Sunday, June 21, 2009


The last of the Italian hill towns Laura and I visited during our vacation was Orvieto.

Like many other towns in Italy, Orvieto sports a fairly massive church, the Duomo di Orvieto. It was built in the 14th century specifically to house the Corporal of Bolsena, which without getting into all of the bizarre specifics, let's just call a miraculously bloody altar cloth. The memorable thing about the interior was a chapel containing some rather imaginative, intricate, and occasional disturbing depictions of the end times.

Orvieto's most unique feature is an extensive system of underground caves. In fact, pretty much everyone who lives in Orvieto owns their very own cave, or as they prefer to call it, wine cellar. The city is in possession of some of the outlying passages, which have been used for things like making olive oil, taking shelter from bombs, and - of course - raising pigeons for food. Below you see a wall from one of these underground caves filled with pigeon cubbies. It turns out that pigeons are particularly easy to farm because they fly away and feed themselves, only to return to their cubbies for nesting, and on one particular bad day to be a pigeon, harvesting. We were told they still raise pigeons for food in the area, just no longer in the caves.

Another interesting site in Orvieto is an Etruscan necropolis. The tombs were layed out in a grid as you can see below. Orvieto has been settled since Etruscan times and naturally its museums are packed with Etruscan stuff they've dug up.

There's nothing like peering inside of tombs to make a guy hungry. Luckily, spring in Italy means there's always something to eat hanging out of the trees. Below, you see me picking some cherries out of the necropolis cherry tree.

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