“Orvieto” from “Magica Etruria”

ORVIETO (excerpt from Magica Etruria, Orvieto and Perugia, Nuova Immagine Editrice, Siena, 2014, reprint of Magica Etruria, Bizzarri and Curri, 1968) 

(After visiting the necropolis of Crocifisso del Tufo, Mario Bizzarri approaches the question of what the Etruscans of Orvieto were physically like. But first, he says, pay a visit to the museums in the city)

Look at the stupendous head of an old man from the Belvedere, the one who is fingering his beard, and appreciate above all the life in that portrait, the hard polemic glance, the lips swelling with resentment, parted to reveal his teeth.

Look at the lovely face, anything but commonplace, of the female demon in the Faina collection or the unapproachable and haughty expression (he might however be simply bored and indifferent with regards to earthly life) of the man reclining on the sarcophagus from Pietra Campana. Wander through the rooms looking for precise types and then leave and wander through the city. That’s what the Etruscans looked like – like the Orvietani of today, the women haggling over prices in the shade of the Palazzo del Popolo, the “roast pig vender” at the corner of the street, the farmer setting up his produce stand on market day, the old men sunning themselves on the bench across from the cathedral …

One could continue wandering endlessly along the dense network of lanes and alleys of the town and the eye and the spirit would continue encountering something new at every turn.  But if you’re still at the Etruscan tombs at the end of the day when the last rays of the sun set fire to the hills to the west, then you will feel the first intimation of the coming night as the violet shadows gather in the corners of the necropolis, inviting you to leave. When dusk falls the activities of the day come to a close, both here and in the city of the living. Every door is shut and only the visitor continues to wander through the deserted streets. Let us turn our tired steps (a weariness of the soul) towards the row of black cypresses that marks the boundary between the two worlds.

A bit further on is the asphalt road where each of us, having left the enchantment of the world of yesterday, will take up the underlying thread of that frenetic adventure that after all (not truly realized until now) is the unchangeable, eternally renewable human adventure.

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