Orvieto Legends

floating church 2
Orvieto! From a distance, the famous cathedral floats over the town. Up close, just getting there is a pilgrimage. First, a funicular, which is like a streetcar up the mountain. And I mean UP.  It’s because the city is built on a volcano plug, much like the Devil’s Tower in Close Encounters. At the top, we take a free circular bus. The maniac driver careens down streets so tiny I could have put my hand out and touched the walls we were passing. And we weren’t going slow; all the pictures I took are blurs. But then, the duomo. Completed in 1310, it is knock your eyes out beautiful.

pillarsFor me there was more than the beauty of the carving, the gold, the mosaics, the statues. Part of the design consists of four “pillars” – Adam and Eve, Jesus’ Family Tree, a tree of life (I think) and the resurrection. I found the pictures tremendously moving. Trying to understand why, I remembered my first time in Athens, riding on a bus through the city, the Acropolis soared into view and I cried. My emotion was similar here. No matter what I believe now, these stories were the ones told to me as I grew up. They formed a base in my life, as did the Greek myths;


madonna closeup
Anyway, I have placed a slide show of pictures from this marvelous church below. I love the pigeon resting on Mary’s hand, the lively heads of apostles (I’m not sure; maybe they are the donors to the building fund), and the creation story carved into one of the pillars (note the protective plastic at the bottom of the pillar…tourists can’t resist touching.) It begins with Eve being taken from Adam’s rib, followed by the perfidious snake,the casting out of Eden. On the resurrection pillar, angels blow horns to awake the souls. And notice the skeleton – surprisingly correct, although the skull looks like E.T.

Even if these aren’t your stories, the artistry is to be wondered at. We have one more day in Italy, a night at the opera, then finito and on to other things. Wishing you all a new year of health, creativity and happiness.

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