Three weeks ago today, Jhan and I left for Italy, where I am teaching three courses through the UA study abroad program. Our home base is the ancient walled city of Orvieto, which sits on top of 500-foot cliffs in southern Umbria. Orvieto is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen, with 360-degree views of the surrounding towns, farms, and hills. Everywhere you turn, there is a spectacular view to be had. The farmland below Orvieto includes vineyards and olive orchards. We have seen pears, figs, and peaches growing alongside the road on our many walks in Orvieto.
The city, which has a population of about 6000, has really charmed us with its cobblestone streets and beautiful stone buildings. We've tried to walk down every little street and alleyway in the city, exploring Orvieto to the last detail. Almost every day, we make a discovery--caves and wells, parks, sculptures, little shops that cater to the locals, hanging flower pots on medieval buildings, arched doorways, lush courtyards, tiny piazzas that are hardly bigger than a driveway, flocks of swallows flying over the cliffs at sunset, hazelnut and walnut trees dropping their fruit onto streets and walkways.
One of our favorite places in Orvieto is Pozzo della Cava, an ancient Etruscan cave that was converted into a well during medieval times and that is now one of the city's major attractions. Pozzo features a sunken terrace that has become my unofficial classroom. Fortunately, the family that runs the place has made us all feel very welcome. They bring my students food and drinks as we discuss course material, take time to show us some of the unique features of the place, and have introduced us to a few of the local delicacies. Jhan and I have sat with the regulars at the cafe and held conversations using our limited (but improving) Italian. The local folks we have met there have been very welcoming and have given us a unique perspective on life in Orvieto, Italian politics, food, culture, and religion.
The local organizers of the study abroad program in Orvieto have been extremely warm and generous to us. They were able to locate a guitar that we will be using when we start the Orvieto chapter of Global Chant, which could happen as early as next week. One of my students has actually been a GC regular in Tucson, which means that we are assured that at least three people will show up to chant when we meet for the first time. That was the size of our Tucson circle back in 2001. So, we know that we have enough people to get the ball rolling here. Even though we have not had an official circle here, Jhan and I chant at home, and we keep all of our GC family in our hearts and intentions as we do. We are eagerly awaiting the next time all of us are together again. In the meantime, I will continue to update you on life here in Orvieto. It took us a while to get a regular Internet connection established, but now that we have it, I will do my best to let you know how things are going for us. We always welcome hearing your news, if you would like to drop either of us a line.
In Love & Joy,