Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, Mecca. All mystical and sacred places where one can find peace in their solitude and beauty. Add the Anello della Rupe (Ring of the rock/cliff/outcropping) to the list: a walking-trail that runs around the volcanic rock on which the town of Orvieto is perched. It’s only a few meters below the city center, yet it’s a world away.
percorso (trail) is about an hour trek (depending on whether you run, walk or crawl) that circumnavigates the town, located midway down its steep cliffs.
There are 5 ingressi (entrances) into the park. Ingresso 1: Madonna del Velo, one of the few examples of ecclesiastic architecture in Orvieto; Ingresso 2: Porta Vivaria, the remains of the medieval north gate; Ingresso 3: Porta Soliana, the medieval eastern entrance to the city; Ingresso 4: Palazzo Crispo Marsciano, designed and built during the Renaissance; and Ingresso 5: Foro Boario, near the medieval aqueduct used as early as the 13th Century.
All along the “ring” the trail is lined with rustic wooden fences. Look up and see the many grottoes cut into the cliffs. Gaze over the walls at the classic postcard view of the Umbrian countryside. Note the countless treasures…the remains of the Etruscan sanctuary of Cannicella dating back to the 4th-6th centuries B.C., the Grotto of the Fossil Trunks, an artificial cavity with Paleo-botanical remains that precede the formation of the cliff about 350,000 years ago, and the archaeological pride of Umbria, the Estrucan Tombs of Volsinii in existence since the 5th-6th centuries B.C. But my favorite is Chiesa del Crocefisso del Tufo (pictured left), a lovely little chapel set into the tufa with its crucifix carved into the rock.
Even in the dead of winter there is a lot of life down here. Sometimes I walk with friends, sometimes I go it alone.
La Rupe is like a friend and confidant. She listens without interruption and everything seems simpler when you are with her. It’s a transforming experience – an hour that is entirely yours to reflect, plan or just daydream. You could say it’s like taking a meeting with God – or something God-like. La Rupe can become your friend too, but you will have to take the first step. Buona passeggiata a tutti!
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Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy. She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes.