30th April – 1st May 2014
Hill top towns, Assisi, Spello, Todi and Orvieto.
After sleeping the night in our quiet field/carpark at Lucignano we drove the 90 kilometres to Assisi and parked in a bus/motorhome park at the bottom of the hill arriving at lunch time. Fed and watered we climbed the long steep hill to the gates of Assisi and could still see that we had plenty more climbing ahead of us. Zigging and zagging through the narrow streets we finally made it to the town highest place, then from here it was all downhill. We walked around the outskirts of town and saw an interesting housing area built within an amphitheatre shaped structure. With the view of the Fort Maggiore in the foreground we could see the thunderclouds in the background threatening. We were unprepared for rain, e.g. no raincoats or umbrella’s so we made a quick decision to descend from the mountain and arrived at the motorhome just in time before the rain started pouring down. We drove on to Spello about 12 kms down the road and found a pleasant carpark/motorhome stop which was at the base of the hilltop town. Settling in for the night the clouds rolled in, the heavens opened and the rain pattered on the roof most of the night.
The morning arrived and the rain cleared so we put on our walking shoes and headed into the town. It was still quite early and there were few tourists or locals walking about. We stopped to visit the church and then for coffee and watched as the town became busier. Bustling now with mostly local tourists we wandered up to the scenic lookout and back through the winding streets eventually finding our way through an old town gate that led down to the road where we had parked. We enjoyed Spello, a quieter town decorated with flowers and pot plants that lined interesting small streets and no hustle bustle that we have found elsewhere.
We continued on after lunch making our way down through the valley towards Terni and the waterfall that is its main attraction. What we hadn’t accounted for was that May 1st is an Italian public holiday and when we arrived the car parks and roadsides were overflowing with Italian cars. We did a drive by an caught a glimpse of the water spilling over the edge, drove up through the valley until it became obvious that we would have trouble finding a park within walking distance then decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle. The next place we had thought to visit was Narni, another hill top town which was having the same problem as the waterfall. We took a road into the carpark and found it full to overflowing with cars parked at all angles and traffic crawling along trying to get out of the congestion. We thought we may have been stuck there but after about 30 mins we were able to get back out of the carpark and on to the road that led back down the hill.
After a short drive we managed to find a quiet place to stop for the night in a large carpark in the town of Aqua Sparta.
On to Todi the next morning, where we drove up the steepest incline we have encountered, 18 degrees. We crawled up barely passing the cyclist on the side of the road and found the carpark where we able to park next to the funicular that transports people up to the town. Here we found some interesting knitting covering the trees and lamp posts, the owls were so cute we had to take a photo. We wandered around a bit before deciding to shelter in a restaurant for a Pizza lunch. We spend a pleasant couple of hours enjoying the atmosphere and our food and almost had to drag ourselves back outside where it was lightly raining. We had a stop to visit another Church and then back down the funicular to the motorhome where we made the decision to move on as the noise from the funicular had become loud and screechy.
Driving on through the countryside we headed for a lakeside camperstop that happened to be closed when we got there. Noticing other campers parked by the lake we made the decision to take the narrow track and find a spot that we could stay for the night. Missing the turn off where the others had turned we had no choice but to venture on and we came to the end of the road where three abandoned dwellings were situated. It looked like a likely spot for a quiet night and so we parked next to one of the abandoned building with views of the lake from our window. That night the heavens really opened up and the road became a river, safe and snug inside our cosy home on wheels we settled in to watch a movie by Woody Allen, “To Rome with Love”.
Waking very early to the sound of car being parked nearby to go fishing we thought it prudent to leave while we could get out. We didn’t want to get trapped by other cars as the road was narrow.
We arrived early at Orvieto, parked in a very busy motorhome parking place and bought a “Key to the city pass” which also gave us the advantage of taking the funicular up the steep slope to the top of the hill. The weather looked like it could be unpleasant so this was a good decision and it enabled us to visit a lot of the attractions of the town with the option to shelter there if the weather turned bad. The hill top town was very interesting, being a plateau formed by erosion of the surrounding area that left a table top shaped hill that was easily defended. The Cathedral was amazing with brightly coloured frescoes and intricate mosaics. We then took the underground cavern tour that showed us the underside of the town, where they kept pigeons for food and became a shelter during World War 2. There was time to wander around several museums that showcased the history of the Etruscans in the area and to visit a well and climb up a tower for a great view; this gave us an insight into the life of the ancient town. We enjoyed an obligatory gelato as the town was having a “taste of Gelato”, festival before heading back to the motorhome.