Last year I was in Bologna on December 8th for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and all of the festivities that went along with it to kick off the Christmas season (read the post HERE). The following weekend I found myself in Orvieto, a small, medieval town in the part of Umbria that lies between Rome and Tuscany and sits on top of a dramatic plateau. I had already been there a few days, enjoying the Christmas decorations, Etruscan tombs and hiking trails, but had no idea what surprises the weekend would hold!
When I had visited Pozzo della Cava, an Etruscan well adapted in medieval times in the middle of town, they were in the middle of setting up a beautiful nativity deep down in the caves.
Lights were already strung between buildings, illuminating each via and strada.
Bows and stockings hung from balconies, garland and lights were decorating windows and doorways.
On Saturday night, I went to see a production of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” – in Italian. ”Canto di Natale” was being performed at Teatro Mancinelli, Orvieto’s historic and elegant theater.
I arrived that night and was surprised to find out that the play was not going to be performed on the stage – in fact, we never even entered the main room of the theater! – but instead in the elaborate and equally-beautiful side-rooms and galleries.
The interpretation was… interesting. The ghost of Christmas present was a man in a blue wig, tiara and purple tutu.
And for some reason he called up some kids from the audience who were dressed in 1950′s American costumes to join him in a round of “We Go Together” from “Grease”. Twice.
The Ghost of Christmas Future was a mime.
After the show I wandered over to the famous Duomo to gaze at it all lit up, after the sun had gone down.
Suddenly, a red & white Christmas train pulled up next to me in the piazza and a group of kids & their families hopped out. It turned around and headed back toward the main road. I followed.
Soon I heard a band… and they were playing – could it really be?! – the “YMCA”!?
I followed them as they finished that universally embarrassing tune and launched into “Rock Around the Clock”. We eventually wound up in Piazza della Repubblica where the very young and very old danced and laughed to a pitchy version of “Hello, Dolly”. A large tree was shining in the middle of the piazza and the whole town was milling about, laughing, eating and drinking.
I finally found the train’s other stop! It was loading up more kids (and their parents) and heading back toward the duomo.
Merry Christmas from Orvieto!
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