Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Heading North to Orvieto

There wasn't another square inch in their auto
after packing it for the seven of us and all our junk!
Good job guys!

We drove over 1700 miles in Italy during the past week. I must say that the freeway driving is much better than in town. Also it gets more like what we are use to the farther north one gets. All the major highways are toll roads and we paid over 150 Euro within the week. I am amazed we don’t have that going on more in the US. On our trip north we went to several smaller towns which were just delightful.

Our first stop was Orvieto, a wonderful town not far north of Rome. I think it was our favorite of all the places we visited this time. Orvieto is not a tourist town on the grand scale but, it should be. Orvieto is a double-decker town. Right in the middle of this quaint little place is a very high mountain from which you can see vistas like you would not believe. In earlier times the Popes found this to be a perfect get away from the noise, blistering heat and dust of Rome. It is so much cooler, prettier, and some even resorted to doing all their Papal duties from Orvieto.

Getting the tram tickets

For one Euro you can take a tram to the top. It is just a short ride and very beautiful. It moves something like the elevator on the Eiffel Tower. It goes up diagonally with the floor of the tram remaining parallel to the ground, hugging the cliffs so you don’t feel like you are hanging from a basket over a big precipice. The ride is swift and short and that is how I like those kinds of things. To the left of the station there is a walled castle area with lookout points used to protect and defend the city in days gone by. Walking out on these points is like truly having a bird’s eye view of the whole area. It is no wonder the Popes felt secure here. You could see the enemy approaching for miles around with a 360 degree view. What you see today are the most beautiful green smaller mountains and rolling hills, vineyards, the lower deck of the city, and the city wall which remains intact to this day. The large stones are covered with this gorgeous moss and you truly feel you are someplace special. When you could cast your eyes upon this vista you knew you didn’t mind all the rain as much, knowing that it produced such eye candy for the heart and soul.

Entering the castle walls for the view below

The mossy fortress walls

The first view was a little disappointing~we were on top of the fog!

Then the fog started to quickly lift and we saw this!

Note the little red swing!

For that same Euro you pay at the bottom of the mountain you can get a free pass to ride the bus to the Duomo of Orvieto and the main piazza. I like that they do not try to gouge you on this ride, they could if they were so inclined. Off the Piazza you will find great shopping on their little alleyways and during the winter there is an ice rink just for kids, where Spencer and Ross tried their luck at ice skating for the first time. They had a ball and so did we as we watched them get pretty good at it in short order. The fearless factor does wonders for acquiring this new skill. Jim, Gloria and Robert and the boys also went on a cave tour that originated in the piazza that lasted about 90 minutes so Laura and I could wander around the shopping area at a leisurely pace. We had a wonderful time in this little town! Don’t miss it if you are ever any place nearby.

The Duomo of Orvieto

Shopping with my girl!

Ice rink, not too crowded and a perfect place to learn.

Ross found a Roman friend and got some skating tips in Italian

We left as the sun (using the term loosely as it was overcast) was thinking about setting and the temperature was dropping significantly for the night. We pulled into our hotel in Pisa a few hours later and got settled for the five day stay there. We stayed at Camp Darby, a military base about 15 minutes from the Leaning Tower. It is not at all fancy but very comfortable and we had two rooms, Jim and his mom and I had one and the kids had the other right next door, it was perfect. The whole day was perfect actually! In our opinion, Orvieto, the best possible value for one Euro in the country! There may be one possible exception, St. Peter's Basillica which is free, but that is like comparing apples and oranges. Best all around goes to Orvieto, hands down.


Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Bon Bon,
So glad to see a post from you.
so glad yall are having such a great and scenic tour. Loved that house built on the side of the mountain with the stairs going up.
How neat is that!!
Beautiful scenery for sure, and the Basilicas in Europe are amazing,
too bad the faith that should go with them isn't amazing at all.
That is why most of them are tourist spots to make money for their upkeep! Sorta sad!!
Anyway, so glad you are having such a good time. Your laura looks so much like you, and I would bet from her smilin face she has a lot of your personality and wit!
Nice the kids had the whole ice ring to theirselves so they could practice up, and nice to find a friend to give them some pointers.
We actually have or did have years back an ice rink in the Orlando area, and I tried it for the first time, didn't do too badly,
and it was fun, but you gotta have those skates lace good and tight.Well, gotta read your other post. I was just thinking I am sure you are counting the days with sadness that your trip is coming to a close. Enjoy the rest with gusto my friend,
Love and Blessings,

Caroline Craven said...

I am so loving my trip to Italy via Bonnie! I truly hope I can make one myself someday. I had no idea your family was so steeped in everything Italian. How wonderful that Gloria could visit her birth place once again. I hope it was a special day for her. Where is the picture of your amber ring? My grandmother had one that was beautiful and it landed on my sister's finger when she passed away. Enjoy the rest of your time and give my love to Laura and the rest of your family.