My Uncharted Heart

If you looked at a map of my heart, it would look like Orvieto, my home for one glorious summer. Though I’ve been writing about my travels on this blog for two years now, I have never actually written about my perfect home away from home. I wish I could put Orvieto and its adorable charm in a snow globe and keep it just as I remember it forever. This tiny town awakened me and molded me into a free sprit always in search of my next travel adventure. I wish I could take you there, you wonderful reader of this blog. If I could take you there, I’d map out my entire heart for you to see. I’d provide the layout and the landmarks that now cover my previously uncharted heart.

You would arrive at the train station. It’s comfortably small, and has amenities like a little market where you can purchase a cappuccino and some paprika flavored Pringles (they seriously need to bring those to the states by the way). You’d walk across the street to the funicular and ride the red cable car up, up, up to the top of the plateau.


Now you’re truly in Orvieto. To your left is a beautiful public garden, and ahead of you is everything else- every local face you’ll become familiar with, every pizza you’ll eat, and every cobblestone you’ll step over. At the edge of the town you start walking, realizing the plateau is not entirely flat and you’re walking uphill. Turning to your right, you find the Chinese restaurant. You’re an American, at a Chinese restaurant, in Italy, and you realize it’s one of the most cross-cultural experiences of your life.


You continue marching up Corso Cavour the main artery of Orvieto. To your right, and around the convent, is where you live, in an apartment with three other girls. On your porch is Cynthia, the gray neighborhood cat you named. There are cats everywhere, contributing to the incredibly clean streets, but Cynthia becomes your favorite. You get back on the main road and keep going, in the same direction you have been.

Just as you start to get a little tired, you look to your left and find Café del Corso. You get a cappuccino there every morning, and most days some gelato too, but your day is not over, it actually just started and you’re running late for class.

After finishing your cappuccino you wave and say, “Grazie” to the baristas and carry on, walking, walking, walking. You pass the kebab place on your right. You’ll probably go there later for lunch at least once this week.

As you carry on, you finally reach the intersection of Corso Cavour and Via del Duomo. You have to turn right and pass the beautiful Torre del Moro clock tower, and when you arrive to the Palazzo del Popolo, you’ve finally reached your school. It’s in the same plaza where a large projector is set up whenever there is a soccer game being aired on television. Had you gone straight you’d reach the cinema, where you first saw Jurassic World, convinced it would be in English because it was an American movie, but soon discovered that no, it was in fact fully in Italian and had no subtitles.


When your courses have finished for the day you backtrack past the clock tower and when you reach the intersection you continue straight. You want to see the cathedral, especially as the sun is setting. You walk past countless gelato shops, delis, jewelry stores and clothing stores until suddenly it’s there, the largest and most incredible building you’ve ever seen. Its beauty is so staggering it almost hurts to look at it. It’s my heart, the Duomo di Orvieto. You could sit in front of it and stare for hours, each glance uncovering more and more details in the gorgeous art. You see birds flying high around it, finding their homes in its ancient walls. You watch tourists come by having the same immediate reaction to its beauty that you still have every time you see it. This is where you sit and drink a glass of wine. This is where your heart is full. This is where you left your heart when you traveled back home.


3 thoughts on “My Uncharted Heart

  1. Mariah,

    I loved the way you wrote this piece, like a guide to help the reader find their way around. The photo of the sunlight is beautiful! Your description of Orvieto is almost exactly the type of place I dream of living, even if only a short while. I want to find a place similar in the states. You also made me very hungry lol. Everything sounds divine. I wish I would have sought out opportunities to study abroad, but I was too chicken! I felt like I would have abandoned my family when they needed me. Heck, I was too chicken to even go up to NAU – part of the reason I am finally a Jack at least online.

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  2. Hi Mariah,

    Thanks for inviting us along for a day in Orvieto. I like the snow globe reference – you’ve encapsulated the picturesque scenery. Switching from first to second person after the first paragraph pulled me into the narrative and put me in your shoes. The well placed pictures within the text also created the sensation of motion and turned the post into a leisurely stroll around town.

    I was lucky enough to pass through Orvieto on a drive from Rome to Lucca (My wife’s grandmother was born in Lucca). I remember lunching in Orvieto and sipping on a sweet white Malvasia before driving on to Montepulciano and sampling a few red wines.


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  3. Hi Mariah,
    Striking opening image and title! The combination of the cropping, the light, and subject matter, Duomo di Orvieto, creates a great focal point for your uncharted heart. Through the following images and story I can see and hear how you got to that point in your day and enjoyed following and hearing about what left a mark on your heart. Sometimes I was wishing to hear more about your heart, but you did get to that in your conclusion. Adding sources would change the feel of your narrative, so I am guessing that is why you did not include them.

    Someday I hope to sit with you for hours, in spirit, to witness Duomo di Orvieto.
    Eve (visiting from Eng 622)

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