Day 36: Todi to Orvieto

Distance: 40.6 km

Time: 2 hours 23 minutes

Average speed: 17.1 kph

Cumulative distance: 1835.01 km

Cumulative time: 91 hours 22 minutes

Word of the day: ‘galleria‘ (gal-air-ee-ah) – tunnel

When we reserved a table at Ristorante Cavour they warned us that the terrace, which offers a fine view over the countryside surrounding Todi, would be closed because of the rain. When we arrived, though, they had clearly had a change of heart, and we were able to enjoy the sunset, and watch scores of swifts swooping around catching insects. We had some food and wine too, naturally.

The descent from Todi this morning, in bright sunshine, was steep and cobbled to start with, so we took it very slowly. It then continued on a rough surface for a few kilometres, requiring careful steering to avoid the many potholes. When able to look up, though, the bucolic surroundings were well worth the effort.

Soon enough we merged onto the main road to Orvieto. We’d checked this road carefully, as it is classified as a strada statale, a category we’d normally avoid as being too busy. On Google StreetView, though, it looked empty, and so it proved today. The road follows the Tiber through a steep-sided valley, forming the Parco Fluviale del Tevere, and the surroundings are idyllic – afforested hillsides sloping steeply down towards the green-brown river. The road was rolling, rather than flat, and we enjoyed that too – occasionally we went through a short tunnel, but the tunnels had windows in one side, so we had no particular need of our front light.

A gasp of delight from the rear motive unit alerted me to the fact that the river had opened out into a large lake.

In fact it turned out to be a reservoir called Lago Corbara, but no matter, it was a spectacular companion to our journey for several kilometres. When we reached the dam we dropped down to the valley and crossed the Tiber just as it emerged from the dam – it was very attractive at this point and clearly carrying less silt – the water was much clearer.

Most of our remaining journey was on a very minor road, which meandered around the contours of the hillside, sometimes climbing quite sharply. It was very quiet, sufficiently so that the Stoker experimented with the camera.

With only ten or so kilometres to go we caught our first sight of Orvieto, sitting atop cliffs of volcanic tuff. They may be hard work at the end of the day, these hilltop towns, but every one has been worth the effort.

We lunched in Orvieto Scalo, at the base of the climb. Nothing too large, as we knew we had some hard work ahead. As it happened, though, this climb turned out to be the easiest of those we’ve tackled in recent days. It was long, certainly, and there were no flat sections, but it continued at about five percent for the duration, and before too long we were entering the outskirts of Orvieto. We cycled past the Duomo, with its spectacular mosaic façade then, weaving our way carefully through the crowds of visitors, located our hotel.

After showering we had an initial wander around the streets. The architecture has changed dramatically since Todi, mainly through the use of volcanic building materials, which lend a darker appearance to the buildings.

We’re staying here for two nights, so no post tomorrow. Thereafter we have to navigate our way, over three nights, to Rome, where Joshua is flying in to meet us with some much needed fresh clothes!

Here’s today’s track.