One of the wonderful things about traveling “slow” is the serendipity that takes place. Traveling slow means you are not on a tight schedule and don’t have a mile long list of must-see sites. The result is that you bump into things, have time to explore whatever grabs your interest, are able to enjoy what happens unexpectedly.
As slow travel devotees, whenever we travel we have wonderful, unexpected, unplanned things add spice and enjoyment to our trips. This May we had two such events. The first was the Tour d”Italia. This is Italy’s big bicycle race, equivalent to the Tour de France. The tour came through Orvieto. Not just to the modern part of the city, but to the old part perched above the valley floor where we stay.
The race finished in Orvieto one day with a grand finish line, and then began in front of its Cathedral the next, winding through town on its way out to the country side. Each day leading up to the race’s arrival a little more decoration appeared in stores and along the race route. In Italy, the race leader wears a pink jersey – the maglia rosa. So the decorations that appeared were pink. It was great fun to see bicycles appear in display windows, a chocolate shop use brightly colored wrapped chocolates to do the Italian flag and spell out Tour d’Italia, manikins don pink jerseys. When we were in Ravenna a week later we saw the same unfold during our stay and preliminary to the Tour coming through there on its trip around the country.
The second event was the neighborhood celebration of Cava della Madonna church. This neighborhood church annually brings out their Madonna statue and parades her around the neighborhood in a big procession. The neighborhood gathers outside expectantly as a mass is
held inside the church. Then the Madonna emerges, goes down the steps where it is mounted on two supports. It is then hefted onto shoulders of men who carry the statue around the
neighborhood. Flags come out for the event, confetti is dropped and off the parade goes. Kids lead, a band plays, gendarmes travel alongside, and they stop periodically throughout the neighborhood for the priest to offer blessings. It is a wonderful slice of life that we were privileged to see.
On all our many trips to Italy, we have never failed to experience these little bits of serendipity. Whether a city-wide A Capella festival in Venice, a horse race in Sienna, or a medieval parade in Bevagna we have inevitably been surprised. It is great fun!
Kristi and Bill Steiner began leading “learning vacations” to Orvieto, Italy in 2003. Through Adventures in Italy they provide a cultural immersion experience. Many trips include the pursuit of some kind of creative work that complements and reinforces exploration of Italy’s culture. Relationships built over the years enable Kristi and Bill to provide experiences that a typical visitor to Orvieto never gets.
Learn more about Kristi and Bill’s trips. Stay abreast of Adventures in Italy developments, and follow Bill’s musings about travel and Italy on his blog Make Haste Slowly. View Bill’s photos of Italy, Orvieto, and other memorable places at steinerstudiophotos.com, and follow him on Instagram.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.