by Melinda Gallo

Driving down to Orvieto

Our friends from Paris have rented a villa in Umbria in a small town called Massa Martana. We looked at taking a train, but it got too complicated. Our friends said that we should rent a car to come down. We hadn't thought of it, but decided it was a great idea. We haven't driven a car in Italy since we moved here in 2004.

Living in Florence :: Driving down to Orvieto

We picked up the car in Borgo Ognissanti and had tentative plans to meet our friends in front of the Duomo in Orvieto, which is also in Umbria, at 11AM. A friend of mine told me that it would take two hours to get there. We left Florence at 9:30AM after being at the car rental agency at 9AM when it opened and hoped we'd make it in time.

The guy at the car rental agency told me how to get to the A1 autostrada (freeway) to Rome. It's a route that I've gone on in a bus, but had never driven. It's odd to know the streets and yet never have had the experience driving on them.

Driving on the autostrada was fun for me. First off, I was probably the only woman that Dave and I noticed in the driver's seat. I love driving on the autostrada because it feels so fluid to me, like using the fast lane only to pass people up.

We got off at Orvieto and followed the signs to the centro (downtown area). We parked the car next to a church and walked to the Duomo. We were quite surprised to have arrived so early. I was told it would take 2 hours, but it only took us 1.5 hours. Maybe I liked driving too much on the autostrada.

Our friends were running late, so we decided to walk around town. The people in all the shops were quite friendly. There were many locals in the streets pushing passeggini (strollers). Many of them were meeting in the street as they were walking around the pedestrian area and talking about their past or future holidays.

I took a picture of the Duomo off the side street because like the Duomo in Siena, it's hard to get the entire facciata (fašade) without a wide-angle lens.

We walked around some more with our friends once they arrived. They came with their two little girls as well as another couple and their daughter. After having lunch in a small restaurant in a side street, it began to rain. We ate our gelati in the street while it rained.

We ran to our cars and we followed them to their villa in Massa Martana. It was an 18th century villa completely restored and in fantastic shape. There was a large garden on both sides of the house, and a large swimming pool. Because of the rain, we didn't go for a swim.

We ended our day by enjoying an Italian dinner prepared by the two men on the terrace. It was wonderful to sit outside without any mosquitoes and feel the cool air all around us. It was the best and coolest evening we've had in weeks.

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