Friday, July 10, 2009
Remember that I told you about my class in Orvieto Italy next year? Well I have some new photos to whet your appetite and I also want to tell you a little bit about the town.
Orvieto has a history that is seriously old. We are talking back to before the Phoenicians founded Carthage, to before the first Olympic games in Greece, to before Homer wrote The Iliad and The Odyssey, to way before the birth of Confucius. The city goes back to the Etruscans, a somewhat mysterious people who inhabited what is now Tuscany and Umbria.
The system of caves which riddle the rock upon which Orvieto sits were created by the Etruscans to store food, gather and collect water, and to make and store wine. These caves have been used and built upon by subsequent generations. The Etruscans lived at one end of the top of the rock and farmed the other end. A trip to the caves is included in the activities during our week.
The “rock?” Orvieto is a plug of flat land sitting above the valley 700 feet below. It was created by a volcanic explosion filling the valley with ash and two rivers slowly eroding the area around Orvieto away. Because of its geography, it has always been an easily defended place. Over the centuries the “rock” has been a place of refuge.
Much of what can be seen above ground in the city has its roots in the medieval period. The street layout and form are from medieval times. The narrow streets and piazzas date to this period. This lends the city an intimate, cozy atmosphere that makes it a delight to wander.
Buildings have been added to the medieval core, but there are relatively few twentieth century structures. Most buildings are made of “tufa” rock – the volcanic stone excavated from the caves. It is a beautiful color, giving the city a warm glow in the evening sun.
Because it sits above the valley there are wonderful views out over the farmland to the surrounding mountains. The architectural character and the ancient history tell you you are in a special place.
If you would like more information about my class in Orvieto just click here.