On July 14, we piled into our two big tour buses to make our way north from Rome to Florence, which is our next scheduled concert stop. Our tour guides had scheduled a lunch stop for us at Orvieto, which is a small hill town about half way along in our journey.
Big buses can’t enter the town, which you access via either the furnicular (which was out of order) or smaller city buses. Atop the hill, the little village spreads out from a central piazza dominated by a highly ornamented church (Duomo) that was built there after a miracle occurred during a mass celebration nearby. Apparently there had been some question about the bread for the mass not actually being the body of Christ, yet when the priest broke the bread, blood rand down his arms (the blood of Christ, one assumes) and dropped onto the altar cloth. In the Cappella del Corporal (a side chapel off the main sanctuary) the reliquary containing the cloth, with the two drops of blood still visible, sits encased in glass, displayed over the altar.
After a delicious lunch, about which Mike has already blogged, at the Trattoria del Etrusca, the church doors opened for a wedding and we were all able to get inside. The outside is spectacular enough to hold your attention, however, since the entire front façade of the building is covered in bright mosaics depicting various scenes of the life of Christ. Inside, the space is cool and, again, highly decorated.
Here’s a rather blurry image of our impromptu concert of a few motets, taken before Mike figured out how to do the low light clear picture maneuver on his new camera. I apologize for the blur, but at least you’ll get an idea of what it looks like inside.
Our tour guides were able to persuade the priest to allow us to sing a couple of motets in the space; the acoustics at the Duomo at Orvieta are even more perfectly suited for Renaissance music than St. Peter’s, because of Orvieto’s more intimate size. The sound of Ubi Caritas and Sicut Cervus done impromptu there is something none of us will forget.