Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Orvieto to Naples - Admiral Robert Carney Park

Orvieto is built on plateau set on volcanic tuff cliffs above the plain. Unfortunately the cliffs have been crumbling and a
 lot of work needs to be done to shore it up. No one is jumping to take responsibility.
We left Manarolo in the Cinque Terre very early in the morning. Our second day we found a ticket on our windshield for 120 euros. The car was supposed to be parked beyond the second gate - which Scott didn't see as it was open for the emergency preparations. So we had to stop in the police station in Riomaggiore to plead for understanding. A very professional and English speaking woman officer there agreed to reduce the fine to 30 euros, which we paid. Our car could manage 5 people but not 4 huge suitcases (and many smaller packages) so we were PACKED into the car. We dropped Walt and Honoree off in La Spezia and they took the train to Naples. We and all the luggage drove.
The beautiful countryside visible off the walls of the city.
Orvieto was once a major center of Etruscan civilization.

The Duomo, the Cathedral of Orvieto
begun in 1290

The Creation, carved on the facade

The Plaza in front of the Cathedral

A detail of the beautifully carved columns on the facade.

Typical narrow "picolo" with hanging
vines and plants

The town was bustling with activity
It was a six hour drive so I studied the map looking for a good place to walk around and have lunch, and found that Orvieto was half way. The guide book description sounded great as well. But it was magical to see the city hanging up in the sky above the flat vineyards all around. Think of a Southwest American mesa. After a very good lunch (gory details entry for Italy coming up soon) we walked rather aimlessly around the lovely city. I'm a sucker for these atmospheric narrow streets and the dramatically lit vistas at the end. Suddenly we came upon the open plaza and Cathedral - amazing. The facade is covered with Lorenzo Maitani's bas-relief sculpture and intricately carved columns and the sides are striped with green and white marble.
Naturally our visit took longer than expected and we found ourselves entering Naples at rush hour to pick up Walt and Honoree at a hotel a few blocks from the train station. This is a life threatening experience and I am NOT kidding. "Free for all" rather defines it, and at maximum available speed. It's the motor scooters that are the scariest. They come at you from every direction and fast. Thank goodness I've been here and in other crazy driving countries before. But it took both of us totally focused to make it there and out again. Later a guard at the base, upon being asked for a recommendation on where to have dinner, said, "It's dangerous to drive around here. You should take a taxi or tour bus." When he heard about our trip in and out of the city, he had no doubt about our ability to survive (anywhere).
We thought we had clear sailing once we were on the motorway (the base is about 20 minutes north) but came to a dead stop right after exiting. For the next hour we crept along the road all the way into the base, which is located inside an extinct volcano crater. It was their Halloween Party that night and every military family and Italian worker's on the bases families were coming. There were over two thousand attending. The cottages were turned into "trick or treat" houses with appropriate scary themes. Tents and BBQs were set up with food and tables. There was lots of entertainment for the kids. And the costumes were wonderful.
But after having some dinner and enjoying the show, we were exhausted and it looked like our home for the night was in the center of the party. When we couldn't find the number of our cabin, an officer ended our worries by pointing over to the other side of the crater - the dark side. "You're way over there." "Yes", we cried.
Like our previous cabin at Camp Darby in Pisa, it was log cabin with a front porch. It had only one bedroom however, a bunk bed was in the living/kitchen space, but if had loft. So Walt and Honoree moved their mattresses up there and had a cozy retreat to themselves. The kitchen, which we had been promised, was there but nothing to cook/eat with. The next day we were able to rent all of that cheaply so we had some nice meals at home the following week.
The next morning the beautiful view of the crater's rim all around was lit up with sunshine. The remains of the party were already cleared away and children were arriving for multiple soccer games. It's a beautiful spot with every kind of recreation facility including a golf course. We hiked up to the rim and around it that day and ate lunch at the golf course restaurant, watching football. It was a great relaxing day. Tomorrow we're off to drive the Amalfi Coast.
Cured meats, especially those with boars meat are a
specialty here.

Who would think to build a house on
an arch over the street - or was the
road built under?

I can't resist these views...

I love these narrow streets. Well,
obviously as I keep taking their

Great costume and makeup, right? We
were surprised by a huge Halloween party
at the Navy Recreation Base in Naples.

I really loved Princess Leia center but all the kids had
amazing costumes

The fire blower and juggler was a great favorite

Our cabin in the volcano

Wild cyclamens in the woods

That's the rim of the volcano crater above the cabins. It's
further up than it looks!

Our fire starter Honoree cooked steaks one night and
another just lit it for atmosphere.

Sitting out on the porch in the sunshine

No comments: