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Gumbo's Pic of the Day, November 22, 2014: Orvieto



Almost at the end of a round-the-world trip, idling in Rome with nothing in particular planned until our flights home, travel pal Jim and I decided to take the train to Orvieto for a wander around on a gray Christmas Eve.


The old town sits on a plateau above the train station and is reached by crossing a small piazza to the funicular, or funicolare, that runs up the cliffside.  From the top, there’s a town bus that takes residents and tourists to the Piazza Duomo and the Duomo di Orvieto, that dwarfs all else around it.


We stopped to eat a few steps off the piazza, down the Via del Duomo, in a restaurant filled with families and groups of friends having Christmas Eve lunch together.  Afterward, we split up to wander, each on our own, although we kept meeting in various parts of the small town.  I found a gallery or 2 that was open, as well as an outdoor market, full of practical items for everyday use, in an open area down narrow alleys some way from the upscale tourist lanes.  We met up again in front of the duomo to catch the bus to the funicular for the return trip down the mountain to the train and back to Rome.


The cafe in the picture is in the train station and was a warm and friendly place to have a coffee before our train arrived.  One side was filled with festive gifts to buy for the holidays and our fellow coffee drinkers seemed to be locals, going or returning home for Christmas.












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I was fascinated enough by this brief taste to do a little more reading—and found that Orvieto not only has a funicular, it has an underground. No, not like London, but an extensive system of tunnels cut through the soft rock. Some may have been used for mining or for supplies, but it appears that most of them were created to allow escape from sieges!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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