Don't Pigeon Hole Me!

The kids are here for this one week, but Fred's still working Monday through Thursday, so we'll entertain ourselves with day trips. On the agenda today is Orvieto, a hill town one hour's drive north. We've been several times, but we've never been to the underground tunnel tour. The next day will be Montefiascone, a closer town where we love a particular caffé and where we plan to camp out with our laptops. I'll be working and they'll do whatever. We drink cappuccino and soak in the Italian culture all around us. This bar has their version of MTV playing.

Orvieto. First stop was lunch. We drove the way I thought we always drive, following signs to the duomo and ending up getting dumped right onto the main piazza at the top of the town. Parking on the right. Best lot in the town. But we messed up and ended up a few blocks away. It didn't stop us from finding our favorite restaurant within ten minutes. Here we are sharing a half liter of vino bianco with our lunches. This is the first summer the boys have imbibed a bit. With us, that is.

This is the pretty amazing duomo of Orvieto. Like a wedding cake.

After lunch we went over to the underground tour. It was pretty cool. I guess this is the only shot I got. It's of the pigeon coop cave. They raised pigeons underground (those are their little individual holes—hence the term pigeon hole!) so if the city were to be under siege they would have food.

After this we went back to Viterbo to get ready for dinner, which was the Tuesday night artist talk and buffet dinner at the school. On the way, I got this shot of Monastero, the two-plate pizza place, and another of Fred, Henry and Owen.

The next day, Montefiascone, was a much less ordinary day—ironic, since Orvieto is the tourist-attracting town. NOT Montefiascone. But this is often the case with us.

Turns out it was a festival day here—La Festa di Santa Margherita. We made a note of this so we can come back next year at night and have dinner. We saw mostly preparations.

Tables set up in the lot where I usually park.

A visit to Montefiascone always involves a walk to the top, as does every visit to a hilltop town, for that matter—unless we can drive to it. This top is particularly cool because the view is of one of the area's biggest lakes—a volcanic lake called Bolsena. This lake represents the crater created by an old volcano. The sand around it on its beaches is black.

When we got to the top we looked down at what these people were looking at. A soapbox derby race! We had never come across one of these. Tires lined one side of the street, hay bales the other. Three cars at a time (all manned by teenagers, mostly boys, but at least one girl) took turns racing down the stretch of road, while all the townspeople cheered them on.

A priest and a couple of nuns were among the crowd.

We then walked a tiny bit further to the park at the very top on the other side.

Pokemon Go is everywhere!

On the way home, I FINALLY pulled over to take a picture of one of the most amazing things ever.

This pole with the vegetation at the top looks almost like some kind of flowery palm tree. It is, in fact, a pole, maybe a light pole, with a plant growing at the top. It has grown bigger and bigger every year. Finally, I got up close and knocked on the pole. It seems to be hollow. I've seen this type of plant before and it is vine-like. So my theory is it found its way inside the pole, worked its way to the top, to the light, and now flourishes there!

At home, we got ready for dinner at Il Giardino del Papero (the Garden of the Duck), our all-time favorite spot in Viterbo. Along the way, we ran into Fred's TA, Karen Sung and her boyfriend Sam, dining at Al Vecchio Orologio (the Old Clock).

And at The Duck, we ran into this couple on a date—Erin, our writing teacher and her husband Frank.

We always start with this fried vegetable thing that's like tempura. Insanely good.

And I often get this—steak under arugula and tomatoes.