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Anello della Rupe

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For lovers of trekking and outdoor walks, Orvieto offers a unique experience, thanks to its extraordinary rocky conformation. It is possible to walk around the entire perimeter of the tuff base (the so-called ‘anello della Rupe’) on which the city stands for a distance of about five km, with occasional steep ups and downs, although these are short. The walk is medium-low in terms of difficulty and takes about 90 minutes, but the landscape and archaeological vistas are indescribably beautiful. The route is part of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale Orvietano (Paao) and starts from the town in Piazza Cahen. Taking the path known as ‘Le Piagge’, you skirt the Fortezza Albornoz and begin a short trek through the beauties of the Valley, passing natural and man-made monuments such as Porta Rocca, Fontana di San Zeno (which receives water directly from the Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well), and the Etruscan remains of the Necropolis known as the ‘Crocifisso di Tufo’ because of a small Crucifix carved in relief on the tuff wall of a small church built there. The chestnut trees and the dense vegetation of the fertile valley below, crossed by the Tiber and the Paglia rivers, are interspersed with rocky spurs and imposing tuff walls, which take on different colours depending on the area, from strong ochre yellow to intense red, to softer shades of clay. Pressing on, you reach the little church of the Madonna del Velo, recently restored and transformed into an information point with toilet facilities and known as the ‘Oservatorio della Rupe’. Passing through Porta Maggiore, one arrives at Foro Boario, named after the cattle market that was held there and, a few metres further on, you can begin to make out the impressive structure of the Abbey (Abbazia dei Santi Severo e Martirio). Here and in other sections, the wall is dotted with small holes, carved out since Etruscan times to allow pigeons to nest. At this point the path comes to an end but going up the long paved road you can see the grotta naturale dei tronchi fossili (natural cave of fossil trunks), dating back some 320,000 years, and on the other side the imposing Fortezza Albornoz, which takes intrepid hikers back to the starting point in Piazza Cahen.

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