In the weekend before Thanksgiving, I found myself returning to the region of Umbria to visit the city of Orvieto. Indeed, Umbria may be my favorite region north of Rome and, truly Italy’s New Hampshire, her mountains and small towns offer breathtaking views.
The funicular from the train station to the town proper drops you off at the top of the local castle. I’ll say that again: the local castle. I love the fact that not only is there such a thing, but that today it’s just another part of the town’s infrastructure. But the castle isn’t much compared to the twisty, turny streets of Orvieto.
The tree lined, cobblestone roads are wonderful, and give the town an intimate feeling. They twist around the town until they empty out at the local cathedral.
Orvieto’s cathedral has one of the most beautiful facades of the middle ages. A true Living Gospel, it’s painted with frescoes from the Bible, and is alive in color.
The stonework on the inside is also breathtaking. I love the different colored stoned that make up the columns and walls. It’s a bit stark, but this just makes the structure look grander inside.
The altar is also a vibrant explosion of color. I love these medieval altars and side chapels; the reds and oranges are warm and welcoming, and truly put the soul into a sort of ease and relaxation.
I will say this though about the Orvieto cathedral; it was the first cathedral that made be pay to enter. That doesn’t jive well with me. I know it is for the upkeep and restoration, but I hate the idea of paying to enter a church. What if I was a pilgrim? Would they turn me away? Shame.
Rant over, now we appreciate the local wildlife.
In America, the boars are descended from pigs that went wild. In Europe, the pigs are descended from boars that calmed down. As such, the famous boars of Orvieto are the peak of game meat.
Cinghiale alla cacciatora – boar cacciatore – is a wonderful local dish. See that knife on the side? Never used it. The pork pulled apart with a fork and was fantastically tender.
All in all a great trip northward. We, the group that is, took a picture on one of those older film cameras, and I took a trendy, hipstery picture of the picture.
I’m the one on the far right in the red flannel.
After the trip, a few of us decided to stop by the Vatican. It was the day before Christ the King, and so it was also the last day of the Jubilee. The square was packed in pilgrims all trying to get a last-minute moment inside the Cathedral.
So ends my jaunt in Orvieto. Until next time, and there will be a next time.
Nicholas Guarracino '18