Magical Orvieto

November 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

On our last day with Neil, we decided to go to Orvieto, to get there we drove west and after half an hour from out of the mist “Todi” loomed crowning its hill, swifts scythed through the air reminding me of Brett Whitely’s wonderful painting “Tuscany”. Continuing on following the snaking Tevere river through the increasingly mountainous and wild country, Neil related how in times gone past the area was infested with Brigands who’d swoop down upon merchants and travellers plying the river in boats, before disappearing with their stolen loot back into the untamed valleys and ravines that still distinguish this landscape today.

“Chiaroscuro” made famous by Caravaggio means light and dark.. the term signifies something far more complex than the way this Artist used light and shade, the term evokes the spiritual, ethical, political aesthetic complexity of the Italian way. Italy has given  to the world of some of the most glorious expressions of being human, it has also been a place where horrors have occurred, where darkness has blotted out the light. And there are parts of Italy that are strangely unnerving for me, perhaps something of the past reverberates through time, driving through this area was that for me and then you get to…..

Orvieto is built on top of a huge rocky outcrop, there is evidence of human settlement going back to the bronze age. This town was an Etruscan city and one of the last to fall to the advancing Romans from the south. Today there is little evidence of the Etruscans on the hill top but below you can view their Necropolis below the festooning above.

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Entrance to an Etruscan Tomb. The Etruscans spoke a unique language and some words entered our language via the Romans. The Etruscan language has been difficult to analyze, due to its being an isolate. Bonfante, a leading scholar in the field, says “… it resembles no other language in Europe or elsewhere ….Although many inscriptions remain the language as yet has not been deciphered.

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View Across the “Necropolis” on the road up to Orvieto

The first time I visited Orvieto I knew nothing about the city, I turned the corner and came into the piazza and was dumbstruck by the beauty of the facade, the design is vigorous alive, inside Pope Innocent III proclaimed the Fourth Crusade in 1201. Nothing prepares you for the Luca Signorelli frescoes, they are outstanding!

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One of Orvieto’s great traditions beautiful ceramics

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The Romans had to starve the Etruscans into submission it took a year before Orvieto was taken, it was recorded that the inhabitants were treated brutally.

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