While the flower artists are busy at work on their creations the rest of the town is also at work, decorating their businesses, houses and the neighborhoods for the festival.
Yellow and blue
Yellow and blue are the colors of the Santa Maria of the Star quarter. You find people decorating in many different and beautiful ways.
Corsica quarter is red and yellow. The red and yellow banners come out.
On this street – the dividing line between two quarters – the plants in the planters are of two different color ways. The near planter is the red and yellow of Corsica, while the far one is the yellow and blue of Santa Maria.
Two quarters, two color ways
Then, in our neighborhood they decided to have a little evening celebration to complement what was going on elsewhere.
Federico, who does exquisite work in leather – shoes, purses, coin purses, belts, bags – joined in by offering free shoe shines. And across the street from him is a wine store. So . . .
Desserts and dessert wines
Music from a couple of other store owners in our “hood”
So it was lots of fun as we came home from dinner this night to find our neighborhood partying. We of course jumped in and shared the night with them. Just love the spontaneity and serendipity of travel.
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Just about every time we travel to Italy some sort of festival or event is going on. Doesn’t matter which city or where, it just happens. So it wasn’t unusual for us to be in Orvieto during Palombella – Pentecost. However this year was special because it is the 750th anniversary of the miracle of Bolsena, which led to the building of Orvieto’s cathedral and to the Corpus Cristi date on the Catholic calendar. As a result, they were doing it up big.
It began as we watched them prepare and install the monument in front of the cathedral to house the saints and receive the dove on its journey down a long wire from another church some 300 feet away.
The modern crane in an ancient city
In place waiting for the saints
One night returning from dinner we ran into a crew that was hanging banners over the streets. Our friend Alberto once described it this way, “We dress our city.”
Raising a banner
Nearly in place
Another going up
The next day
Then something we’ve never seen before in Orvieto – painting with flowers. Lots of Italian towns do this. Spello, for one, is known for its work. Each of Orvieto’s four quarters designed and executed an image. Then, people from Bolsena, who are very skilled in the art did one in front of the Duomo. Here are some images as the work began and wound into the night.
Santa Maria della Stella quarter
The Elm quarter
Working into the night
More to come on Palombella.
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Suor Giovanna is a Fromula One fan. So when the Lamborghinis were parading through town, I went to tell her. She was nonplussed. She supports Ferrari and was not about to go out and look at the inferior “other” cars.
Two days later Kristi and I walk into the courtyard and see Giovanna, who is 75, about to get on a chair to hang a Ferrari t-shirt on a statue of Jesus! Really? I
Giovanna and the t-shirt draped statue
couldn’t believe she would do such a thing. I got on the chair and put the t-shirt on for her. Turns out there was a Formula One race that day and she did this for good luck. She said she had been wanting to do this for years, but Franca, one of the other nuns had said you simply can’t do that. Well, Giovanna’s the boss and this time she prevailed. And guess what? Ferrari won!! As a result the statue was adorned with a Ferrari flag to help celebrate!
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They’re not exactly Lamborghini but, unbelievably, two days after the Lamborghini parade here came some old Citroens. There were about 50 of them. The drivers spent the night in Orvieto, unlike the Lamborghini crowd who just passed through, and the cars filled Piazza Popolo. They didn’t roar through the streets, but they certainly are interesting to look at. Lamborghini is Italian. Citroen is French. I’ll say no more!!
Some of the Citroens in Piazza Popolo
I found this one strangely handsome!
From the rear
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One of the things about travel is the unexpected, the surprise events, the fun of the unknown. It happens every time we venture abroad, and it one of the great joys of travel – particularly to a place you’ve been to often, and that you know well.
So it was with great surprise that on our trip to Orvieto this spring, we arrived to find ropes high across the streets from which were suspended little black and white pendants that we couldn’t quite make out. Turns out they were flags with the Lamborghini logo, which is celebrating its 50th year in 2013.
Over 200 Lamborghinis were traveling throughout Italy on a grand tour and Orvieto happened to be one of the towns they were going through. People lined the streets to watch the 200 parade by. The folks in the Lamborghinis were taking as many pictures as those on the streets. These were cars from all over the world, assembled for this historic event, and many of them were tourist to Italy.
It was great fun, lasted for several hours, providing entertainment to us all.
The context – a very modern car in a very old city!
New cars . . .
and older ones
Driving with doors open
School kids had flags to wave
Engines roared, sounds ricocheted – great fun for us all
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We are just back from our spring weeks in Orvieto. In the past, when we lived in Columbia, we were morose upon our return. Here, in Morganton, a place we love, we are content to be home. Still, there are things we will miss from Orvieto. It is an incredibly wonderful place, one that gives us much. It always seems like a good idea to recount those things that are special about this Umbrian town we love and to count our blessings to be able to experience it.
So, I will miss:
- The intimate streets of this sweet town, the absence of cars, and the pedestrian nature of it
- The quiet, calm, peaceful, serenity of our convent Bed and Breakfast
- The beautiful marble staircase of our B&B – all 43 steps of it
- The people we know and talk to regularly
- The easy, frequent, unplanned contact with others provided by a pedestrian environment
- The pagentry
- The people-centered character of everything we do – meals with Gianpierro, Cristian’s playful nature, Alberto’s philosophy, Federico’s bright countenance, Lorenzo’s grappling with a life change, Donatella’s bright, smiling, happy face, Graziella’s integrity, Giovanni’s passion
- Running into people on the streets
- Walks down Corso Cavour and up the linear park
- The lush, well tended countryside
- The exquisite evening light
- The velvet countryside at days end
- Seeing small neighboring towns like Viceno, Monte Rubiaglio, and Allerona perched on their own hills off in the distance and the always-present sight of Orvieto from them when we visit
- How beautifully Italians speak the English language and how beautiful it is to hear Italian spoken
- The simple elegance of so much of what Italians do
- The cozy intimacy of Italian restaurants with their tables close together
- All the incredible, fabulous food
- The cheese – the oh so amazing pecorinos, parmigianos, and buffalo mozarellas
Luckily, we return in four months to be able to experience it and enjoy it all again. I am a very lucky person.
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The deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie is quoted by Mark Nepo in Seven Thousand Ways to Listen as saying that she feels the vibrations since she can’t hear, saying they are the same thing. She points out that in Italian the word sentire means to hear and to feel. In fact it also means to smell. So it encompasses many of the senses, and in my understanding of the word does really mean all the senses.
This is a characteristic of Italy I’ve often tried to capture in words and have always been inadequate in doing so. How perfectly Italian to have one word that expresses it all, though we have no equivalent word in English. I have only slowly come to understand sentire. Mostly it has been Suor Giovanna at our convent B&B, who has used this word and has slowly woken me to the multiple meanings of the word, to the all encompassing nature of the word.
Orvieto Sunset – Afterglow
To truly experience the world we engage all the senses at once, what Nepo calls the one living sense. I think this is what happens to us and to those who travel with us to Italy. You can’t help but have all your senses engaged. It is partly an outgrowth of going slow, staying in one place for a week so you slow down, absorb the rhythms, let each and every sense become aroused. And partly this is Italy and Italians and how they live.
Nepo goes on to say, “Joy is a barometer that lets us now that everything is well tuned.” I love that. I think most of us in Italy do experience joy. I’d say that those who travel with us find joy. But I never moved beyond that to say everything is well tuned. Well, it is, and I think it is because we are hearing fully with all our senses.
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