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Off-duty, and oodles of luxury entertainment, in Orvieto, Umbria

Mary Gostelow - Duomo, Orvieto

Striped frock for Orvieto's striped (white travertine and green-black basalt) Duomo

A girl loves weddings and vintage cars – get’em both today in sun-filled hilltop Orvieto, Umbria, and life does not get much better.

The city, all 108 square miles of it, sits atop a table-shaped hill that rises dramatically (its sides are like cliffs) about 500 feet from the valley around.  Yes, I ran up the whole way, this morning before breakfast but that is showing off.

Later we joined countless Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) Americans and tourists from Hungary and even from elsewhere in Italy, exploring the narrow cobbled streets and gazing at the Duomo, which dates back to 1290 AD.

Orvieto Bridesmaid

Waiting for the bride

As we watched, the 20-foot high moulded metal doors of the West End of the fabulous cathedral opened.  A wedding was about to take place!  Sure enough, a boy and girl, about eight years old at most, came and most confidently and calmly stood in the doorway, facing the long nave to the main altar, clothed in distant darkness.

They stood for about 15 minutes before the bride arrived, with father and husband. They came from Hotel Virgilio, 100 yards away across the piazza, and as they went in her brother undid her train, which cascaded down her back just before the metal doors quietly closed again.

Orvieto Bride

The bridal party, with 'organiser', walked across from Hotel Virgilio

No problem, so much else to do in Orvieto. There are hundreds of little restaurants but nothing beats lunching in the terraced back garden of Bar Montanucci on Corso Cavour.

As you go in, you are greeted by a salad bar almost as good as the one at Hong Kong InterContinental’s Steak House winebar + grill – one of HOTELS magazine’s current Great Hotel Restaurants of the World – or that of another luxury hotel, Costa Esmeralda’s Hotel Cala di Volpe.

You tell the server, she serves you, someone quickly brings it outside to your table.  I had a bowl of greens, tomatoes and mozzarella; a bowl of raw artichoke slices and rocket, and a bowl of spinach ravioli with zucchini slices, just the perfect lunch for this girl. Here is a tip, get there early. As we left at 1.30, Mother Hubbard’s cupboard was bare…

Mary Gostelow and Fiat 1100/103 TV Spider (1955)

Fiat 1100/103 TV Spider (1955)

After that it was choose-your-icecream, yum yum, for the guys, at the historic Gelateria Pasqualetti, Piazza del Duomo 14. Then we strolled around and inspected the 60-year old Fiats lined up, in front of the Duomo, as part of a rally.  My favourite was a red soft-top Fiat 1100/103 TV Spider (1955). Every girl needs a Hollywood-type convertible.