The Etruscan Next Door: Part II

Art & Archaeology in Umbria

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Women’s Liberation, B.C.

In Etruscan society, women were respected and fully engaged in their community.  You might say Etruria was the first “community property state”; women owned land and homes just as men did.  Perhaps a bit envious, a Greek man once was quoted to have critically bellowed, “Etruscan women sit around sipping wine with their husbands under the same blanket.”  That sounds like “sour grapes” to me.

Gli Etruschi Mangiano Bene

As their neighbor, it’s conceivable you’d be invited to their house for dinner.  Porchetta, a common Umbrian dish, was laid down on many an Etruscan table centuries ago – still made by the same formula today – pork stuffed with wild fennel, rosemary, sage, salt and pepper, then roasted.  Lorenzo Polgeri, owner of Ristorante Zeppelin writes in his book The Etruscan Chief, “Our ancestors were great farmers of cereals and grains.  They created the core of our cuisine with ancient cereals like barley and farro, and legumes rich in protein like chickpeas, fava beans and lentils.”  There’s evidence they produced cheese and flatbread…pizza? After dinner they drank wine while lounging on the couch listening to music.

The Mystic Etruscans

Most of what we know about Etruscans is speculation, however, experts have pieced together a clearer picture of Etruscan life based on artifacts found in archeological digs such as the one by Mr. Bizzarri’s team.  This new find will hopefully shed more light on the mysterious lives of Etruscans.  But will we ever be sure what it was like to be them?  Ahh.. to be an ancient fly on a tufa wall!

Toni DeBella

by Toni DeBella

A Freelance writer and blogger at Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy.  She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.

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The Etruscan Next Door

Art & Archaeology
The Etruscans are in the news again!  Claudio Bizzarri of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell’Orvietano has uncovered the first of possibly five 5th century B.C. – or earlier – Etruscan hypogean pyramidal spaces.  These are the first discovered in Etruria (Umbria, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio)The team dug through 20th century earth to find space beneath the medieval floor of a wine cellar in the historical center of Orvieto.  The discovery is an important find and one that’s sparked a renewed interest in this fascinating civilization that had its heyday nearly 1,000 years before Rome was a gleam in Mars’ eye.

My Etruscan Neighbors


6th Century BCE Cup

What would it have been like to live next door to an Etruscan?

Etruscans were short in stature but long on engineering and cultural sophistication.  They were adept at making wine, perfected the terracotta potter’s wheel, and were stellar metalworkers. Etruscan authority Professor Claudio Bizzarri recounts how Etruscan clay sculptors were called to Rome to decorate the Temple of Jupiter with statues. “They taught Romans to use civil engineering instruments to survey and build their famous roads”. Etruscan innovation is astounding, especially when you consider they didn’t have the benefit of modern machinery.  Their civilization survived from 900 B.C. until its decline and integration into Roman culture around 100 B.C.

Can I Borrow a Cup of “Zucchero?”

Fine, maybe the Etruscans didn’t have sugar, but they lived an orderly and communal lifestyle – adept at dividing land and spaces.  In fact, the architectural feature “atrium tuscanicum”, was originally Etruscan, not Roman.  Etruscan houses were covered with stucco and painted bright colors.  “They might have been considered a little “kitschy” for our tastes today”, laughed Prof. Bizzarri.

(part II coming soon..)

Toni DeBella

by Toni DeBella

A Freelance writer and blogger at Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy.  She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.

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After the success of last year's edition - on the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee 2013-2014 and making the 750th  anniversary of the Eicharistic Miracle of Bolsena (1263) and Pope Urban IV's papal
bull Transiturus (1264), emanated from Orvieto and establishing the feast of Corpus Christi - the event THE CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI new appointment dedicated to spirituality are being planned, in scarpe nike outlet a unique and spell-binding setting that takes us back to the splendor of the great medieval festivities...


Two great events will take place with the splendid Cathedral as backdrop: the MEDIEVAL FESTIVAL with the LIVING CHESS GAME with figures in period costum between the cities of Marostica and Orvieto.
The Flag Throwers (Sbandieratori) of the Florentine Villages and Districts will participate in the festivities.

The MIRACLE PLAY "MIracle of piumini moncle  the Holy Corporal", a free adaptation of a 14th Century text, will be reenacted on the parvis of the Cathedral, a particularly evocative performance thanks to the modern visual and acoustic technologies employes...

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Today Orvieto is divided into four quarters (or districts). 
The main intersection, where via Duomo crosses Corso Cavour... is where the four quarters of the city meet.  During the middle ages, this was important because the four quarters engaged in a decades-long civil war between the Guelphs (supporters of the Holy Roman Empire) and the Ghibellines (supporters of the pope). The conflict decimated the population of the city.  The Ghibellines finally prevailed, and Umbria became one of the first Papal States. Fast-forward a few hundred years to 1527.
The Holy Roman Empire under Charles V sacks Rome and chases Pope Clement VII out of the Vatican. 


Pope Clement flees to Orvieto for refuge.  He fears the Emperor’s army will follow and lay siege to the city.  Since Orvieto sits high on a bluff, any siege would cut off the city’s water supply.  His solution:  dig a hole down to the water table, and create a well to help the city withstand a siege....


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The best way to understand the history of Orvieto, is starting from the ancient origin of the town…
And to better understand the reason for the presence of the caves under the surface of Orvieto, we should go back to the Etruscans who settled on the cliff around the 8th Century BC.
In fact, on the cliff the Etruscans found a natural stronghold that protected them from the enemy attacks, underground they found the way to collect the rainwater from the drainage of the houses to be conveyed to the tunnels.
You’ll be able to visit the oldest cistern discovered among the 440 underground tunnels discovered (but about 1.200  recorded!) in an area completely submerged by the water of the sea more then 2.000.000 years ago, before the beginning of the volcanic activity, which is derived from the eruption of the volcano of Bolsena, dating to 2-3 million years ago…

From the top of the 13th Century tower (47 meters high), the most representative public building of the medieval period, you will be able to see the best panoramic view of the town and over the vast territory subject to the city of Orvieto.



A few steps from the beautiful Cathedral of Orvieto, you will be able to visit this amazing laboratory of iconography orologi falsi di lusso and meet the artist, Fabrizio, a young man graduated in Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo. His works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in both Italy and foreign Countries.


The market comes to Orvieto on Thursday and Saturday mornings in the attractive Piazza del Popolo.  There’s something for everybody: vegetables, fruit, plants, and flowers, beans, nuts, and grains, fresh fish, lots of cured meats  and porchetta, cheese, a honey department and much more!
Plenty of time for a coffee break, too. You wouldn’t mind shopping at home if there is a bar like this on your way home...

For those who wish to couple tourism and good food, it is a unique occasion to learn about the civilization of olive oil and enjoy the typical delicacies, just in the center of Orvieto
Try with us a fine olive oil tasting quick and easy, or have a seat and take your time, to taste fine extra virgin olive oil and special D.O.P. top quality, in oil products and black and green olives. The owner will toast a few pieces of great Italian bread in front of you and drizzled olive oil and balsamic cream (not vinegar): so delicious!!


A few steps from the Cathedral, there is a local cantina with an amazing variety of wines, where you can have a nice wine tasting . A cozy ambience, simple and rustic, where you can taste Umbrian wines accompanied by  local cheeses and cured meats of our tradition.


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"Blessed" Mother Speranza

Mother Esperanza de Jesus Alhama Valera was born in Santomera (Murcia, Spain), on 30 September 1893.
On 15 October 1915, she became a nun in the monastery of the “Daughters of Calvary,” in Villena (Spain). This Congregation was incorporated into the “Claretian Missionaries” in 1920.
On Christmas Eve 1930, she left this institute to found, in Madrid, the Congregation of the Handmaids of Merciful Love.
On 15 August 1951, she founded the Congregation of the Sons of Merciful Love, in Rome.
She consecrated and dedicated her entire life to the Lord and to the mission of making Him known to all people as Father and gentle Mother.
After a life of commitment in the service of God, the priests and the neediest, she died in Collevalenza (Italy), on 8 February 1983.

On 23 April 2002, the Church, after proclaiming her heroic virtues, declared her venerable. The process of canonization is progressing.

The Sanctuary of Collevalenza is in the center of the Italian peninsula, very close to the town of Todi, in the region of Umbria. Many pilgrims every year come to visit the Sanctuary and the

Mother Esperanza’s Spiritual Testament can be assumed in one phrase: "All for Love"

Click here for more info

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Season of Artichoke!

How to Eat an Artichoke
One of the oldest-known foods, Artichokes have delighted and nourished people for several thousand years. Today, Artichokes are enjoyed in every corner of the globe...

Many people have never experienced the joy of eating an Artichoke because they never learned how to eat one. The good news is that eating an Artichoke is easy, and definitely something to be savored slowly and sumptuously.

Start by pulling off one of the outermost petals. Dip the base of the petal into your favorite sauce. Many people prefer melted butter or mayonnaise, but there is no limit to the types of dips or sauces that can be used.
Pull the petal through your slightly clenched teeth to remove the soft, tender flesh at the bottom of the petal. Discard remainder (you'll want to have an empty bowl ready in which to drop them).

Continue until all petals have been removed. You will now have arrived at one of the great culinary rewards: the Heart! If the fuzzy choke guarding the Heart hasn’t been removed, scoop it out with a spoon.

Cut the remaining Artichoke Heart into bite-sized pieces, dip and enjoy!

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All rights reserved - VAT IT016336330551
All rights reserved - VAT IT016336330551