Last blog I was complaining about my beloved Orvieto and this week, I’m afraid I’m going to be poking fun at it. I promise that I’ll spend the next 2 weeks finding something very positive to say or — as my mother tried in vain to teach me — I’ll say nothing at all.
Scala mobile means “moving staircase” – or an escalator.
The tops of hillside towns are the old, interesting part – the part you came to Italy to see — and since they were built centuries ago, the idea of accommodating cars wasn’t in their original design. Therefore, many towns have parking lots just outside or below the old center and transport you up via their scale mobili (plural). Spoletto and Perugia, for instance, have wonderfully convenient systems.
As you see from the masthead picture, Orvieto sits on its high plateau, and since parking is definitely at a premium, we have a very nice parking lot at the base of the wall.
As you leave the lot, you see right in front of you
steps leading to the the scale mobili. As you get closer, you see the sign on one escalator saying “scala fuori servizio”….
….meaning it’s out of order. People here swear that sign appeared the day after they took the wrappings off the system. Fortunately, it’s the down one. You glide up.
When you get to the top, you turn slightly left and there’s another escalator – much longer – and UNfortunately, that scala fuori servizio sign is on the UP stairs. You walk up the 38 steps that the builders had the incredible foresight to include next to the escalator.
You turn to the right and there in front of you is a less steep moving walkway (have not seen this word in Italian). AND, it works!
Then you come to 12 wide, shallow steps. It’s not that these are difficult, it’s just that they’re so unexpected when you were promised scale mobili. And they definitely do not move.
Next, you think you’ll have a reprieve with another working moving walkway, but at least last week, it was not working AND they hadn’t gotten around to warning you about it – perhaps because all their signs said scala fuori servizio and this was a non-functioning walkway. Or perhaps they just hoped we were smart enough to figure out for ourselves that there was no movement.
Then there’s a REALLY long escalator, up only — which is the only direction you care about because this will definitely be a long climb if ever the scala mobile is fuori servizio. For your return, you have to use the stairs, but at least that old friend, gravity, works with you, not against you.
And finally – the LAST escalator!!! You did it!!!! And it only took slightly less than 5 minutes.
Your prize for this adventure is that when you finally arrive at ground level, you exit into my piazza, which you might recall from my last blog, I said could — at best — be described as “charmless”.
….you could have read the signs more carefully when exiting the parking lot at the bottom and turned right to go to the ascensori, which means ELEVATORS.
No – they’re not nearly as easy to find because they’re tucked away in what looks very much like a cave, but time to the top: 10 seconds.
However, then you wouldn’t have an amusing Orvieto story to tell when you got home, and what fun would that be?!!