As we hit Orvieto, the Umbrian city closest to Rome, Italy was playing a World Cup soccer game. The streets were empty, but we could hear the play-by-play of the game echoing down the narrow cobblestoned streets from every direction. Then we came across a bar in a square, big screen tv mounted near the doorway, a crowd of locals gathered around, gasping at every close call, howling indignantly at every perceived foul.
We tore ourselves away from the game, and wandered off to find the massive duomo, which was built beginning in the late 13th century. The excuse for such a large duomo in a small city? While Pope Urban IV was passing by in the 1260's a Communion Host conveniently dripped blood on an altar linen. This was considered a miracle by the pope, so a suitable shrine was needed to house the bloodstained linen, and hey, presto!, the cathedral was commissioned. (thanks to my Cadogan travel guide for that info)
The duomo really is spectacular, although on this particular trip we first circled around the rear of the complex, which looks quite shabby and in need of much repair. Obviously the money all goes into the front of the church, which literally takes your breath away as you march around the back corner to the front. The day was clear, the skies, well, they were sky-blue, but a brisk windy was blowing, and as the clouds scudded by a spectacular vista was created.
Pic of the Day: My friend Judy Witts Francini had recommended a B+B to us, and Judy’s recommendations are usually gold, so off we went, armed with a list of directions a page long which took us past roundabouts, dirt lanes, the 8th largest church in the world and finally to Agriturismo Alla Madonna del Piatto, with a view of Assisi’s San Francesco Basilica. The skies had closed in and dumped a few showers on the area, just in time for us to arrive and capture a photo of a faint double rainbow from the view from our room. Not bad, eh? Very nice accommodations and more than helpful advice on touring the area from the owner, Letizia. Tomorrow, more on San Francesco and his love of birds.