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Cornell in Rome

College of Architecture, Art and Planning

Adventure in Orvieto

August 16, 2009

View from Orvieto

With the need for adventure, I woke up early Sunday morning to catch the train with a friend to Orvieto, a small, originally Etruscan, hill town. With a cappuccino and cornetto (croissant), we started the day off right, and began to explore the town, which is perched atop a plateau with steep cliffs on every side. It’s easily defensible position also gives Orvieto some unseen attributes. The town is built upon soft rocks, which allowed the original inhabitants to carve down into the hill to create underground cellars, networks of tunnels, and pigeon hatching centers for food.

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Further exploration revealed the city’s Duomo, a massive black and white stone church that still has one of the most ornate facades I have scene, locals playing beautiful street music, and great views from every side of the town. Knowing that there was a train back to Rome every two hours, we decided to stay later and later, wishing to fully enjoy Orvieto.


After dinner, we saw a free concert with the Duomo’s dramatic stone walls as a backdrop. While listening to traditional Irish songs though, we lost track of time, and realized, after rushing to the now closed tram station, that we were stranded in Orvieto.


With only three and four star hotels, charging over a hundred euro’s a night, to choose from, we decided to rough it out in Orvieto. We passed the night looking up at the illuminated Duomo, conversing with local college students, and searching for an acceptable patch of grass on which to sleep. After waking in a frenzy to spits and hisses, we realizing that the reason the lawn next to the Duomo was so nice and well maintained was because it was watered at night. Amazingly dry but still tired, we moved closer to the tram station and found large, clean cardboard boxes in which to sleep. As an architecture student, I saw my cardboard box as my first temporary housing project, providing shelter, bedding and blanket all in one! We woke in the morning and caught the early train back to Rome safe and sound. Our twenty four hour excursion had come to an end.


Looking back on the weekend, I would not have had it any other way. Yes, I would have slept in my bed if we had caught the train, but I never would have seen the concert, talked with local students about politics and life in Italy, experienced homelessness, or watched the sun rise over the hills of the Italian countryside. What was a normal day trip, turned into an adventure that I will now remember forever. I gained a greater sense of confidence and the knowledge that roughing it out can truly be fun.

Duomo (Day)Duomo (Afternoon)Duomo (Night)Concert-backdrop

One thought on “Adventure in Orvieto

  1. Fantastic – what a great experience… I have had a few of these myself and
    like you, will never forget them. (You must be part Hippie) The pictures are fab and help tell the story. That church is incredible looking.
    We will put Orvieto on our list for when we are in Rome in Feb – Mar.,
    but I don’t think we will be following your itinerary or accommodations…Thinking of you lots!
    Big Hugs and keep up the good fun…Love Florie

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