One of the attributes of the many medieval hamlets of Umbria and Tuscany that I especially love are the old traditions that have been passionately maintained over the centuries. On a visit to Monteleone d’Orvieto, nestled on a hilltop in the heartland of the Umbrian countryside, I was extremely impressed by historically clad villagers who welcomed us at the main gate. They embody a fierce pride in their heritage, one that you cannot help but deeply respect.
Located only 34 minutes from Orvieto, Monteleone d’Orvieto is one of the tidiest little villages I have yet had the pleasure of walking. Founded in 1052 by the commune of Orvieto as a castle to guard the northern boundaries, there is still evidence of the ancient fortified walls and gateways that surrounded the village.
These young ladies were more than happy to pose for a photo. Those who live here are very sweet and a pleasure to converse with. These young girls knew some English, so it was a bit easier than attempting to communicate with the older residents.
We walked many a winding street just like this one. Evidence of the local village pride was everywhere as all was freshly swept and clean.
Late afternoon is the time to stroll about and visit with the villagers. Although this man spoke no English, he was easy to communicate with using some of my very limited Italian and of course hand gestures.
Potted plants around wooden doorways with neatly maintained thresholds are common in Monteleone d’Orvieto.
Little Fiats like this one are the only way to go if you intend to drive through the winding narrow streets. Even so, there are moments when you may have only a couple of inches on each side of the car to pass on through. Many that I have seen include an opening at the top to expand upward since outward is very limited.
Behind is part of the panoramic view of the Umbrian, Tuscan and Lazio countryside which encompasses the great expanse beyond the village walls.
On Piazza Pietro Bilancini stands La Torre dell’Orologio, the clock tower. It was designed and built in 1800 with bricks manufactured in local furnaces. A bas-relief designed with brick, representing the emblem of Monteleone, is just below the clock face.
The ladies of Monteleone d’Orvieto are charming. Neatly dressed, these three enjoy a late afternoon break from cooking and housecleaning. They present themselves just as they keep their tidy little village…well maintained.
This is the south gate of the village that is part of the original castle. Although the north gate is the main entrance, some traffic comes through this one as well. Above the gate you can see a small shrine of the virgin Mary.
I spent only an afternoon in Monteleone d’Orvieto, but it has remained with me as a very special experience. This village, although small and not touristy, is a delight to visit. My heart was touched by the dignity, honor and self-regard that these villagers hold and exemplify for their home and tradition.