Orvieto and Spoleto

22 Sep

This week Claudia and Ev were in Venice for work so we had the farm to run by ourselves. Our farm includes 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of grapes, a vegetable garden, herb and rose garden, orchard, 3 turkeys, 7 geese, 2 ducks, 12 chickens, 7 chicks, 2 german shepards and a Lorenzo (our 18 year old host brother)! It’s practically a full-time job just herding the birds into their cages, let alone feeding them, maintaining the wine that’s still in the fermentation process and keeping a teen-aged boy feed and (at least semi) happy. This week we weeded, dead-headed and pruned back the gardens and put up little Styrofoam protectors on every single vine to protect them from the tractor when we till the land between the rows. We also have to ‘punch down’ the red wine twice or thrice a day. (Side note: I love the word thrice, partly because my grandma used to say it and partly because I love The Golden Girls episode centered around it!) ‘Punching down’ the wine is essentially just stirring it to make sure the ‘cap’ or the top level of grape skins that are fermenting with the wine stay wet.

We worked after lunch (gasp!) a couple days to take yesterday and today off to visit some towns in our area. Orvieto was great! We got the combined ticket for the duomo, cathedral, and most of the museums in town. For 7.50 euro we were able to see the beautiful frescos in the chapels of the duomo, great marble statues with detail that was awe inspiring, fresco after fresco in the museum and architecture that puts ours to shame. My favorite part of the city was how they’ve changed many of the old churches into museums. It seems crazy that a town with 20,000 people should have 5-7 massive churches in this day in age. This may be the land of Catholics, but it seems far fetched that they would be enough parishioners with enough tithing to keep them open and with a priest. Instead, in Orvieto, many of the churches have become the permanent home to statues, frescos, paintings and other works of art. Considering many of the churches are masterpieces in and of themselves I find it a very resourcful was to maintain history while moving towards the future. We also went on our first tour here! Orvieto, like most of the cities in Umbria, is built on a mountaintop. Unlike many of the cities, Orvieto was built ontop of an already existing city and thus there are underground caves to explore. While many of the caves belong to private families now (most used as wine cellars) we were able to tour two and see underground pigeon homes, olive oil presses and wells. It was very interesting. We had a budget of 40 euro with a packed lunch and it was doable. The most expensive thing was paying to park!

To remedy that situation we parked in a grocery store parking lot for free today! Ha! It’s way worth the extra half a mile walk to save 10 euros. Spoleto felt smaller, but apparently has a bigger population that orvieto. We visited the ‘Rocca’, an impressive stone fortress built by order of the pope in the 1300’s then used as a home for the high-ranking city officials and to house soldiers in time of war. It later became a maximum security prison and recently (the 1980s) was converted into a museum and cultural center. Following our guide book, we walked across this spectacular bridge added to an already existing Roman aqueduct. I continue to be amazed at how this ancient civilizations were able to complete such architectural feats, the bridge is almost 300 feet above the ravine! On the other side it said there was an 800 meter walk to this grassy area with a great view… 1,600 meters and a mountain climb later the next sign  said we were only half way so we turned back. We did run into some German hikers on the way down and they said the sign meant 800m elevation and we were only 100m up the mountain to start with. Know this about Italy, they are never accurate or consistent with the measuring of any distance-ever. We chalked that one up to a nature-hike. Another combined ticket got us into all the museums in Spoleto. The Duomo, Casa Roma, the architectural museum and several others throughout the city, these combined tickets are proving well worth it. Maranda and I had a budget of 20 Euros today since there were fewer things that we had to pay for and we came in under that after buying 2 tickets and some Gelato to make up for the nature hike! We are thoroughly enjoying being able to travel and have a home base so we can just take a day pack, I am especially enjoying my first trip across the Atlantic and Maranda and I are definitely enjoying Italy

Here we are in front of the bridge/aqueduct

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2 Responses to “Orvieto and Spoleto”

  1. Mom September 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    What a weekend trip, sounds like it has been fabulous!!! Continue to have a great time!!! Love you both!!

  2. Beth September 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I will probably never get there, so thanks for sharing your travels!

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