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Orvieto and Todi - Day 3

posted Jul 11, 2011, 11:47 PM by Jen Hayes

Monday dawned bright and early -- this was our earliest scheduled day, with a bus arriving at 9 am to begin our journey through several small hill towns of Tuscany.  Breakfast was again an expansive and varied assortment of pastries, meats and cheeses, and our hostess checked in to make sure we had everything we could want, and enough of it.

“I love these cakes,” offered Jen, polishing hers off.  “The ones with the rice pudding kind of filling?  They‘re SO good.”
“Well, have another,” William suggested.
“I said I LIKED them -- not that I could eat six at a go!”

Eating is a bit of a strategy sport here in Italy.  There is such a variety of spectacular food at every meal, it’s hard to choose what to fill our plates with and which dishes to only sample.  Our bellies full, we hopped into the van that pulled up the long driveway just outside our courtyard.  We had a two hour drive into the town of Orvieto, set at the top of a hill.  Instead of an arduous climb, however, we were introduced to the concept of a funicular, a pair of trams following a track up and down a hill on a pulley system, each counterbalancing the other’s weight in making the climb up.  Reminded of a piece from our last trip to Italy and with the tram to ourselves, we all hummed a quick round of "Funiculi Funicula" as we ascended.  We got a chance to visit the Duomo in Orvieto, a cathedral is noted for a fresco called "The Last Judgement," a particularly graphic scene of damned souls being pulled down to hell by demons.  One of the painters of this fresco, completed in 1451, even painted his ex-girlfriend into the scene!

After a bit more exploring and photo-taking, we headed back to the bus and began a journey up to Todi for lunch.  The road wound up, down, and even through the hills of the region showcasing the beautiful landscapes of the region.  Sunflowers are in full bloom and fields and fields are planted with this crop, shading the hills a gentle gold.  The word for sunflower in Italian is girasolle -- “to turn to the sun.”

We got to Todi at around 2 pm for lunch at Pane e Vino, a small restaurant at the edge of this little town that was reachable this time by a glass elevator on an upward sloping track.  We were seated by our gracious hostess and made short work of the bottles and bottles of water, both naturale and frizzante, brought to the table.  The days have been hot and humid, and staying hydrated is a top priority.  Of course having taken care of this we quickly moved on to the menus, first ordering red wine and appetizers for the table before selecting individual entrees.  Plates and plates of antipasti appeared on the table: a variety of sliced meats including local salami, prosciutto, ham, and goose, parmesan cheese with marsala jelly, pork belly drizzled with balsamic vinegar, crostini with bleu cheese and honey… the list continued.  The main dishes were just as delicious, and cameras came out to capture the beautiful presentation of the meal.

The group split up after lunch, some walking to a nearby gelateria to choose their favorite gelato flavors to bring to a local park overlooking the view, the rest taking a jaunt through the narrow roads and meandering paths of the city.  Lodi is a playful town -- we posed with a humorous sculpture, took pictures of Snow White and the seven dwarves statues, and even passed by the tempting swings and merry-go-round of a small playground.

Then it was on to one of the highlights of the day, a trip to ceramics factory of G. Grazia  & C. in Deruta.  But that’s another post!