Monday is a good day to visit Orvieto. All the locals are back at work or school. The nonnas who were out pushing grandchildren in prams and showing them off to friends on Sunday are now pushing their shopping trolleys and getting in the groceries. Groups of tourists visit the town but only stay for a few hours. It’s quiet.
My hotel is quiet too. It’s been quiet for 3 of the 4 days I have been here. I haven’t seen another person at breakfast though the dining room seats 50. One morning there was a group of Germans but they were leaving the hotel as I was getting to breakfast. It’s an old-fashioned, family-run place. The furniture is solid, the drapes in the public areas are heavy and dark, the sheets are monogrammed and the bed gets ‘turned down’every evening. The building itself is very old with shuttered windows and, best of all, its just off the main piazza from the Duomo so very convenient for the bus and train.
From the third floor terrace there is a view of the Duomo. Looking in the other direction, this is the view.
See the pale blue thing attached to the top of the building? I wondered what it was. My trusty Lonely Planet describes Orvieto’s most famous festival, the Palombella, held on Pentecost Sunday since 1404. The festival celebrates good luck and the Holy Spirit, whose symbol is a dove. A dove is put in a cage which is suspended on a wire. The wire goes from the building you can see in the photo down 300 metres through the laneway next to my hotel to the foot of the steps of the Duomo. Fireworks surround the cage to add to the spectacle – and the terror of the bird- then, when they are lit, the cage, bird and fireworks hurtle down to the steps of the Duomo. The last couple to marry in the cathedral get to keep the bird for a year.
I imagine that my hotel will be full for the festival. The flaming dove speeds right past on its flying fox and the upstairs terrace would give great views.