture frame. I stare at the intricacy of this, this, this…I don’t even know what to call it because it’s way more than a building, more than a church, more than architecture. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Every structure in America suddenly looked very boring to me.
When I head inside I can’t help but feel at peace, calm and centered as I walk around and stare in awe at the beautiful paintings on the walls, the ceilings, the floor, everywhere! Paintings EVERYWHERE!
I will never look at a church the same way after seeing this.
The next stop on my exploration day 1 was the underground caves. I had about 20 minutes to kill and was feeling pretty hungry since it had been a few hours since breakfast so what do I go do?
Gelato for lunch? YES PLEASE! Chocolate chip, banana and vanilla and I don’t even know what those gummies were but it didn’t matter. They were heaven. Everything was heaven to me. Now being that it was 90 degrees, I scarfed it down pretty quick and headed back towards the meeting place for the caves.
Read more about it here: http://www.orvietounderground.it/index.php/en/orvieto-underground-en/the-discovery
Basically Orvieto is on top of a vast underground cave system. I wasn’t that impressed with the tour because it was very short but I was more fascinated by the fact that the people of Orvieto were able to dig this massive underground cave and tunnel system, with nothing really but large picks and axes. That well on the bottom right was built in that shape so that the workers could shimmy up and down as they dug deeper and deeper until they hit water. The use of the wells was how they were able to supply the city with water as it is built on a cliff. The top left which looks like it could hold wine was actually to raise pigeons for food. Can’t imagine eating a pigeon but to each their own. The upper right was where they made their own olive oil and let me tell you, the olive oil in this region, OH MY GOD I COULD HAVE DRANK IT. 🙂
When we came out of the caves I was in awe, again, at the view that this city has.
Now at this point I was feeling a bit restless so I decided to throw on my running shoes and explore the side of the cliff and into the valley. Normally I listen to music the entire time I run so that I can drown out noise and distract myself from either the pain of running or the monotony but here there was no need for it. The sound of the birds, the sound my shoes with each step as they hit the dirt and rocks, the sound of the breeze against the trees, the sound of the damn sun for all I knew was more than enough reason for me to go sans music. I was in heaven. I found a staircase, ran up it a few times, did some squats, lunges, burpees and push ups and just basked in the 90 degree weather with only a cloud or two in the sky.
Next up was my Siesta. My waterfall shower. My comfy bed. The breeze coming in through the window. A quick journal entry. A quick whatsapp chat to my parents. A quick nap. And then…a pre dinner cappuccino. I toured the Corso looking for the best spot for an afternoon cappuccino while I watched the world go by.
Cappuccino quickly became my favorite thing on the trip, next to breakfast of course. There is something about the milk, full fat mind you, that is just a taste bud teaser. Maybe it is the sweetness or maybe it was the fact that it was mostly coffee and a little bit of milk instead of the other way around like it is in America so it gives you just enough of the good stuff.
As I sat there sipping my cappuccino I couldn’t help but think about the difference in lifestyle between Europeans and Americans. Granted I was on vacation so I had a different perspective but life seems slowed down there and appreciated more. I ate slower, I walked slower, I drank slower, I talked slower, I ran slower :-), I just existed slower.
And I ate this as slow as I possibly could because it was the best pizza I have ever had in my entire life.
I had dinner at a lovely outdoor restaurant called Charlie. The crust is made in house which is fairly common even in America but I SWEAR they put something different in it or leave something out because the dough here doesn’t even compare to the dough there. And the freshness of the ham, the arugula, the cheese. God I don’t even know what kind of cheese was on that thing but it was savory and scrumptious. Bite by bite I would breathe in to get the most flavor imaginable and even then I felt there was more to taste. The house red wine was better than any non house red wine I’ve had in the states and it was about 3 euro. Score. I’ll have two glasses please.
I sat there checking out the map of Orvieto and planning day 2 of my journey. Every day just got better and better and the views, I keep mentioning it, the views were to die for. 🙂