Orvieto: The Start of an adventure



My name is Samuel Koehler and I am a Junior in the landscape architecture BED program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

I started the day early in Rome and made my way to Termini station on the crowded H bus line. Upon arrival I was amazed at the size of the train station and even more so by this unfamiliar and convenient way of travel. When I boarded the train I was ushered towards my cabin which featured a set of six comfortable seats and a great view out of the window. As we sped through the Italian countryside I was bewildered by the beauty of the hills and the Tiber, which followed us along our journey.

We arrived in Orvieto close to 11:00 AM and we rode the funicular up to the plateau, which held the peaceful and quiet town. Upon arrival I was immediately romanced by the wonderful views and fresh air, which deeply contrasted the hazy and claustrophobic streets of Rome. We made our way through the quaint and winding streets of the town towards our first destination, the Orvieto underground.

I simply loved the Orvieto underground with its intricate design and its carefully crafted pigeon holes. The caves also featured grand views of the countryside from small openings in the sides of the cliff. We were guided through the caves by a knowledgable tour guide that explained the formation of the plateau and the long history of the different civilizations that had taken up residence within the town.


After visiting the caves our merry band of students stopped to have lunch at a local restaurant. Having found out that the local delicacy of the town was pigeon my fellow students, Alexi and Zhuo, decided to order this fine dish and said that it was quite flavorful and reminded them of duck. I myself had the wild boar, which was rich and flavorful. After lunch our group made our way again through the winding streets towards the St. Patricks well; also known as Pozzo di S. Patrizio in Italian.

Later through research I would learn that this very well was constructed by the first architect, Antonio da Sangallo the younger. Sangallo was commissioned to design the well by Pope Clement VII who had taken up residence in Orvieto during the sack of Rome. The well was incredibly deep (174 ft) and featured 70 arched windows for illumination. The stairs went down into the earth in a double helix to allow for access from two points.


The Pozzo di S. Patrizio was awesome. It sent shivers down my spine when I leaned over the edge to see the bottom far below. Upon reaching the bottom of the well we were treated to a grand view up the shaft where the light from above shown down and made the raindrops shimmer as they fell towards the purgatory that we stood in.


After exiting the well we left for the train station at the base of the plateau having enjoyed a full and eventful day in Orvieto. Upon boarding our train for Rome I felt a wave of melancholy wash over me as I realized that I may never see this wonderful and peaceful town again in my life. However, this melancholy was short lived as I realized that I still had many exciting adventures ahead.

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