Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why Slow Down Now??

Returning back to Orvieto was great. Settling back down at home and not having to live out of a suitcase is always a good feeling. The week back was a relaxing one. We didn’t have class on Monday – I guess our professors thought we needed a day as a break between travelling and school haha. We had a somewhat normal class schedule the rest of the week trying to get back in the swing of things. On Wednesday we visited a small wine cellar in town that specializes in a “wine” that’s really a liquor called Svinerre. It is made from grapes and wild cherries. They told us the story behind how it started and what they do, and then they let us do a tasting. It was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever tasted – in a good way. We tried it alone at first and then they gave us biscotti’s, crackers and chocolate to try it with. Not surprisingly, the chocolate was my favorite. It was a cool little visit, and it re-affirmed the fact that these little specialty shops are the reason Orvieto is so unique and beautiful!

Thursday was market day; it was like Christmas because we hadn’t been in over two weeks! Ahhh I love market days. Then later that afternoon in place of Italian class, they took us to the Etruscan Tombs towards the bottom of the cliff. I hadn’t been yet so it was really cool to see all the excavating they had done and all the tombs they’ve discovered. You could even go down inside the tombs – it was a little iffy because you didn’t really know what kind of bugs or animals were living in them, but it was cool to walk around and experience them!
The Etruscan Tombs
Friday marked field trip day – no sense in slowing down the travels now! We loaded up the bus and headed to our first stop of the day, Farnese Palace in the city of Caprarola. This was another one of those places we had studied in history class, and now we were seeing it first-hand. We got to go into a few select rooms, and Marco was able to lead us through to give the tour instead of a random tour guide. This guy knows so much! I will never stop being amazed by the depth of his knowledge. I don’t quite know how to explain the different rooms in the palace that we saw because they were all so grand. They were covered with frescoes of people and in bright colors on the walls and ceilings. There were even some sculpture-like decorations on the ceilings. These people sure had it made! Haha. It was pretty cool walking back to the bus after the tour because we were able to see from afar how the city was built. The palace was at the very top of the hill and all the houses cascaded down from it. Makes sense right? The palace = the people that hold the power and rule over the city – which lies below the palace. Hm… almost like they planned it!
Palace with the cascading houses below
Outside of the palace were their gardens of course. It wasn’t quite as grand as I expected, but it was still pretty nonetheless. Everything is starting to bloom here now so it is beautiful! We walked through the gardens for a while and up a ways to the fountains. It was such a beautiful day out that even though there wasn’t a lot to the gardens, it was awesome to be out enjoying the day!
Flowers :)
We loaded up the bus and headed to our next stop – Bangnia to see Villa Lante. This was another place we had studied in history. Unfortunately the Villa itself was closed, but the gardens were open to enjoy – and enjoy it did I! It was such a beautiful place. It was a terraced garden, and Marco told us the best way to experience it was to climb all the way to the top and start there and work our way down. So that’s what we did. It started with a fountain called the fountain of the floods. It was kind of like three small waterfalls. I love water, so this was awesome. The water led you the rest of the way through the garden – it was so peaceful. Everything was green, the sound of the water was soothing and the sun was shining bright. It was an awesome day.
Fountain of the Floods
After a couple hours here it was time to head home – so back to Orvieto we went. Even the drive through the towns and back home was beautiful. This time of the year in Italy is awesome. We made it back to Orvieto, and I played lazy the rest of the night… and into the next day. I didn’t do much except for hang out at the market for a little bit, lay out in the sun to try to get some color (only accomplished in getting red), and went for a run. It was a very relaxing day and another early night to bed because the next morning we were rising early for Palm Sunday.
We got up at 3:30 am. You think we’re crazy? Well we had tickets to go to Palm Sunday services at the Vatican… so of course we had to get up early! We caught the 5am train and were in Rome by 6. We made our way to the Vatican, and we were close to the front of the line to enter… just had to wait until 8 when they opened the gates. It’s okay though, we are good at the waiting game. We got in and managed to get some good seats. It was pretty exciting! We had another waiting game considering the service didn’t start until 9:30, but we had some entertainment behind us so it was ok. The services began with a long processional with the pope at the end. It was awesome! I got to see THE POPE! He had a cool little car that drove him through the processional and up to the altar – I like to call it the pope-mobile haha. Even though I’m not catholic, I thought it was pretty cool to be in the presence of the pope and the service itself. I think one of the coolest things about the service was that parts of it were said in all different languages, not just Italian. I still couldn’t understand most of it, but the fact that they do that was pretty amazing haha.
 Sun started poking out right as the pope came out... coincidence??
Mr. Pope and his "crew"
After the services we just had one more stop in mind that we didn’t see last time we were there which was the Maxxi Museum. We didn’t really want to see the contents of the museum, just the building mainly – because it was designed by Zaha Hadid. It was a pretty cool little place. There was one exhibit there that caught our attention which was an exhibit catered to architecture and projects that use recycled materials. It was pretty interesting! We walked through the museum – and took pictures of the building even though pictures supposedly weren’t allowed… we took that as pictures of the artwork weren’t allowed, not pictures of the building right?? We were studying! Haha.
Crazy cool stairs inside the museum
After the museum we just headed home. Rome was packed with tourists, and when it is like that, it’s not as fun of an experience like it was back in January when there weren’t very many people around. There are just some rude tourists that can ruin your experience unfortunately! So we decided to get out of there so we could remember Rome as we experienced it back in January. Back at home we grabbed some gelato and called it an evening. Since Sunday the week has been pretty relaxed. Just worked on class projects and journaling and keeping up on my workout/eat healthier kick (but gelato doesn’t count ;) haha)
This week leading up to Easter is an important time for Italy – especially Umbria, the region we are in. Every night this week there is some sort of concert in town, and tonight was the BIG concert. It was held in the Duomo, and it was an orchestra directed by Zubin Mehta. They played a piece by Vivaldi and a couple by Beethoven. It was a very awesome concert, and the acoustics in the Duomo seemed perfect! I really enjoyed it; wish my music major friends could have been here to enjoy it with me!
Duomo at the end of the concert
That's long enough for now... another trip tomorrow followed by a bunch of small day trips during Easter break. Stay tuned!

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