Written by airynfaerie on 17 Nov, 2009
On a weekend in spring during our year living in Florence we headed out for a couple days in the countryside with friends, a dog, and lots & lots of green scenery...We took a train south to the town of Chiusi, where our friends picked…Read More
On a weekend in spring during our year living in Florence we headed out for a couple days in the countryside with friends, a dog, and lots & lots of green scenery...We took a train south to the town of Chiusi, where our friends picked us up and drove just over the Tuscan border into Umbria and to their lovely home that they've been restoring for the past year and a half.This is now the location of the new vacation retreat "Artist in Italy", where they host small groups of artists with personalized courses. The owner in an art professor and gifted artist himself. They describe the retreat as: "Set in the inspiring Tuscan and Umbrian countryside, Artist in Italy is offering painting holidays for people who love art, Italy, good food and wine. The week-long painting and drawing courses have been carefully designed for both beginners and intermediate artists who would like to improve their skills and techniques."That afternoon we enjoyed a spread of fresh, mixed bruschetta and pecorino at a wooden table outside under the shade of a tree. Then we started a walk around the area, which led us to some amazing views and stories. We kept repeating how green everything was...fields winter wheat swaying in the wind, looming cypress trees dotting the roads, silvery olive trees with the small beginnings of blooms, and the occasional patch of red poppies. I think this was one of the flowers I most looked forward to seeing in Italy. They always make me smile, and they have the stereotypical postcard look to them. They also are unique in that you must enjoy them where they grow, because when they are picked, they look and become flimsy so there is barely enough time to even make it from the field to a vase. We traipsed through the woods, past a pet graveyard, around dirt roads bordered by colorful fields, on small hills with views over the countryside, and even past a few old artillery shells from WWII that were still lodged in the ground here. We were told of many wartime stories that happened in this area. I always have a hard time picturing how it must have been during that time; and even though it feels like another world, many WWII soldiers are still alive today.After a bit more walking, slightly pink neck from the sun, and more photos, we settled in for another late evening full of wonderful food and lots of conversation. We are so thankful to our friends for their hospitality - it was an outstanding way to spend the weekend.• http://www.artistinitaly.com/• Named "Siliano Alto", and located in the "Le Coste" neighborhood near Chuisi• Courses year round• 600-800£ for tuition, room & boardClose
Written by moatway on 06 May, 2004
Apart from the Basilica of San Francesco, Assisi is the home of numerous churches including two former cathedral churches.
The original cathedral was San Rufino in the Piazza San Rufino. It is dedicated to St. Rufinus who originally brought Christianity to Assisi. The nave isn’t…Read More
Apart from the Basilica of San Francesco, Assisi is the home of numerous churches including two former cathedral churches.
The original cathedral was San Rufino in the Piazza San Rufino. It is dedicated to St. Rufinus who originally brought Christianity to Assisi. The nave isn’t wearing its age very well as the walls have lost their frescos. When we visited, the apse was closed for repairs but the marble altar stood in front of the tented area and is very large as are the side altars under each of which there is a sarcophagus. A lot of people pass on the crypt and the displays below the church, deterred by the 3 Euro fee. Unfortunately, many of them also pass by the magnificent Capella del Sacramento which runs perpendicular to the church and is closed off by doors that you are actually expected to push open. That chapel was one of the high points of our visit to Assisi. It is brilliant with huge artworks on the walls, a completely decorated ceiling and an excess of gold leaf and marble. Do look up and see the cherubs and the seraphim statues on the ceiling. . . just wonderful, I can’t recommend it more.
The other former cathedral church is St. Maria Maggiore, but it is a shadow of what it must have been. Again, most of the frescoes are gone. The apse is stone in classical architecture. . . somewhat Byzantine. A three nave church, it is currently under renovation, but I can’t recommend it.
Santa Chiara (Saint Claire) Church is in the Piazza Santa Chiara. The visitor enters the 13th century Italian Gothic church through the Chapel of the Crucifix of San Damiano. . . small, wooden columns to the rear and a frescoed chancel. The main body of the church is a single nave and like San Francesco, features four arches on each side before the transept. It is, however, very plain except for the frescoes in the transept. The large marble altar is surrounded by Corinthian columns and an ironwork fence. . . in the ambulatory is a small organ case.
The one side chapel of Santa Chiara is of the Blessed Sacrament. So far, the church is pleasant, very similar to San Francesco, but without the ornamentation. It is the crypt that stands out here. In one section, you see a display of the relics of St. Claire and the personal possessions of Saint Francis, but the crypt proper is magnificent. It is a wonderful display of marble and contains an amazing marble chapel and antechamber. I can’t recommend the it highly enough.
A couple of small churches that you might drop into are the old Roman temple of Minerva, now an extremely beautiful small church dedicated to Santa Maria in the Piazza del Commune. The other is the Chiesa Nuova just off the piazza. It isn’t very nuova – it was built in 1615 on the site of what is now believed to be the home of St. Francis’ family. It is an interesting symmetrical church. . . the dome is in the center and the transepts, chancel and nave all appear to be the same length. Finally, peek into the Oratory of San Francesco Piccolino. This diminutive 13th century room with its Gothic ceiling is a humble a testament to faith and perhaps as powerful as the others are in their grandeur. This list is not complete. . . enjoy.
Gubbio is just north of Assisi and may be the antithesis of the latter. . . not as heavily developed, but to be fair, without the same power to attract. It is a steep town, and with that in mind, if you leave the Piazza…Read More
Gubbio is just north of Assisi and may be the antithesis of the latter. . . not as heavily developed, but to be fair, without the same power to attract. It is a steep town, and with that in mind, if you leave the Piazza 40 Martiri (where there is a car park and the Chiesa di San Francisco) and go up to the Via della Repubblica, you will find the first of two elevators that allow you to move up to the top of the town in relative comfort. That is not to say that you will face no climbing, but you will face less climbing.
Halfway up the hill, you will find the Piazza Grande on one side of which sits the Palazzo Consoli. Thanks to the broad square in front of it, this crenellated, white building from the 14th century has real presence. A stairway leads from the piazza to a big, barrel-vaulted assembly room. . . the seat of government. (You will enter through a more humble door on the ground floor and pay five Euros.)
Apart from being the former seat of local government, the building now houses a fine collection of artifacts and artworks in the civic museum. In the collection of ceramics and coins are the seven bronze Eugubine Tablets, the Rosetta Stone of Umbria. The collection also contains a fine collection of medieval furniture and religious art and crosses time into the 17th century. Having made your way up to the last gallery (and it’s been a great journey), you can pass into an exterior porch offering you even better views than the piazza below.
The second elevator is just down the street from the palazzo and it will take you up to the Museo Diocesano and the Duomo. The duomo is a magnificent gray-stone gothic church with a timber-framed roof. . . 10 stone arches of the single nave advance to the chancel. Behind the altar, there is a wooden choir and throughout the chancel there are beautifully painted walls setting off an extremely ornate organ case. Light streams in through Gothic stained-glass above the altar and less so from a few plain windows high on one side of the nave.
The high point of the duomo is the small Capelle di S.S. Sacramento. It is domed with windows in a cupola allowing light to flood the ornately decorated space. It stands in sharp contrast to the relative austerity of the rest of the church. Having seen the duomo, you can walk directly into the Palazzo Ducale.
At the time, the Palazzo Ducale, a very attractive building, was being renovated and most of the rooms were empty except for a temporary exhibit upstairs. Leaving the palazzo and going to the right, there is a small garden that offers beautiful views over the city. If you make your way down the hill, again staying to the right after leaving the palazzo, you will come in contact with a street coming across from the left. This is part of the Citta Vecchia, a street over which many buildings have expanded. . . really quite attractive. From this street, you can take any one of the staircases down and back to the Piazza Grande.
The smart way to arrive in Orvieto would be by train or bus – the train station is right at the foot of the funicular to the town. If you’re coming in by car, search out the "Parking funicular" sign – the free parking is…Read More
The smart way to arrive in Orvieto would be by train or bus – the train station is right at the foot of the funicular to the town. If you’re coming in by car, search out the "Parking funicular" sign – the free parking is in an immense lot behind the train station. In summer, there is tourist information and ticketing right at the parking lot. If you miss the lot and go up the hill (as I did initially), there is enclosed, pay-parking at the Campo della Fiera… I did find that most of the parking in the upper garage was reserved.
In Orvieto, you can purchase a billieta unico – a ticket that for one price, will cover most of your attractions and the funicular. In winter however, proceed to the funicular (tourist information is in the piazza across from the duomo). You can purchase your return funicular ticket in the lower station.
As you exit the funicular station at the top you should realize: (1) Your funicular ticket is good for the bus to the Duomo and the center of town for one hour after purchase. (2) St. Patrick’s Well is to your immediate right. If you are determined to descend the 240 steps to the bottom and come back up, you might as well do it while you are fresh. (3) If you are going to walk to the duomo, go up the street immediately in front of you – the Corso Cavour – it has some shops in it and is mildly entertaining. The road that hugs the cliff to the left has no views and is just plain dangerous. (Ask me how I know these things.)
In the Piazza del Duomo there is a tourist information office. You can arrange your guided tours to the Orvieto Underground or the Collection of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. The sites that you should see (in my humble opinion) that are not museums are the Orvieto Underground and the Torre del Moro. If you want museums, you will probably start at the Palazzo Faina, directly across from the Duomo and the three museums in the Papal Palace. (Sorry, I was suffering from museum over-exposure).
The Torre del Moro is just down Via Duomo from the piazza. You’re going to walk there (it is in the tourist area), so you may as well pay the 2.80 Euros for the climb to the top (and it’s a serious climb… don’t be fooled by the elevator, it only travels a couple of floors). If you have already done St. Patrick’s well, you may find this a little difficult. The view from the tower is absolutely extraordinary and reaffirms that Orvieto is actually a small town occupying a small plateau.
While you’re walking the town, drop into some of the local churches. The Chiesa di San Francesco, which you will find by walking down the street directly across from the front doors of the duomo, is excellent and is undergoing restoration. Louis IX of France was cononized here. Chiesa di San Lorenzo de’ Arari is just downright spooky with its dark, low ceiling, heavy columns and its Etruscan altar. There are more, many of them quite interesting. Regardless. . . you will find this a compact town, extremely entertaining and your visit will eat up most of the day.
Written by claireNY on 19 Jan, 2001
Orvieto is a spectacular hill town in Umbria. Don’t skip Orvieto whatever you do. The Duomo of Orvieto is, for me, one of the most beautiful spaces in central Italy. It is the perfect combination of Italian elegance and country simplicity.…Read More
Orvieto is a spectacular hill town in Umbria. Don’t skip Orvieto whatever you do. The Duomo of Orvieto is, for me, one of the most beautiful spaces in central Italy. It is the perfect combination of Italian elegance and country simplicity. I love to visit it after a long lunch on a sunny spring day. Orvieto is famous for its wines, especially whites, and good restaurants are not hard to find in this tiny city.
Famous for its pottery, Orvieto will never disappoint you. The quality of this beautiful earthenware is good almost everywhere in town and you will see many contemporary styles as well as the traditional patterns.
As with all the hill towns of this region, don’t try to drive into town. Look for signs for the railway station or the "Funiculare" (cable car) and park in the free lot. Take the cable car up into the town and the waiting buses will take you to the main piazza. You will be deposited directly in front of the glorious façade of the Duomo. From this point set off on foot and plan to explore the whole town on foot. You can return to this spot and catch a return bus at any time during the day or stroll back to the Funiculare station through the town.
Just next to the station is a lovely park built on the old Etruscan foundations and with the most spectacular views of Umbria. While in Orvieto (if you are not allergic to dust) you can sign up for a tour of the underground caves that were part of the city life for centuries. Go to the tourist shop in the main piazza across from the Duomo and ask at the desk to sign up for a tour. They will assign you a time and a place to meet your English speaking guide.
As for gelato-try the shop in the piazza to the left of the Duomo as you face it. YUM!
Written by Clove17402 on 19 Apr, 2007
A private house, built in the 1500s, restored and pretty modern. Three bedrooms and two baths, living room, dining room, and eat-in kitchen. There were olive groves on one side and a vinyard on the other with flowers and lavender all over.…Read More
A private house, built in the 1500s, restored and pretty modern. Three bedrooms and two baths, living room, dining room, and eat-in kitchen. There were olive groves on one side and a vinyard on the other with flowers and lavender all over.Close