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  • Day54

    Orvieto

    March 12, 2018 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    I changed my home base yesterday and I am now in Orvieto. The good news is the funicular that takes you to the historic center is located just outside the train station so that makes things much easier. My hotel was also near the train. I got my things settled and headed into the old town.

    Orvieto is a town that is formed on top of a layer of tufa, which is a softer, porous type of volcanic stone. It was established by the Etruscans and at one time they lived underground here. There is a tour of the ancient underground, so I went there first as it was just about to begin when I arrived. The tour showed you where they pressed olive oil, the well and where they kept pigeons. Each house had a pigeon keep. There were also places where you could see stairs leading up to where the house was above the pigeon keep but no house excavations were shown, so I guess there aren't any. I hope to try pigeon whi.e I am here as there are supposedly a couple of places that cook it.

    After the underground tour, I went and had lunch at a local trattoria. I had some cured venison that was really good and almost literallly melted in your mouth and a very good roulade of rabbit with a side of spinach.

    Speaking of food, European breakfasts continue to be the weak point- cold cuts and pastries with no eggs or anything hot making an appearance. At least their coffee choices are plentiful. Italian breakfast cakes tend to routinely be dry and bland. Evidently just a variant taste from our preferences. That said, they do go to a fair amount of trouble to make them appealing looking.

    After lunch I headed to Orvieto's Duomo. Talk about a mega church! It is pretty massive. I believe it took about 300 years to complete. The outside has very ornate decoration, both sculpture and paintings. The inside also has some beautiful frescoes by Luca Signorelli that depict mainly end-times themes. He is one of the artists by whom Michelangelo was inspired. The artwork throughout the church was so abundant and overwhelming that I may return for a second visit if time allows.

    Today I got up and took a touring break to do some laundry. I hate having to take the time to do it but with a trip this long, it is unavoidable. The laundromat here is amall: 4 washing machines and 2 dryers and you have to wait to put your laundry in between loads that they are doing for their laundry service. It's also a little pricey compared to our laundromats- about $10 per load to wash and another $4 to dry. At least it includes the soap. The lady that runs the place was nice and showed me how to program and use the machines which was great because I don't know that I would have figured it out myself. The soap is contained within the machine somehow and you go over to one wall to insert your money and select your machine and then the machine itself to select temperature and then back to the wall to select start and then back to the machine to press a button and make it start. Confusing.

    After my laundry was done and I walked it back to my hotel, I went back up to the old town and walked around a bit; bought a new umbrella and had pigeon for dinner. I figured I'd see what the Etruscan fare was like while I had a chance. Answer is it was OK but not much meat and somewhat gamey tasting. It's a dark meat. Mine was covered with this olive puree, which while it didn't make for an aesthetically pleasing dish, it did help the flavor and lessened the gamey taste. So I can scratch pigeon off my list. No need to have it again. I also had a glass of their local wine and I have to say that Orvieto wine is pretty decent. Actually all the wine in Italy has been decent. Some is better than others but none of it has given me any allergy problems, a sign for me that it's decent.
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