La Città delle Caverne

The City of Caves

Our next weekend excursion led us on a day trip to Orvieto. Orvieto seems to be the first excursion from Rome for a lot of people. It’s about an hour outside of Rome, and it’s directly on the main highway – it lends itself nicely to a high probability of success. The pace of the day was slow and relaxing.

Orvieto is a medieval walled town with a huge cathedral in the main square. (Also listed in the 1000 things to see before you die book. :)

Il Duomo (Cathedral) in Orvietto

Il Duomo (Cathedral) in Orvieto

Being silly near the wall at the edge of town (and edge of the cliff)

Being silly near the wall at the edge of town (and edge of the cliff)

After wandering around downtown for a while, we went to see St Patrick’s Well.  From our friends’ blog:

“There are 2 spiral staircases, lit by 72 windows that ascend and descend without ever touching.  And the acoustics are crazy!  Andy and Ryan could be 3 spirals away (if that makes any sense) and could hear what Kate and I whispered.”

A view looking up in the well

A view looking up in the well

So, it’s 10pm now, and I’m supposed to leave for Romania in the morning – our friend Kate did a great job writing up this last part – so I’m going to use her words. Hopefully that’s ok with her. ;-)

“The last and probably my favorite part was underground Orvieto.  So apparently there are over 15oo caves that run under the city and connect with the houses above.  The Etruscans (which pre-dated even the ancient Romans…) first dug caves in search of water.  Later the city was razed by the Romans.  In the middle ages its population again grew because of its easily defensible position.  The caves were again used, but this time for different purposes.  People would live above ground and work below to avoid taxes.  They also raised pigeons in these caves which was a main source of protein for the people.”

Most of the caves are directly attached to private homes – with entrances from their kitchens. Apparently the pigeon holes are just right for storing wine.

Steps leading from the kitchen into the pidgeon coop/cave

Steps leading from the kitchen into the pidgeon coop/cave

Our last stop of the day was an amazing dinner in a cave! The restaurant was really quite amazing – both in atmosphere and food. It was a pretty great day overall.

IMG_1293

Entrance to the cave restaurant

A romantic dinner setting - under the city

A romantic dinner setting - under the city

Quotes of the trip:

Both from the guy sitting in the family run hand made pottery store that we stopped in. He kindly let Reid (Andy & Kate’s son) use the bathroom so the adults could browse the store longer. (Italians love kids.)

“I Bambini primo di tutto” – Children before everything else.

We also had an interesting conversation about Italy & Italians. He was telling us how much cleaner the other European cities are than Rome. He said that Italians just don’t care about keeping anything clean. Below is his comment on Rome:

“Rome sarebbe bellissimo – peccato i Romani.” – Rome would be beautiful – too bad about the Romans.

More Pictures

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1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Travel

One response to “La Città delle Caverne

  1. Elaine

    Now I REALLY want to go to Orvieto! It’s exciting to have these opportunities.

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