Way Up the Hill and to the Left
It is early morning; sunny, warm, windless with bright blue skies and today we are leaving Cinque Terre. We snake single file down the hill, and flow through the tunnel hearing only the sound of “clickety-clack” as the suitcases bump over the rough pavement to the train station. We begin our four train adventure to La Spezia, Pisa, Florence, and then to Orvieto in Umbria. In Florence when we switch trains who do we meet? The Bag Handler approaches SB, takes one look at me and quickly turns away. (See blog “On to Florence”) At one of the many small town stops on our last leg to Orvieto an odd looking man boards. Short haired, clean shaven wearing floor length grey robe tied with a rope belt, he is covered in pale grey. Grey ash colored paste covers his hair, face and even his eyelashes, his hands. He walks slowly up and down the train aisle, as if wanting us all to recognize his presence. No one says a word, no words form on his lips. As he is ignored I am thinking, is this man a priest? Is he in some sort of penance? Can I take a picture of him, I think? No, that would not be right. What if he was a wayward priest? I want to ask someone who he is, but the travelers keep their noses in their papers or books or look away. At the next stop he departs the train. My eyes follow him into the crowd.
By late afternoon we step off the train and look up and up. Orvieto’s old town walls loom above us, touching nothing but blue sky and fluffy sheep clouds. It is warm and balmy and I begin to peel off my layers of clothes. I don my sunglasses as we hail a cab to take us to the height of the old village, to B&B Michelangeli, the apartment we have rented in Orvieto. Winding outside the steep fortified walls we climb higher and higher, it is rather like a top spinning and we are in the mist of it. Once inside the wall we criss-cross through small cobbled lanes and arrive at a dead end street.
This street is far from dead. On the old building walls are intricate wooden wall covering designs. They are beautiful. Why are they here? Who does all this woodworking? Another Pinocchio and Geppetto?
We ring the bell and a tall impeccably groomed Italian man greets us. He explains Francesca, his wife, is getting the children ready for the biggest festival of the year in Orvieto, and will greet us later. There is excitement in his voice as he tells us we do not want to miss the evening parade. He leads us next door, opening an eight foot high double wooden door to our apartment, right next to his home. We are so pleasantly surprised when we are given the grand tour of the apartment we will be staying in for five days. It is huge, but cozy. It is like a country cottage, only in Italy! It is lovingly cared for.
We remark about the beautiful wooden furniture and he explains his family has been the furniture and cabinet makers in Orvieto for centuries and all the furniture in the apartment is hand made by them in a shop right down the street. That explains the wood carvings outside the buildings, signs of the trade. We feel so fortunate to have picked this location and apartment, it is perfect. We hurriedly unload our belongings and following his instructions scurry out to the parade route.
The Streets of Orvieto
If you would like more information on Michelangeli B&B please contact:
Francesca at http://www.bbmichelangeli.com.
Via Saracinelli 20, Orvieto, Italy, Tel: 0763-393862