My mom (Granny) flew in to stay with us for the week. We drove an hour and a half to the Rome airport to pick her up and then an hour and a half to bring her back here to Tuscania. Between all that driving, making lunch, her jet lag and the girls’ excitement over her being here and all of the gifts she brought the day flew by and before we knew it it was dinnertime and the day came to a close. Unfortunately so did my internet connection. I had to call the DSL company, called Alice, which seems so oddly personal. Between my terrible Italian and their terrible English I managed to get a trouble ticket put through and then prayed that service would resume in less than a week. It was not fun.
The next day we went to Orvieto. At this point I feel like a person recounting the same story over and over again but the drive was truly spectacular. Orvieto is in Umbria, perched high above the world on a mountaintop with its Duomo reaching into the sky and visible for miles around.
The drive from Tuscania takes you around Lake Bolsena through Montefiascone and up the winding mountains. When you finally arrive in Orvieto you park your car at the bottom of the hill and take a 1950s era funicular up the side of the mountain. This was a definite highlight of the day for the girls.
Once you reach the top of the mountain and enter the old city a bus whisks you to the Duomo in the center. Isabel was Duomo-ed out. But Sophia wanted to go in and find the audio tour. Luckily for me the audio tour was only 1 Euro and consisted of those little telephone booth style instructional audios that two people can share. We both lost interest in about 10 minutes especially since the main attraction of this Duomo is the incredibly ornate, painted, frescoed and sculpted façade. It’s a little strange to be listening to the guide describe the outside when you are glued to the little telephone inside. But it doesn’t take away from the outrageous beauty of the building.
The big tour of the day was of the Orvieto Underground, which is a series of man-made caves underneath Orvieto first built by the Etruscans then by the later inhabitants. We signed up for the guided tour and followed the group down into the caves. The girls really loved this part. First of all it was nice and cold in the caves, which was a welcome relief from the beating sun outside. Secondly the caves were creepy in an interesting exciting way for seven-year-olds. They especially liked the long narrow well with the foot carvings etched in the sides for going up and down and the huge stone olive oil press that they could touch. This was one of the only places we’ve been to where they’ve been allowed to touch the exhibit and it made it way more interesting and interactive for them.
We decided not to go on with the group to the second cave. Really, how different could another cave be? Actually, the house we are staying in has its own cave right off the kitchen. The girls felt very important when they realized that they had one of their own right here. After lunch we found a tiny, unique doll shop on Via Duomo called L’Altalena that the girls fell in love with. When it reopened after riposo we wandered in and the shop owner appeared to help us. She must have been in her mid-seventies and she looked like one of her dolls. Her blond hair was curled, she had rouged cheeks and mascara-laden eyes and a tiny beauty mark on her cheek. It was almost too much –yet it was perfect.
The store is filled in every nook and cranny with dolls of all shapes and sizes, hair color and textures, different materials and outfits. The owner’s sewing machine is right next to the cash register and when we came in she was working on a lace outfit at her little table. She makes all of the dolls and you can see the detail and craftsmanship when you look at them up close. After serious deliberation the girls chose two miniature porcelain baby dolls in lace dresses with little bonnets. They are hand painted and all of their limbs move independently as well as their heads. This is not something I ever thought about as important in a doll but after the owner demonstrated all of the various components that go in to making her dolls I could begin to see why some dolls cost way more than others. If you were a serious doll collector this would be heaven.
After that incredibly joyous purchase we headed back down the mountain via funicular
and wound our way back to Tuscania for Isabel’s afternoon swim and dinner at home. This time we also had a platter of desserts from the local pasticceria including 6-inch long cannoli shaped like a cone filled with chocolate and vanilla custards and then drizzled with more icing on top, 2 different kinds of buttery sandwich cookies and small chocolate chip studded tozzetti. I don’t think my daughters will ever again eat those Health Valley chocolate chip cookies I stick in their lunchboxes everyday!
This is an original beccarama.com post