When most people think of Italy, they immediately think of Rome. They picture the Trevi Fountain, Coliseum and probably, The Lizzie McQuire Movie. Although Rome is “cool” and all, authentic Italy is found in the medieval villages scattered throughout the mountains. (You know a town is medieval if it is surrounded by a stone wall.) One of these unique and beautiful towns is Orvieto.

After our first exam, four of my fellow classmates and I jumped on a bus that took us down the mountain from Cortona to Camucia. None of us had even heard of or been to Orvieto before; one of my classmates just came across it while looking for places before our study abroad. So we blindly, and with the little Italian we had gathered from our week in Italy, jumped on a train.

Once we got off the stop, we realized we had no idea what we were doing. None of us knew how to get to the city, so we took a chance and jumped on a tram that went up the side of the mountain. (If it wasn’t the right way, at least there was probably a pretty view, and we could find the city.) Thankfully, we made the right decision. As we stepped off the train, we stood in front of a beautiful tree-lined street that transported us to my favorite city in Italy.

What is beautiful about Orvieto is first and foremost, it’s not super touristy. The people don’t really speak English, and the town is quiet except for the locals taking their strolls with their dogs and the sound of music or television from a window. It’s like any other town you would picture in your head. However, there is something that stands out. It seems out of place amongst the two-story houses and narrow streets… a Duomo.

There are probably millions of Duomos in Italy. All are beautiful but pale in comparison to Duomo di Orvieto. The gold mosaics and intricate details in the marble leaves your mind and eyes boggled for hours. Then, as the sun sets, the rays give the Duomo new life as the gold sparkles. What made my experience with the Duomo so surreal was a gentleman, who played classical piano music on a grand piano outside. I felt like I was in a 50’s romance movie (sadly the hot guy was missing!).

Orvieto is a hidden gem in Italy. It is a place to slow down and admire the opportunity we are presented when we study abroad. The Duomo reminded me of that. For centuries, people I have never met, or ever will meet, have come there. Stood where I stood. Admired this Duomo and ate pasta and drank a local wine. The city is a place that dates back to the times of the Etruscans- with caves you can still visit today-and has experienced and seen so much that my mind cannot wrap around it. And you leave apart of that story that is continually being told through the sparkles of the Duomo.