Orvieto’s museums are small and are clustered around the Duomo. Friday afternoon was the perfect time to wander through all four. We quickly learned that weekdays are relatively quiet in Orvieto, but that changes on Saturday. Seems that even hilltop towns also have their weekend warriors.
The C. Faina museum is a three story palace facing the Duomo. In addition to the Etruscan vases and a stone coffin, it has a room chock full of ancient coins, with the modern convenience of trays that move when you press a button. If my cute boy had been by my side, I know he absolutely would have spent a fair amount of time in this room.
I have been more than slightly spoiled by NYC museums, so have already seen similar artifacts. What fascinated ME was the actual building itself. I wish I were more skilled at holding the camera correctly so that I could have better captured this ceiling. (I know Photoshop can work wonders but, as we say here in Italy “Io sono pigro”. Or that’s I would say if I knew how to speak Italian). But enough about my shortcomings, back to the museum tour.
Next stop, the Palazzi Papali which has been recycled into an archaeological museum. The nuns never mentioned that the popes owned quite a bit of real estate outside of the Vatican. Or if the dear sisters did, it was on one of the many days that I wasn’t listening, so finding Papal Palaces scattered throughout Europe has been a revelation to me.
This museum contained all the usual jewelry and vases, plus everything you needed to conduct your standard rape, pillage and plunder. But once again, I was completely entranced by the building. While I sat in a corner of the room, in the chair reserved for the guard who was out on the patio flirting with a sweet young thing, I was thinking deep thoughts. Let me share a couple of them:
“Man, I’m sure glad I was born in the 20th century”!
“Some of my friends have better houses than your standard 15th century Pope.”
THe Duomo Museum only had frescoes, either copies or originals, I guess they had to be one or the other since most museums don’t intentionally display fakes, but I really didn’t care one way or the other. 10 minutes later I was out the door.
The Emilio Greco Museum was my very favorite. His ability to make a few ink marks on paper into something beautiful kept me mesmerized for quite some time.
The museum was only one room. The beautiful sculptures we plopped amid a whole lot of stuff: a piano, chairs, a spiral staircase. Still, the drawings and sculptures made you forget the cluttered space around them.
Emilio also designed the Duomo’s huge green doors. Let me tell you, those doors have a whole lot of entwined bodies on them.
And since we are now back at the Duomo, here’s the story about how a little hilltop town got such a grand cathedral.
Back in the late 1400’s, one of the priests couldn’t quite wrap his head around the host literally being the body of Christ, until one day, while saying Mass, the host started to bleed. Fortunately, they didn’t have paper towels back then, so he quickly grabbed a linen cloth to tidy up. As mentioned earlier, popes were frequent visitors, and the Vicar of Rome just happened to be in town that weekend. He quickly decided that the cloth was “church worthy” and that a new cathedral would be ideal as a display case. And so the bloody cloth remains, up to this very day, in the little side chapel on the left of the main altar. No photos are allowed, but if the truth be told, I really wasn’t able to see the cloth anyway. I just had faith that it was there.
On to the next topic: Dinners in Orvieto are a magnificent thing, and the one we had at Restaurante Ancora was particularly grand. Diane and I discovered it while stumbling around town, looking for a bathroom. It looked interesting and Trip Advisor enlightened us further as to the merits of this particular establishment. We wisely allowed Carlo, the owner, to choose for us and it was fabulous. Delicious pizza bread, an amazing eggplant appetizer, a lasagna, a ravioli, veal with a delicious sauce, vegetables and dessert, plus wine–all for less than 35 Euros per person. Wow. What a way to end the evening.