Today we traveled to the beautiful hilltop town of Orvieto. It is also in Umbria, Spoleto’s region of Italy, so it was a closer drive than some of our other day trips. Our first adventure after arriving in Orvieto was the funicular ride from lower Orvieto (where the bus dropped us off) into the historic town.
Once in Orvieto, we visited the well of St. Patrick, which served as the water supply for the whole town. The well has two very long spiral staircases – one for descending and one for ascending – so we enjoyed the changing views and temperatures as we made the hike all the way down and back up.
Next, we walked along the beautiful street up to the Duomo, a cathedral which contrasts stunningly with the scale of the surrounding town. Because Orvieto was historically a residential site for the pope, it has an unusually elaborate cathedral for a smaller town. Inside the Duomo, we enjoyed seeing the unusual amber windows and the incredible chapel of San Brizio with a depiction of the last judgment by Signorelli (although the work was begun by Fra Angelico and Gozzoli).
Next to the Duomo, we visited the Etruscan Museum containing artifacts from the Etruscan settlement in Orvieto, a civilization that flourished in the area until the 3rd century BCE. The Etruscans buried their dead in elaborate tombs below the town, and many of these were preserved until they were discovered in the modern era. After the museum, students had free time to explore the town, do some shopping, and enjoy the local cuisine.
After a little time at the convent to relax, students had a chance to try some other Spoletino restaurants for faculty dinners. Students split into groups to have dinner with a pair of faculty members, so some dined with Niccolo/Andrea, some with AJ/John, and others with Sarah/Clare. Students and faculty alike enjoyed the chance to explore a bit more and get to know one another better.