The 15 Best Things to See in Orvieto

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Alejandra Rangel
@alejandrarangel
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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If you are planning a trip to the beautiful - and fascinating Umbria, you cannot fail to consider visiting Orvieto, village of ancient origins located in the province of Terni and, if the time at your disposal does not allow you more, it can also be visited in just one day (although I advise you to dedicate at least two!)

I had a wonderful memory of Orvieto, although I had only been there once as a child with my parents. Honestly, I remembered very little, and was surprised by the number of things to see in Orvieto.



With its long history dating back to the Etruscans and the perfect setting on top of a high cliff, Orvieto is in fact a destination not to be missed when organizing a road trip in Umbria.

This town is home to just over 20.000 inhabitants and stands on the top of a tufaceous cliff and only for this feature you can easily imagine how the landscape that this splendid town presents is particularly suggestive.

One of the most beautiful things I've seen in life is the Orvieto Cathedral. Inside (but also outside) it is a treasure chest.

If you are interested in knowing him in depth, here you will find a guided tour that also includes the Pozzo della Cava (for me much better than underground Orvieto, I'll tell you about it later)

According to some research, it seems that man settled in this city even from the Paleolithic era: if you are looking for a bit of history and traditions, this is definitely the right place.

  • How to get to Orvieto and preliminary information
  • 1 - The Cathedral
  • 2 - The Chapel of San Brizio
  • 3 - The Chapel of the Corporal
  • 4 - The Museum of the Opera del Duomo
  • 5 - St. Patrick's Well
  • 6 - The medieval quarter
  • 7 - Orvieto underground
  • 8 - The Fortress of Albornoz and Porta Rocca
  • 9 - The Torre del Moro
  • 10 - Piazza del Popolo
  • 11 - Well of the Cava
  • 12 - Archaeological Museum and Claudio Faina Museum
  • 13 - Republic Square
  • 14 - Church of San Giovenale
  • 15 - Take a tour of Civita di Bagnoregio
  • Where to sleep in Orvieto
  • Where to eat in Orvieto

How to get to Orvieto and preliminary information

On the train

Orvieto is easily accessible by train from either Firenze (about 2,5 hours of travel each way) that from Rome (about 1,5 hours each way) and it's an easy day trip from either city.



You can check the updated timetables from Rome to Orvieto and ticket prices on the Trenitalia website or at the train station.

In the car

You can also drive to Orvieto, which is a great option if you're hoping to see a few sights and other places along the way. However, you will have to park outside the city: the area is ZTL, sometimes you can enter it, sometimes you can't, but I assure you that the outdoor parking lots are very convenient.

Orvieto is very small, and from the parking lots or even from the station you can easily reach the center by funicular and / or escalators.

With a tour

There are several tour to visit Orvieto which depart from some Italian cities.

-> HERE you will find a very sold TOUR from ROME which includes Orvieto and Assisi

Let's go now to find out the best things to see in Orvieto, you will be enchanted!

1 - The Cathedral

Il Orvieto Cathedral, more precisely the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, is an authentic prodigy of the Gothic architectural style and the beginning of its construction dates back to the XNUMXth century AD

When you find it in front of you, you will be amazed. Through the alleys of Orvieto you would not imagine seeing the Piazza with the Duomo open, truly impressive both for its size and for its decorations.


Particularly noteworthy is the majestic facade, so elaborate as to require centuries of work: its completion took place in the sixteenth century AD.

Despite the passing of the years and styles, the facade has maintained the Gothic style and is decorated with splendid bas-reliefs depicting stories from the Old and New Testament.


Other magnificent details worthy of note are the rose window, at the corners of which the four doctors of the Church are depicted, the mosaics and the bronze statues placed on the sides of the entrance portals.

Il Orvieto Cathedral it's a treasure chest, one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life.

If you are interested in knowing him in depth, here you will find a guided tour that also includes the Pozzo della Cava (for me much better than underground Orvieto, I'll tell you about it later)

2 - The Chapel of San Brizio

La Chapel of San Brizio, located inside the Cathedral of Orvieto on the right transept, dates back to the fifteenth century AD and is presented in all its beauty given the huge amount of frescoes inside.

The baroque altar on which the famous painting of the Madonna di San Brizio stands out is also splendid.

3 - The Chapel of the Corporal

Inside the Cathedral of Orvieto you will find a much older chapel than that of San Brizio, the Chapel of the Corporal, placed on the left transept, dating back to the fourteenth century AD which preserves an important relic: the linen covered with blood that sprung from a host during the famous Mass of Bolsena.


The relic, or "corporal", in fact, is kept inside the chapel of the same name in a precious reliquary made of silver and gold. This chapel is also entirely frescoed and its artistic-pictorial value is of great value.

4 - The Museum of the Opera del Duomo

Located in Piazza Duomo, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo it will make you fill up on art and history since the XNUMXth century AD. The collection is truly vast and heterogeneous, ancient and precious above all from a historical-cultural point of view.


5 - St. Patrick's Well

Probably one of the best known destinations in the city of Orvieto, the St. Patrick's Well it will fascinate you for its architecture, designed and put into practice during the sixteenth century AD, built on commission from Pope Clement VII to ensure the use of water in case the city is besieged.

This well is defined as an authentic masterpiece of architecture and engineering, perfectly capable of fulfilling the task for which it was conceived. 54 meters deep with a diameter of 13, it hosts many tourists who, partly out of superstition and partly out of habit, usually throw coins into the well that somehow prove to be a good omen.

6 - The medieval quarter

Il medieval quarter, or "della Cava" district is a melting pot of alleys and small alleys that are intertwined in the heart of the historic center of Orvieto, the oldest and best preserved part of the city, from via della Cava to churches of San Giovanni e San Giovenale.

Via della Cava in ancient times it allowed one of the main accesses to the city, as evidenced by the existence of the Porta Maggiore and an ancient Etruscan wall.

This district is particularly fascinating both for its particularly perched architectural development and for the overall panorama of the district whose charm can be easily savored.

Here you will also find the Well of the Cava (which I'll tell you about later) which in my humble opinion is a visit not to be missed and one of the best things to see in Orvieto.

7 - Orvieto underground

One of the points of interest that you absolutely must visit is, without a doubt, the Orvieto Underground.

Under the city that we all know today for its unique peculiarities in the world, there is a fascinating and intricate labyrinth of cellars and corridors: it is estimated that the cavities created by man are over 1200.

Some of these excavations seem to date back to the Etruscan, medieval and Renaissance periods. The uses of this underground city have been the most varied over time and eras, now you can simply enjoy the visit by jumping back in the history of the city for hundreds of years!

If you decide to visit it, I recommend that you book the visit through the website. Alternatively, you can go to the office located right in front of the Duomo facade.

8 - The Fortress of Albornoz and Porta Rocca

The mighty Albornoz fortress it dates back to the XNUMXth century and constituted, together with high walls and moats, a fortification system of the city.

Today it houses the public gardens and only a few elements remain of its original structure, but it has not lost its charm and grandeur.

An imposing tower, a part of the perimeter structure and Porta Rocca is all that remains of the ancient fortress, not a little if we consider the hundreds of years that have passed!

9 - The Torre del Moro

This tower located in the heart of the city represents an excellent panoramic point as it is strategically located between the most central and important streets of Orvieto.

From the top of the Torre del Moro, 50 meters high and after an almost infinite series of steps, you can enjoy a splendid "circular" view of the city, remember to bring your camera!

10 - Piazza del Popolo

Strolling through the streets of the city, you will come across the splendid Piazza del Popolo, the most important place for the old town of Orvieto from the XNUMXth century.

Here you will have the opportunity to meet the palace of the same name, formerly an institutional residence, the Bracci - Testasecca palace and the Church of San Rocco, all particularly important buildings from a historical and architectural point of view.

If you wish, then, to assimilate a little more culture, enter the rooms of Simoncelli Palace, also located in Piazza del Popolo, and visit the museum entirely dedicated to the ceramist tradition of Orvieto.

11 - Well of the Cava

Personally I consider the visit to the Well of the Cava much more interesting than the more famous "underground Orvieto".

I made both visits and frankly I left the Pozzo della Cava much happier and more satisfied.
The visit to the “Pozzo della Cava” is a dip in a fascinating underground corner of Orvieto that winds under the streets and houses of the oldest part of the medieval quarter.

Its history is also particularly interesting. The owner, a cheerful gentleman whose nickname is "Il Pazzo del Pozzo", bought the house years ago and, discovering the well (39 meters deep!) Decided to dig at his own expense, bringing out a small museum and a fascinating " journey ”among small underground treasures and rare archaeological remains to be discovered in absolute freedom, thanks to information panels placed along the route that tell the story and amusing anecdotes.

At the end of the route, a small bar is set up on a leafy terrace where you can relax in front of a tasty coffee!

The Pozzo della Cava is also famous for the nativity scene-event with animated characters that is set up every year from 23 December until the Sunday after the Epiphany.

12 - Archaeological Museum and Claudio Faina Museum

It is difficult to imagine today that the small town of Orvieto was instead one of the most important of the Etruscan civilization.

In addition to the Etruscan archaeological sites of Orvieto, the archaeological Museum offers a fantastic opportunity to see Etruscan artifacts and to learn more about the history and culture of the place.

Claudio Faina was a private collector of Etruscan artifacts, but his collection (and the splendid palace in which it is housed) are now open to the public.

The museum is located right in front of the Duomo, so be sure to take a look and don't miss the Etruscan history of Orvieto!

13 - Republic Square

Along the center of Orvieto's public life, this small square may not be the most picturesque, but it's a must-see in Orvieto.

Home of the town hall to this day and once the center of the city's religious life (until the Duomo was erected on the edge of the city), Piazza della Repubblica is worth noting on your list of things to see in Orvieto.

14 - Church of San Giovenale

Standing proudly on the edge of Orvieto, the church of San Giovenale boasts a long history: built in 1004 on the site of a former Etruscan temple, it has the feel of a weathered building that has seen many things come and go during its lifetime.

The interior is still partially decorated with frescoes, so be sure to stop and take a look inside!

15 - Take a tour of Civita di Bagnoregio

About 20 minutes by car from Orvieto, there is one of the most incredible places in all of our boot: Civita di Bagnoregio, the "City that dies" (term that everyone uses, but I don't like it)

The city teeters atop a ridge that rises above a vast canyon ruled by wind and erosion. The strip of land that once connected Civita to its largest and busiest twin city, Bagnoregio, has been consumed and no longer exists.

The photographs in the city show the old donkey path that once connected the hamlets. Today, the only way to enter or exit is via a boardwalk. The supplies are transported to the city on mopeds, the only vehicles authorized to enter Civita.

Where to sleep in Orvieto

There are two places that I particularly recommend where to sleep in Orvieto. I have been in both of them and I found myself extremely well in both.

Both are surrounded by greenery, but at the same time a 5-minute drive from the city of Orvieto: reaching it is very easy thanks to the parking lots and lifts and escalators.

The first is the Farmhouse Podere Pescara, the one in the photo above, just to understand. Family run, the rooms are spacious, the breakfast is really TOP with homemade jams, sweet cakes, yogurt and cereals.

There is a swimming pool, small but nice, surrounded by greenery. A little paradise (look at the reviews here on booking to see!)

The second is the Podere Sette Piagge: this is more than a farmhouse. Here the kitchen food is produced in the vegetable garden and in the orchard, there is a large swimming pool perfect for children in the middle of a lawn surrounded by rose plants.

The gazebo covered with strawberry grapes is beautiful, where breakfast is served in the morning and where parties and dinners are organized in the evening!

See here prices and reviews of Podere Sette Piagge.

Where to eat in Orvieto

There are also two places here that I particularly liked where to eat in Orvieto.

The first is a super-cheap tavern, it's called half Moon, is famous for the carbonara famous throughout Orvieto. Spend little and eat well!

The second place is much more chic and the idea is beautiful: they cook dishes of the medieval Orvieto tradition, forgotten recipes that you can only find here. Try the dishes with truffles, they are exceptional!

The restaurant is called Duke of Orvieto.

As you have surely understood, Orvieto is a real open-air museum, a combination of art and history of immense value, with an underground city to be discovered and a well that, who knows, could give you some luck ... what are you waiting for to fly in Umbria?

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