Italy, day 4: Tuoro, Orvieto & Bolsena

We left our lovely camping site near lake Trasimeno on the morning of our fourth day. Before bidding farewell to the lake, we made one last visit to Tuoro, on the north shore, where statues are erected as a memorial for Hannibal’s ambush of the Roman army during the second Punic War. It was a gruesome battle in which those who were not killed drowned in trying to swim away. There was so much blood that the lake is said to have turned red for days.

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The memorial site is an assemblage of menhir-like statues disposed in a circular fashion. The ensemble is very harmonious and sheltered between a small forest and the lake shore, making you feel out of time as you amble around the place.

We were then to head West to the sea, but Orvieto wasn’t that far, and I really, really wanted to visit the city, so we made a small detour. It was definitely a great idea, the city is beautiful, a tad overly touristic (of course it is, how could it not be?), full of art shops and visitable caves.

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This is what greeted us once we parked the car and took the funicular, the easiest way to reach the city. This has to be the most majestic cathedral I’ve ever seen.

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We climbed a tower and had a fantastic view of Orvieto and the surrounding country. The city is built on a volcanic butte, meaning it is protected by cliffs.

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Orvieto is also known for its tunnels, dug all under the city in the volcanic rock. We visited some of them through a guided tour. The tunnels has had several uses in the past: during war times, people couldn’t get out of the city, so they had a limited space to grow their food and raise animals. The tunnels were used as dovecotes: pigeons would fly out of the tunnels through small windows and find their own food, so they didn’t need to be fed by people. Once the pigeons were big enough, they were killed and eaten. Their droppings were collected and used as fertilisers for the gardens. Nothing was wasted.

The galleries were also used as cellars, citerns and workshops, most notably to produce olive oil. They also were a mean of escape for the rich during a siege.

We strolled through the city and visited some art shops, from which I bought a copy of Verdirosi’s Il servo padrone (The slave master).

We sadly had to leave to reach our next destination, Bolsena, where we planned to spend the night. We reached the city in the end of the afternoon, set camp near the lake and headed to visit the village. We were surpised to see a lot of people. One of them explained to us that the village regularly hosted a flower market, which was why so many people were strolling and eating in the restaurants. We wandered through the small streets, which were cluttered by flower stalls.

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We kept walking toawrd the upper streets and stumbled upon – you guessed it – a castle.

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By then the night was falling and the sky was beautiful.

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