Today was definitely a long day and yet we spent it all in Orvieto. We began the day early, and with a beautiful vista. Orvieto, as Teddy has probably told you, is a walled city, and we walked on one of its walls overlooking the Umbrian countryside. There Professor Ulrich gave us the background of the incredible city. It was the site of Volsinii, one of the greatest Etruscan cities back before Rome conquered peninsular Italy. If that is the case, then why is it called Orvieto? Well, the Romans, when they defeated the Volsinii, moved all their inhabitants to a different location and so Volsinii became Urbs Vetus (The Old City) which then became Italianized into Orvieto.
Post-discussion, we headed on down to the Belvedere Temple, so named for the view it had overlooking the southeast countryside. There, Cara gave a good explanation of the temple and how it agreed for the most part with the classic Etruscan temple plan, laid out by Vetruvius in his ten books on Roman architecture.
Shortly after, we headed down the hill to the Orvieto necropolis, where we saw a true necropolis. There were no open fields where we were told people were buried, but tombs. In fact, Yuhang also gave a presentation on town planning and the remarkable similarities between the layout of towns and the layout of the tombs. While we were exploring the necropolis, both Teddy and I found pottery sherds. Teddy’s sherd, interestingly, had some decoration on it that later helped us date the finds to the 8th century BC.
After all of this, we took a lunch break and then reconvened to go to the museums in Orvieto. There we saw lots of interesting artifacts. The most interesting artifacts were three Greek pots made by Exekias, which were incredible to see, and a sarcophagus that showed scenes from the Iliad and the Odyssey. We kept attempting to identify one particular scene, which, after asking, I discovered was Odysseus threatening Circe to return his men who had been turned to animals to their human form.
Finally, at the end of our classes, we sat outside in the piazza and learned about the Orvieto duomo. It was all kicked off by the miracle of Bolsena during which the doubting priest broke the bread and the host bled. The altar-cloth with blood stains and the terrible state of the old church in Orvieto served as an impetus to build a new cathedral.
Then came the food. Carlo, our awesome bus driver, having been unsatisfied with the food the day before had searched for good food the entire day. He later came to me and told me exactly where to eat. I searched for people who wanted in on the great meal, and it seems the girls wanted their own girls’ night. All I know is that when we boys and Carlo ate at “La locanda del lupo”, we ate so well. I was so full after that meal that I couldn’t do anything else all day.
Photos ( alla Bridget-Kate):