Monday, January 13, 2014

Orvieto's Underground, Italy

Sean was very interested in seeing the caves that cover the underground of Orvieto. Since the small town is built on a large hill, there is not a lot of space... so people began digging/building underground. Every house... EVERY HOUSE in Orvieto has its own cave! Amazing. The caves used to be used primarily for storing wine... and working... basically people's offices. We even saw an olive oil making station in one of the caves!

The Orvieto Underground tour took us into two large caves... they are the only two caves (out of about 2,500 total!) that are open to the public today. All of the other caves privately belong to the people of the town.

The second cave that we saw had been used to house pigeons. The pigeons lived in the holes built into the wall of the cave, shown below. Pigeons could take care of themselves... coming and going as they pleased... and were much cheaper than chickens. Because of this, a traditional dish in Orvieto is... yes... piccione... or, pigeon. Sure enough... piccione was on the restaurant's menu that night... and Sean ate an entire bird for dinner. Well done Sean, well done.

We were lucky enough to see our apartment's landlord's cave! We had just returned from the tour and ran into her. When she heard that we went on the tour and enjoyed it... I asked her if her family had a cave under the building... and she invited us to see it. Amazing. Today, the cave is used for storage.

It used to connect to the house but now the stairway has been filled in.

Funny moment: Dad and Sean were talking with the landlord's husband and the man gave Dad a nice bottle of wine. He explained that the wine is his Sunday-drinking-wine while he goes hunting. Dad asked him what he hunts... the man reached into a large freezer that is in the cave... and pulled out a WHOLE, FROZEN PHEASANT. No joke.

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