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Orvieto in Poetry

Two posts ago I mentioned that Pam Goode had written a beautiful poem about the Orvieto experience. That I would post it here when she was done cleaning it up to her satisfaction. What I didn’t know was that she would put it together with her beautiful photographs. I have copied it below or you can see it on her blog.

Pam has captured so many of the elements of a trip to Orvieto with us which make it a powerful, soothing, inspired, spiritual experience. Her words bring to mind the generous, soulful, impassioned people with whom we are priveleged to work. In short, it brought me to tears a second time.Thank you Pam!

Creating a Life: Inspiration from Orvieto

by Pamela Goode

There are those who ask me why I love to travel. In a few words: the exploration, the reversion to a simple and spare life, the crisp solitude of being alone in a new culture and unfamiliar language. Quite simply, stripped of my accustomed ways of being, I open my eyes and see. I remember who I am (and who I am not) and redefine the ways I want to experience my finite number of years. Travel sets me free to choose anew and gives me focus.

Below are a few things I’ve learned about myself during a cultural immersion week in Orvieto, Italy, and a handful of images to remind me when I’m tempted to give in to big city ways and forget.

I Want to Live a Life

I want to live a life on the edge — a life between consciousness and culture, between solitude and community, with easy access to the gifts of both.

Adventures in Italy

I want to live a life where city walls both shield and embrace, but also beckon me past my accustomed boundaries.

I want to live a life engulfed in scents and tastes and textures, with visual surprise around every corner, be it a new village or a just-unfurling jasmine bud.

I want to live a life where the strong and stalwart and majestic serve as constants for the fragile, a land where the porosity and lightness of stone do nothing to diminish its fortitude.

I want to live a life where both the dead and the living are honored, and joyously — a life where Etruscan tombs from 400 BC sit beneath the waving of wild cherries, and a waiter from lunch three days ago will wave you down in the lane for a smile.

A life where it’s okay to say hello to anyone you pass, to acknowledge life wherever it exists, including your own.

I want to live a life on many levels, from the surety and abundant offerings of ground and field to the communal path, the surprise and joy of rooftop gardens, the soaring art on soaring cathedrals to cotton ball skies and Jupiter shining above the lane after dinner in Charlie’s gardens.

I want to live a life where children in gingham smocks gather magnolia leaf bouquets and squeal with delight, where song is a part of ever day’s curriculum, where physical safety is a given.

I want to live a life as many-layered as this cypress, this town, these rooftops.

I want to live a life with as much community as these vibrant streets and as much peace as these convent gardens.

I want to live a life as broad as this vista, completely unbounded by my psyche and conventions, my habits and my fears. I want a life with such clarity and vision that all of my options are recognizable.

I want to live a life where unexpected joy exists stunningly, and sometimes consists only of a gathering of simple greenery. Where the breezes dance, where the air is cool and clear and food holds the tastes of sunshine, rain, and origin.

People ask me why I travel. I travel to pull myself out of daily habits and rituals that keep me from growth. I travel to empty and refill my soul, to recapture moments that makes my heart beat faster.

So Go. See. Assimilate. Love It Up and let it make you better. And do whatever it takes to sear those images and awakenings onto your heart for the days ahead. Take photos. If there’s one thing I’ve learned taking 57 million photos of life, it’s this: turn around. From every position, there are at least two views, and they will constantly surprise you.

What’s Below?

One of the alluring aspects of Italy is that there are so many layers. You peel away what you see and there is another layer, and another. This is evident on the street as you observe an arch within and arch within and arch speaking of years of change and transition. It’s beautiful.

Because we had a mosaic group in May we wanted them to see and be inspired by the mosaic floor of a Byzantine church underneath the “contemporary”church of St. Andrea. Here you see the layers. Byzantine underneath St Andrea and on top of Roman on top of Etruscan.

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Here is an Etruscan furnace underneath the floor of the Byzantine floor underneath the floor of St. Andrea. When the Romans defeated the Etruscans about 200 B.C. they banished them and shut the city down for nearly 700 years. Slowly, dirt piled up on top of the Etruscan ruins until the rock was finally reoccupied in the 4-500 A.D. period.

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The rough stone at the bottom is the base for the smooth stone on top – an Etruscan street. Above that is debris and then the base for the Byzantine church floor with the mosaics on the floor. The Etruscan streets ran northwest to southeast unlike the Christian orientation of due north-south/east-west.

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Here you see the mosaic floor, the “modern” foundation of  St. Andrea with the Byzantine column coming out of the foundation that had supported the Byzantine church ceiling above and still helping support the floor above.

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Pavers leading to an Etruscan well, once part of the street but then covered by the church 700 years later

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The rough block at the bottom is Etruscan. The smooth block, Byzantine. The concrete from St Andrea. The Etruscan foundation still at work 2500 years later.

Layers!!

Mosaics and Poetry

Orvieto is a city with incredible mosaics. The cathedral is particularly stunning and visible to all. But there are others, less visible, like the mosaics under St. Andrea church dating to the Byzantine period, and sitting on top of Roman and Etruscan ruins which are clearly visible. So we were excited to have Pam Goode back a second time to lead a mosaic workshop. She called it Postcards Home because she had her students do a postcard size piece.

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Mosaics are slow. That is one reason it appeals to Pam. And I love the notion in our fast paced world – an art form that requires you to think and be patient and go slow. And so the students started their piece but will finish them at home.

We learned a lot from Pam. She doesn’t like to use grout. Her work is meticulous, the pieces fitting incredibly tightly together – look in the image above. She is also a poet. At our closing she read a stunning piece she composed during the week about why she loves Orvieto and travel and what she will miss. I was in tears because it so beautifully captures what this wonderful town and the gorgeous people we know here do for us and give us. She is working on the poem to get it just right. But when it is done she will send it to us and I’ll post it here. I think it perfectly describes the incredible experience people get on our trips.

Pam is a beautiful soul and you can read a wonderful interview with her here: http://www.lunamosaics.com/pamela-goode.html Visit her website here.

So, pics of the group and it’s work.

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Thank you Pam, Susan, Sharon and Mary. What a wonderful week you gave us!

Corteo Due

The second part of the Corteo Storico that we saw took place in Piazza Popolo. I am again amazed and impressed by the costumes, by the numbers who participate in this event, by the vibrance, intensity and beauty of the colors. A magical experience.

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It was disappointing for all that the Corteo was called due to rain. Look at all the people on the street after! But we still saw a great deal, in this out third one. So beautifully impressive. A work of love for so many including our friend Alberto. Grazie tante!!

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It is just so incredible, so stunning, so surprising despite its frequency this amazing Italian generosity, embracing character, genuine friendliness. My god we are humbled. We have been here two weeks and in that time we have been comped something – wine, dessert, coffee – at least a dozen times. It’s not that we aren’t generous in the United States, but the level of it here on a very personal level is – well, humbling.

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The prosecco was given to us as we sat down

You have to earn it, no question. And it springs from a genuineness on our part, but their response knocks your socks off. We don’t expect it and we don’t do it because we expect or hope for a certain response. That is why we are so humbled.

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Filet, roasted potatoes, chickory

I don’t want to discount the generosity of all who have shown it this past two weeks. But Cristian is over the top. We have been to his restaurant four times since we’ve between here and he has comped is two of  those meals. He comped our first meal – we always  have our first and last dinner with him. And he comped us last night’s dinner – kristi’s birthday. I’m sorry, but where would you get that treatment in the U.S.?

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Julia with Kristi and our panna cotta

This is why we love Italy, and Orvieto. Yes, we have been coming here for 14 years but the same longevity doesn’t translate in America. I’m not being critical, I’m just pointing out a beautiful characteristic of this sweet town that still amazes and stuns me.

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Julia, Cristian, and Rolanda our Trattoria d'Aronne family

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Colors!!!

Today was the Corteo Storico, Orvieto’s incredible parade of hundreds in medieval costume. The parade was held but cancelled part way through due to rain. Still, we got to see two of the four elements, each different, each full of color, pageantry, drama. Here is one part.

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Our friend Alberto, who basically runs the parade

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Just a couple of the dozens of different flags

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The level of craftsmanship in the costumes, flags, weapons is just stunning. Such a treat to experience this exceptional Orvieto tradition!

Melting to Velvet

Thursday the twice weekly market is in town full of the freshest produce. We went and gathered goodies for a picnic to have in the courtyard.

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In the afternoon we went out to Palazzone vineyard on a beautiful afternoon. It is just incredible as the afternoon progresses how the light gets softer and softer turning the hills into the gentlest velvet.

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A bit of the lawn in front of the locanda built around 1200

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Orvieto in the background

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The view of Orvieto from the terrace where we tasted 4 wines and these delicacies.

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Back on the rock after dinner – an evening stroll.

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Just hard not to love this place!!

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