Day 9 - Orvieto and the Rainbow Family
Starting point: Florence
Distance: ca 350 km
The breakfast at Siena was minimalistic, and that's the best word I can find to describe it. I had no morning coffee to wake me up, only tap water. Since the hike La Turbie, my feet were wounded, and I had trouble healing them because of my heavy biker boots and a lot of walking during the past two days. No one was around to talk to, the host was not available during my entire stay. The day before I saw a couple staying next door. However, they were not eager to have a conversation. From the previous day, I knew what I could expect and, therefore, I just packed my clothes and left the place earlier then usual. I decided to look for a cafeteria in Siena, the central town of Toscana. As usual, I took a biker way of city sightseeing, meaning from the saddle :). I was driving towards Siena's old center when a taxi driver stopped next to shortly explain that the road, I was on was a Dead End Road. I was just about to make a u-turn, when I had a spark. "If the taxi could enter the old town, I could enter too", I thought. Maybe it was not completely allowed, but driving, not walking, through the city, could save an hour at least. I prepared an explanation, just in case I was stopped by the Traffic Police. I drove through most of the "available" narrow cobblestone roads, created mental pictures of the the most iconic buildings, recalled historical details about the places, and after about half an hour I was "done" with the city. The rest of the day, I could spent riding around Toscana. That gave me the real satisfaction of seeing what is typically not described in Tourist Guide Books. The region, with relatively low mountains, was mostly rural and uninhabited, covered by expanses of blooming sunflowers, and cereal, already after the harvest, ready to be collected. I drove inland along the SR2, which led me to Bolzena, the city on a lake with the same name, and from the south-west I entered Umbria, the green heart and a unique Italian region that borders neither the sea nor another county. At around 6 pm, I arrived to a marvelous Medieval Town located high on the cliffs, Orvieto.
The GPS let me to the old town center and I was sure that something was wrong. As soon as I reached a place, I checked the address of my next destination again. I had not noticed a message sent by my next host with information that the GPS is usually pointing to the wrong location (ow, really?!), and I should follow the description given by him. I wasn't even astounded anymore. It was not the first time when a person, a host, was providing me with wrong coordinates. Me, as a person with technical background, felt defeated. After all, it is me who needs a place to stay and so I had to understand and without anger or frustration check things the old fashioned way. I pulled out a printed map, and started studying it. In the meantime, I received a message that my host "was baking bio-wholemeal sour dough bread in a wood oven", and he would be delivering it. And so he was not available, but instead of me, going to the house alone, we could drive together after he was finished with his work. I was a bit amused but also admired his pride of his self-made bread. And that reminded me of my "previous" life I had before I moved to Switzerland. As a newcomer foreign student with a very low budget, I had to survive in a relatively expensive country, such as Finland. I evoked all friends I made there, and grinned to myself, because we all went through a stage, were we were making home-made bread.
I spent an hour on perambulating around the main square, and visiting the marvelous XIII c. Cathedral, which is considered as one of the most beautiful Churches in Umbrian and, in fact, in all of Italy.
Around 8:00 pm, my host was ready with his job and waited for me at the entrance of a train station. Upon my arrival, his friend asked me if it was fine with me to join them for beer. I gladly accepted the offer, although I took something non-alcoholic. My host, Andrea, seemed to be more interested in the News Broadcast rather then his guest, and soon, I was about to find out why. The news was showing videos from the Munich Shootings at the Olympia Shopping mall. Andrea's girlfriend, had left for Munich to visit her family that day, and he was obviously very worried, waiting for a message from her. After a few phone call attempts, he managed to reach her and we all could have a conversation about another topic, namely, how to arrive at Andrea's place.
It happened that it was not an easy task. He did not live in Orvieto, but 8 km further away, with a 1.5 km sandy-rocky off road. Andrea and his friend looked at me, my Harley, and started to wonder, if I could manage and eventually drive on that, off-road. I completely rejected a proposition to leave the motorcycle at the end of an asphalt road, and I announced that I was going to drive till Andrea's place, even if I would have to push the Harley. Indeed, the path was not easy. 15 cm deep white dust, mixed with sand and clay, sedimentary rock, specially on the curves made me sweat. There is a certain speed required to drive on such roads. Driving too slow makes the motorcycle unstable. Too fast and it will skid off the road. My host, in his 40 year old Fiat, was driving just a few meters ahead of me, creating a huge cloud of white dust that made the road almost invisible. A few minutes later, we reached the house. I was covered completely with the white powder. My black shoes, black Harley, and my black jacket, suddenly became grey. But I did not care much about it. I grinned with visible pride, specially after Andrea and his visiting friend looked at me with noticeable surprise.
I uncoupled my bags from the motorcycle, went to my room, refreshed myself, and joined the table for an evening chat. Andrea was a member of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a.k.a. the Rainbow Family, who regularly attended the Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes. The Family, inspired by the first Woodstock Festival, had a stated goal of trying to achieve peace and love with a strong orientation towards taking care of the Earth. Upon hearing these principles, I understood Andrea's way of living, and his respect towards physical work, home made products, and all that was given by the Earth. He tried to live in a full symbiosis with Nature, and he was kindly asking visitors, if possible, to do the same. Andrea showed me some old documents from the Rainbow Gathering held in Poland in '91, two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The papers were very well preserved, and had old-fashioned machine typing and hand drawings.
I kind of enjoyed the place. Nothing luxurious, but simple, made in a spirit of the 70's, but without free love, drugs and people randomly passing by. What was in my mind from the movies about Jennis Japlin, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison.
In order to get a feeling of what the Rainbow Gathering is, I added a link with photos to an article: here.
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