Atlantis Alumni

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Orvieto in Umbria, Italy



The old fortress at Civitavecchia

The following are Orvieto












On Tuesday the Celebrity Equinox docked in Civitavecchia, an old port about an hour or so from Rome. Most of our fellow passengers who signed up for an excursion made their way into Rome. However, since we enjoyed a stay in Rome last year, we elected to take a somewhat longer excursion to the unique Umbrian hilltop town of Orvieto, about two hours away by motor coach. The weather for our trip was beautiful with clear skies and surprisingly cooler, less humid conditions. In Orvieto we met a local guide for a two hour tour of the town that culminated in a visit to the beautiful Gothic cathedral with its powerful frescos by Signorelli. The fa├žade of the Orvieto Cathedral is one of the most colorful and magnificent in all of Italy, full of sculpture, tracery and mosaics. In the Brixio Chapel the Renaissance artist Signorelli depicted the Last Judgement in several scenes. He started by depicting the anti-Christ preaching while being prompted by a devil who whispers in his ear. The anti-Christ in Signorelli’s fresco is actually a portrait of the fanatical monk Savonarola, who temporarily brought down the Medici power in Florence at the end of the Fifteenth Century. Having lived through that terrible time, Signorelli was lucky to receive a commission from the Duomo in Orvieto. Signorelli, a handsome young man in black, with long blond hair, included his self-portrait in the same fresco. In his other great frescoes in the Chapel he showed the dead rising from the earth, talking with each other or skeletons, also freshly awakened. Then there is a wall showing the blessed received into Paradise, and finally a scene of the damned descending into Hell. His painted versions of all these scenes include amazing nudes, in all sorts of foreshortened poses. Signorelli was a predecessor of Michelangelo, and there are many splendid faces, bodies and touches of humor in his great masterpiece at Orvieto. After seeing the Duomo we enjoyed walking around the town. Then, after, a three course lunch in a local restaurant, we returned by bus to our ship. The green scenery near Orvieto, studded with hilltops topped by Medieval and Renaissance villages, looked like stills from films or pictures from story-books. Today we will dock in Marseilles, where we will take a tour to the nearby towns of Arles and Le Beaux. Our stop in Southern France today will be the next to the last on our cruise. Tomorrow we will disembark in Barcelona.
Jim and Dan

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