The weather has improved greatly since last week, when it was rainy, gray and chilly enough to require all sorts of winter accessories. Sunshine now floods the streets again, and a light jacket is all that’s necessary to comfortably go around town. With such great weather, I couldn’t say no to my friend Bonnie’s invitation to go on a passeggio through town. First we wandered through the Palazzo dei Sette, where there was a bridal expo going on. I had never been able to go into the Palazzo, so it was interesting to see just how big it was. We were confounded by the contents of each room—what do comforters and bathrobes have to do with a wedding? I wondered if couples registered for gifts, like in the States. Photographers had displays of wedding shots they’d done, there were a couple rooms of gowns, and even a room where a bride and groom—ambiguous if they were really a coppia or not—sat and greeted entrants. We were handed tons of flyers, even though that day is far away. I felt bad taking some of the nicer ones, and at one table I sheepishly asked if I could give it back to them. “You’re not getting married?” they asked. “Non ancora,” I said, grinning. (Not yet.) There are certain things I think I want for a wedding, but I doubt I would have been able to purchase any of those things at the bridal expo…
Giggling, we left the palazzo and headed down Corso Cavour. Eventually we ended up on the east side of town, on the edge of the cliff where there’s a clear view of the hills, the Badia (an old monastery, now a hotel and restaurant), and homes sloping down toward Orvieto Scalo. A little public garden with benches, some flowers and trees sprouting red fruit that look like a cross between cherries and grapes is on that side of town, and I had never been inside. A map of the town and the route that goes around Orvieto that has small Etruscan sites of interest, and nearby where we stood was the Canicella Necropolis.
Orvieto has two necropoli, one of which is the Crocifisso del Tufo, excavated in great part by Mancini in the 19th century, and again by Dr. Mario Bizzarri, father of our own professor, in the 20th cenutry. The other necropolis is the Canicella Necropolis, where there is also a sanctuary. One of the more famous Etruscan figures in the Museo del Claudio Faina is a one-breasted Venus from the Canicella Sanctuary. Neither Bonnie nor I had ever been to either site, and they looked nearby on the map. So, although we were both dressed in nice clothes, I still in my church attire, and both in boots (mine heeled), we thought it would be nice to go explore where we hadn’t been before.
Down a long spiral staircase, we were spit out onto the lower side of the cliff. The only reference we had was the image of the dots on the map, which we had only looked at for a minute or so. After determining which direction in which to walk, we meandered down the slope. Soon, we did find the sanctuary, but it was locked. Further research confirmed that the gate was always locked, and the only one who had the key was Bengazino, who works for the Soprentendenza. We figured we might as well look for the necropolis, too, so we turned and continued down another dirt path. The rain from the previous week had reinforced the greens and yellows and reds of the plants and grasses. Some flowers were blooming, and we eventually realized the route we had chosen led us only to residential homes. An old man was working in his garden nearby. We were lost.
“Buon giorno, signore,” I said, hoping he wouldn’t be terribly weirded out by the image of two blond American twenty-somethings in leather boots and sweat marks on their blouses.
“Buon giorno,” he said hesitantly.
“Lei sa dov’e il necropolo?” Not only were we two blond Americans who were sweating in the fall sunshine after an impromptu choice to go on a long walk, we were asking where the necropolis was. We wanted to see the dead people. He gave us directions, and we turned around. By then, though, we had been walking for an hour and my heeled, booted feet were getting sore. After another ten minutes of walking, we decided we could return on another day. Perhaps a day on which we were better prepared for the steep paths and the long climb back up.
I returned home sweaty, but glad I could get some cardio in after a week of no yoga, no exercise other than sitting on trains and walking the stony streets of Pavia. Next time we go, I’m looking forward to bringing my camera with me and showing you all what I’m talking about. Next time we go, I’m definitely looking forward to wearing my sneakers.