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On an afternoon stroll along the outer walls of Orvieto, Italy, it’s easy to forget that at one time, these walls were a protective defense against intruders.
The city, located in southwestern Umbria, Italy, commands a view of the valley from its hilltop perch. The cliffs, made of volcanic tuff rock, rise vertically from below, and they are a daunting challenge for raiders and marauders. But nowadays, there are tourists – most welcome in the city – and the walls that protected the city’s inhabitants from unfriendly advances now provide a walkway through which both tourists and residents can enjoy a most pleasurable and amiable walk.
In the morning, joggers and walkers take their exercise. In the middle of the day, many people rest from the heat in their homes, but a few are out and about. And in the evening, the children and their parents, the grandparents and the lovers, are out for a promenade.
The artwork, Along the Outer Wall, invites you to join them – walking fast or ambling slowly – and take in the vista that spreads out below: the lush trees and vegetation; the cultivated fields, vineyards, and groves of olive trees on the estates and farms. Because it is warm and springlike for so much of the year, colorful flowers festoon the walkway in pots along the wall or hangers from the light posts. And since the walkway is long and wide, you never feel as if you are in a crowd. When you meet someone coming the other way, you smile and say, “Buongiorno,” (Good morning) or “Buonasera,” (Good afternoon/evening), and you continue on your way.
Maybe later you’ll turn inward and head to the main street with its shops, but for now, it feels good to just be along the outer walls, taking in the view.
November 6th, 2023
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