Day 8: Orvieto, Italy

Today (Sunday) we visited Orvieto, an ancient city about 90 minutes away from Rome. In Orvieto, we saw both the necropolis and acropolis. The necropolis, situated outside the city and separated by a cliff from the acropolis, had unique features. Every tomb in Crocifisso del Tufo had a name, of which very few had writing that read from left to right, as most inscriptions went from right to left. One of the tombs was circular, making it distinct from its rectangular counterparts. This tomb was said to belong to an aristocratic woman, and was built so as to connect with other members of the family. The necropolis dates back to 7th century BCE. Within the city walls was the acropolis which hosted a variety of historic spots. One of these spots was the archaeological site of Professor David George who has worked as an archeologist for decades. In his site we got to explore a pyramidal sanctuary home to Kelu, a wolf-like deity. This sanctuary was said to date back to 460 BCE. In addition to the sanctuary, there was also a Columbaria, a pigeon farm. In the Columbaria we saw ancient pieces of common-ware. One of these inscriptions was “Gna” which later evolved into the famous praenomen “Gnaius”. This site is also home to the site with most inscriptions (400+ pieces). Orvieto, with its lofty defensible location, was a favored city of the popes. In 1290, wanting to build the most beautiful and largest cathedral, officials commissioned artists and architects to plan and build the Duomo di Orvieto. The Duomo is a work of art. Its columns and ceiling, built of basalt and travertine, were made to reflect the current fad—stripes. The frescoes in the inner cavities also contribute to the overall artistic power of the Duomo, for they depict different artistic movements and, as a whole, work as transitionary art pieces. For one, one fresco painted in 1504 depicts scenes of plague, war, and apocalypse. Using shadows, the art comes to life and adds depth and perspective. Another fresco painted in the fourteenth century adheres more to the style of “comic strips”. This transition between the arts adds another layer of beauty to the Duomo di Orvieto, in addition to its architecture and golden windows. – Cesar

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