|Rising early Thursday 12th March we were greeted by a cloudless sky and a glorious scene below us. Breakfast was prepared in the Tuscany way with bitter coffee and sweet croissant’s filled with fruity goo. Very different! Sabrina, our landlady, who had been a great help in many ways, saw us out with her 4 year old daughter. We packed out bags in the car and then went to do the exploring which the rain had stopped the previous night.
Orvieto is a wonderfully complicated medievel city with high, four and five storey buildings, religious icons, bell towers, high walls and narrow alleys fizzing with crazy drivers. Our main objective was the Duomo (Cathedral) with its highly ornate frontage and black and white marble construction arranged in stripes. Several steps spanning the width of the front lead to three immense bronze doors each showing biblical representation by a modern artist in a very contemporary style. Flanking these are four carved marble panels 20 feet high showing scenes from the bible. The rest of the front is white marble with immense mosaic pictures with many of the characters 30 to 40 feet high. The inside is huge with the full excesses of an Italian church but worthy of mention is the organ which is not too far short of the Albert Hall’s but is cantilevered out from the wall!!
Leaving Orvieto late morning we were soon on the Autostrada heading south. Our destination was Paestum a place we visited last October but felt the tour had not given it enough time. The journey was uneventful, taking snacks at various service stations, which we both felt were clean, tidy, and the food reasonably priced. We left the Autostrada at Salerno, which proved too much of an enigma for Norah as the fact that there were three exits off the slip road and she lost signal three road levels below the Autostrada. After loosing ourselves she eventually got us onto the coast road heading towards Paestum rather than the main road. What a disaster! The road looked as though the eighth army had passed though again with derelict buildings, potholes the size of sherman tanks and desolation all around. What was even worse was the beach had been turned into a rubbish tip ten feet high by about six miles long. Judy had a fit of the ‘get me out of here’s’. It was even worse after the rubbish when lines of young ladies in red offered passing cars some relaxation before returning home. Eventually we reached the outskirts of Paestum which is a very pleasant small village tending to live off the wonderful local sites and museums. We were lucky to hit on a very nice hotel run by a fabulous Italian couple, Rosa and Pasquali, with Juliano the chef and the maid. The price was very reasonable and included full board (too much to eat). We can thoroughly recommend Zi Carmela hotel in Paestum. After our meal the six of us chatted for hours as there were no other guests, they are missing the Americans.