For the past few days, we’ve been playing tour guide. Our new friends, Tessa and Cassie, spent the past three weeks touring Italy, their last stop being Rome. We met up with them on Saturday and showed off Colle Oppio park, took them to one of our favorite pizza spots, had drinks down on Tiber Island and gave them the grand tour of our mansion. It was nice to see familiar faces and laugh with people who get our humor and speak our language!
We joined them today for a day-trip to Orvieto, a small hill town in Umbria, the region quickly rising to the status of “new Tuscany.” Rightly so, as the city is small enough to lazily stroll, the residents are inviting and helpful, and there’s just enough history and scenery to make the place interesting and stunning.
Orvieto dates back to the 9th century BC, and is regarded as the city with the best Etruscan ruins, complete with a gnarly necropolis (Crocifisso del Tufo) at the base of the city (many of the remains are housed at the Louvre). When Rome was rising to power, the best-dressed and intelligent Etruscan settlement posed a threat to Rome’s success. So, in 509 BC, in typical poor Roman fashion, the city was sacked and the people massacred.
While we were there, we toured some Etruscan caves and spiraled down the corkscrew staircase of the St. Patrick’s well. Ironically, when Rome was being sacked in 1527, the pope took refuge in Orvieto. But being a hill town, it had no water source. So he commissioned a well to be built in fear of the coming siege. The siege never came, but the well is spectacular for something built in the 1500s.