Day 13

Today’s final destination was an agriturismo outside Orvieto. On our way there we stopped in Lower Assisi to see the tiny church (inside this much larger church) where St. Francis realized his faith and where he died.

Back on the bus we drove up to upper Assisi to grab a light lunch (panini) and tour the cathedral.

The weather had turned stormy so we took shelter under an archway to have lunch and wait out the rain. Our local guide joined us and luckily the thunderstorm passed after a bit and allowed us a mostly dry walk up to the cathedral.

This church is unusual because it’s basically two churches on top of one another. It holds the remains of St. Francis. The walls inside were covered with beautiful frescos but no pictures were allowed.

After a very informative tour, we all hit the restroom and then headed back to the bus. It wasn’t long until we caught back up with the thunderstorm. Everyone was very sleepy on the bus, but woke up while we were in the middle of the excitement.

The storm hadn’t let up when we arrived at the agriturismo, and it was a wet ordeal grabbing our bags off the bus and finding out rooms. Luckily for us, the storm moved on by the time we met up again for our tour of the grounds and wine tasting.

After a very educational wine tasting, we proceeded down the hill to the resort’s restaurant and had a fabulous dinner. Everything was very flavorful and it was nice to have a lighter dinner.

Day 14

Another cloudy, wet day greeted us but we were determined to make the most of it. While we had the option to stay at the agriturismo and relax (they have a spa) all day, many of us chose to visit the hilltop part of Orvieto. Mom had actually been in touch with a friend of a friend who lived there as well and made plans for us to meet us later in the day.

A short bus and funicular ride later we were high above lower Orvieto and even more in the clouds. We waited out the worst of the rain in a small cafe where Sarah treated us to cappuccinos.

Sarah guided us as far as the cathedral where we switched to RS’ audio tour. Similar to the duomo in Siena, the building is very stripy due to the alternating marble and basalt layers. This church used to be filled with sculptures, covered with frescos, and heavily ornamented, but has since been mostly emptied to focus attention on the most important thing, a relic of the miracle of Bolsena.

After we’d seen our fill of the church, a smaller group of us gathered up again to take a tour of the Etruscan caves that are so prolific under the city. They were used for a variety of things throughout history: livestock pens, food storage, pigeon aviaries, olive oil production, water storage, and more recently, bomb shelters.

After the cave tour finished, we met up with David, a friend of a friend who transplanted from CA to Orvieto 4 years ago. With David as our guide, we further explored Orvieto, until we had to head back to meet at the funicular.

We got back to the agriturismo mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day relaxing in our room and walking the beautiful grounds.

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