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What to see and what to do in Orvieto

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To describe the richness of Orvieto’s landscape and its architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic and engineering marvels in just a few lines is no mean feat. And to really discover and explore Orvieto, a single day of walking, museum visits and underground explorations will not suffice, since the city will surprise you at every twist and turn through its winding streets. In the vast territory of a fertile valley crossed by the rivers Tiber and Paglia, above a butte of volcanic tuff with a captivating, intense ochre colour stands the city of Orvieto, every bit like a fairy tale castle. In the centre, the Duomo (Cathedral), a unique and extraordinary architectural work, creates a kaleidoscope of golden mosaics with its facade shining in the sunlight. Illustrious figures such as Luca Signorelli, Ippolito Scalza and Antonio da Sangallo contributed to making the city centre a treasure trove of immense treasures from different eras. The pontiffs themselves, starting from the 16th century, chose Orvieto as their seat due to its strategic and fortified position, transforming it into a lively and productive cultural centre.

The complex nature of the city is evidenced by the multiplicity of the symbols that make up its coat of arms, in which a red cross appears on a white background (to symbolise Orvieto’s loyalty to the pro-papal Guelphs), the black Eagle (symbol of Roman domination), the lion on a red background (another reference to loyalty to the Pope), and finally the Goose (a tribute to the geese of the Capitol who saved Rome). All this and much more is enclosed within the confines of the tufaceous cliff that hosts the houses and streets of a city that is almost 3000 years old and yet, dissatisfied with the above-ground space available, was able to create an alter-ego underground, with extraordinary architectural works that will leave anyone who ventures into the bowels of the earth here absolutely speechless. This enchanting place has, however, also managed to keep abreast of the times, becoming a prime destination for tourists and visitors for nationally and internationally important social events such as Umbria Jazz Winter. Ancient traditional arts and crafts such as woodworking, ceramics and Irish lace making – the ancient vestiges of past civilisations – and the splendour of the artisanal skills of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period have been perfectly integrated into a modern society, whilst maintaining the authenticity of the local products, such as Orvieto’s wine and extra virgin olive oil. Orvieto also transmits its genuine religious devotion via the traditional feast of Corpus Domini and enchants with the natural scenery of a pristine and airy, open landscape where the gaze is lost far away on the horizon.

There are wonders that are difficult to describe in words. The only way to understand them is to experience them and see them with your own eyes: Orvieto is one of these wonders!

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