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Orvieto

PRIVATE GUIDED ROADBIKE TOUR
Age-old villages between Todi and the Martani mountain range

A route through the Martani mountains, on the trail of hamlets and villages

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WINE TASTING
Discover Monterubiaglio and the ancient winery in the cave

Discover the traditions and secrets of the village of Monterubiaglio: visit its alleys, a characteristic winery in a cave and taste wine and other typical products.

35€ Per person
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Etruscan Umbria – From Marsciano to Todi

Discovering the Etruscans. The fourth stage of the itinerary, a moderately-difficulty route towards ancient Todi

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Etruscan Umbria – From Tenaglie to Orvieto

Discovering the Etruscans. The sixth stage of our itinerary on the trail of the secrets of Lucumonia Volsinii

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Etruscan Umbria – From Todi to Tenaglie

Discovering the Etruscans. The fifth stage of our itinerary in search of ancient tombs

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Etruscan Umbria – Orvieto: Castel Viscardo and Porano

Discovering the Etruscans. The seventh stage on our itinerary in search of temples, tombs and necropolises

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Forests and tuff between Orvieto and Città della Pieve

Cycling in magical woods and through timeless towns and villages

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From Narni to Ponte di Augusto and San Cassiano

Discover Narni and its surrounding territory on this easy excursion suitable for everyone

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From Orvieto to Todi and around lake Corbara

Discover the picturesque hills and mountains between two of the region’s most beautiful cities and see the magnificent views around Lake Corbara

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From Piediluco to Labro, on the historic Via Francigena walking route

Following the Via Francigena, then taking a slight detour towards the village of Labro

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From Santa Restituita to Toscolano

A circular route setting off from Santa Restituita to the village of Toscolano

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Guided Tour of Città delle Pieve

Discover the magnificent, picturesque alleys of the native town of the famous Pietro Perugino

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What to see and what to do in Orvieto

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!

Discover Orvieto

Orvieto dominates the fertile valley below from the tuff cliff on which it sits, rising proud and majestic above the vineyards and the dense vegetation that surrounds it. Over three millennia of history have forged the buildings, streets and squares of a city that has experienced different civilisations and that was considered a veritable fortress for many years by the Popes themselves, due to its natural rocky configuration and extraordinary strategic position. The walls of the city enclose a stratified urban layout that still preserves its nature as a defensive fortress. The historic centre is accessed through the ancient city gates: from Porta Soliana or della Rocca, Porta Maggiore or from the 19th-century Porta Romana, you’ll feel like you are stepping into an enchanted world that will amaze you at every turn. Your first stop will be Piazza del Duomo, leaving you awe-struck in front of the magnificence of an architectural work such as the Duomo, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, an incomparable jewel of medieval Gothic art, and a treasure trove of artistic marvels such as the Giudizio Universale (Universal Judgment), painted by Luca Signorelli in the Cappella di S. Brizio or the precious reliquary in the Cappella del Corporale. An entire Museum System has been dedicated to this extraordinary masterpiece, from its design and construction to the various decorative phases that gave it its current appearance, via the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo Orvietano (MODO) which is divided into four different sections, from the Palazzi Papali next to the Cathedral itself, to the Libreria Albèri, the Museo di Emilio Greco at Palazzo Soliano and finally the works preserved in the Chiesa di S. Agostino.

Walking along Via Maitani you will arrive at Piazza Febei, described in an ancient inscription as ‘the highest point of the city’, where you can admire the Chiesa di S. Francesco, its austere external appearance contrasting with the exquisite Baroque decoration inside. Going up Via del Duomo you will find yourself in the heart of the city, at the crossroads with the main street called Corso Cavour, where the Palazzo dei Sette stands, so named because it was the seat of the Seven Magistrates representing the the city’s Corporations of Arts and Crafts, and the extraordinary Torre del Moro, from the top of which, at a height of 50 metres, you can see the whole of Orvieto and the valley shrinking far down below. Going down Corso Cavour, keep your eyes peeled because you’ll see architectural gems from different eras wherever you turn. On the western side you’ll arrive at another focal point: Piazza della Repubblica, with Palazzo Comunale, which is still the administrative seat of the local Comune (Municipality). Its elegant forms are the work of illustrious architects such as Sangallo and Ippolito Scalza. Next to this civil building stands the Chiesa di S. Andrea and the monumental 12-sided bell tower. Not far away stands yet another treasure. On Via della Cava you’ll find the well called Pozzo della Cava, one of Orvieto’s numerous and remarkable works of hydraulic engineering, and then the Chiesa di S. Giovenale, perhaps the oldest church in the city. Moving eastwards instead, you will arrive at the third and last focal point in the city: Piazza del Popolo, architecturally framed by the beautiful Palazzo del Popolo, the ancient seat of the Capitano del Popolo (a sort of Sheriff) in the Middle Ages and today an elegant Congress Centre. At this point, if you move towards the end the cliff, you can stop to admire the 19th-century Teatro Mancinelli, built by popular consensus on the basis of a design by the architect Vespignani. At the end of the road, you can explore the city’s fascinating public gardens, which are inside the walls of the ancient Fortezza di Albornoz, where you can wander around and breathe in the magical atmosphere of the famous well called Pozzo di San Patrizio, commissioned by Pope Clement VII in the 16th century, or dive into an even more distant ancient past with the archaeological remains of the Tempio Etrusco del Belvedere, impressively preserved and within a short distance from Piazza Cahen.

In short, it’s best to organise your time well in Orvieto because it is a real treasure trove of hidden wonders waiting to be discovered and admired.

The majestic Abbazia dei Santi Severo e Martirio, commonly known as La Badia, stands about 3 km from the town in a southerly direction, on the road leading to Porano, not far from Rupe di Orvieto. The earliest buildings in the complex date back to the 6th century when the Lombard noblewoman Rotruda had the Abbey built near a small church dedicated to San Silvestro. Tradition has it that after the death of San Severo, the noblewoman extended her hand to touch the coffin, but it remained imprisoned until she vowed to build a church dedicated to the saint in the same spot. The complex was therefore built and named after Severo and his disciple, San Martirio.

As for documentary evidence, the monastic complex was well known as early as 1055 and remained so until 1221 when it was occupied by Benedictine monks.

After the monks rebelled against the Bishop of Orvieto, Pope Honorius III chased the Order from the Abbey and replaced it with the reformed Benedictine monks of the Premonstratensian or Norbertine Order, after their founder Norbert, canon of Xanten and archbishop of Magdeburg.

Under order of the latter, a large refectory, cloister and Chapter hall – all still well preserved – were added to the pre-existing church, monastery and beautiful twelve-sided bell tower.

Overall, the complex is composed of imposing buildings attributable to different eras, which have been modified over time both from an architectonic and functional point of view.

The original church, Oratorio and Campanile (Bell Tower) – which has become a symbol of the entire complex – are all definitely worth seeing.

Dating back to the 12th century, the church still boasts a wonderful Cosmatesque floor and a stone altar embellished with a bas-relief frontal, dating back to Roman times. Accessible from an elegant portal with a pointed arch, it has a single nave on two floors: the upper is dedicated to the choir, the lower to the vestibule.

A peculiarity of the church is the small apse at the back which enabled the abbot to follow the services. This was not actually an entirely new architectural expedient in the city. Other examples can be found in the churches of Santo Stefano and Santa Mustiola in Orvieto and San Bartolomeo in Morrano.

Another very special atmosphere can be felt in the Oratorio del Crocifisso next to the entrance to the complex. This immense hall is decorated with precious frescos from the 13th century, the most important representing the Crucifix among the Saints Mary Magdalene, Agostino, Severo, Giovanni, Elisabetta, Battista and Martirio. The hall was used as a refectory in the original structure.

Finally, the majestic and unusual bell tower deserves a special mention, with its spectacular twelve-sided construction. From a stylistic point of view, the tower seems to fit in with the earliest buildings in the monastic complex (12th century) and presents a first series of double lancet windows while later an order of single-lancet windows were added and a crenelated cornice. The bell housed there was called ‘Viola’ due to its soft tones.

Today the privately owned Abbey has been transformed into luxurious accommodation, where some spaces have been used as rooms for guests, while others, such as the tower and other rooms of the medieval complex, can be visited freely.

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.

A short distance from the Duomo, along Via Maitani, there is a damaged plaque describing Piazza Febei, commonly known to the locals as Piazza San Francesco, as ‘the highest point in the city’.

The chiesa di San Francesco and the adjoining convent were built in the 13th century, next to Palazzo dei Coelli, on the site of a previous church dedicated to Santa Maria della Pulzella and a monastery inhabited by Benedictine monks. The entire complex was expanded in 1262 by order of St Bonaventura and consecrated in 1266 by Pope Clement IV. From that moment on, St Francis’ church played an important role for the city. Tradition attributes the foundation of the convent to St Francis in person, and this church in Orvieto seems to have been the second Church named after the humble man of God, after the Basilica of Assisi.

What is certain is that the building had to serve as the city’s cathedral for many years and important historical events took place within its walls, such as the funeral of King Henry of England and the canonization of Louis IX of France by Boniface VIII.

The cloister was rebuilt in the 16th century according to a design by Ippolito Scalza, while the Baroque-style interior was added during modern intervention in 1773.

From a structural point of view the church is simple in shape, with a single internal nave, a trussed roof and a brick facade punctuated by three entrance portals with pointed arches, surmounted by a central window and two side rosettes.

Since 2009, the rooms of the annexed convent house the Municipal Library L. Fumi.

The Chiesa di S. Giovenale is probably the oldest in the city of Orvieto. It rises at the western end of the town’s rocky outcrop, on the remains of a previous early Christian church, already named after the same saint, in turn built near an ancient Etruscan temple dedicated to Tinia (Jupiter).

The modern building dates back to 1004, when it was commissioned and financed by various noble families in the city: the Conti, the Rossi, the Di Marsciano, the Ranaldini and others who lived in the Olmo district.

Currently the church retains simple Romanesque forms, with a facade in exposed square tufa ashlars, in which there is a central portal with a round arch. A bell tower stands on the left side of the facade and was remodelled several times in the upper section due to damage caused by lightning, while on the right side of the building there is a Renaissance-style portal, decorated with a bas-relief bust of San Giovenale in bishop’s vestments, dated to 1497. Internally, the church is divided into three naves: a wider central one with a trussed vault and two smaller side naves that are barrel vaulted. Due to restoration work carried out in the modern era, traces of some valuable frescoes from medieval Orvieto, dating to around the 13th century, have been brought to light. Unfortunately, some of these works of art had been plastered over and painted white, around 1640, possibly in an attempt to sanitize the church after its use as a shelter for patients with the plague during the severe epidemic.

The beautiful church dedicated to Sant’Andrea and San Bartolomeo stands in one of the city’s main squares, Piazza Repubblica, next to the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall).

The building in its present form is the result of numerous alterations over the centuries. The Romanesque forms suggest construction in the 11th century, with a monumental red marble entrance portal added by Vito di Marco da Siena in the 16th century. The sculptural figures of the portal lunette and the stained glass in the elegant central rose window are attributable to more recent interventions carried out between 1926-30. The characteristic bell tower, in tuff, built on a 12-sided plan with three rows of mullioned windows and a crenelated cornice is also from the same period.

On the opposite side of the facade, to the left of the observer, the structure is embellished by an airy loggia, leaning against the church wall.

Internally, the building is divided into three large naves, separated by giant columns with a raised presbytery and a beautiful four-sided apse. The Church played an important role in the city starting in ancient times, becoming the seat of important ceremonies such as the appointment of Pope Martin IV and cardinals of the calibre of Nicolas IV and Boniface VIII. The works of art inside date back to different periods and styles: from the 14th-century frescoes to the 14th-century sepulchral shrine, the Cosmatesque pulpit and works by artists such as Nebbia and his pupil Angelo Righi from Orvieto.

The outstanding significance of this building can be found in its underground part, which can be visited with a guide, displaying ancient remains attributable to four different periods: from the first phase of the Bronze Age to the Villanovan and Etruscan periods of the 6th century BC, and up to the most recent Roman and Christian periods.

Orvieto’s Duomo is an undisputed masterpiece of late medieval-Gothic architecture. The variety of decorative elements – all perfectly integrated into each other despite being the work of many different artists – and the majesty of the structural forms makes this building unique in Italian architecture. As a symbol of the city, its bulk towers over and dominates the entire plateau on which it stands. Some of the most eminent master builders of the Italian Middle Ages contributed to its construction over a period of more than three centuries, from the 13th to the 17th century.

The first stone is said to have been placed in 1290 in a joint decision between the Church, in the person of Pope Urban IV, and the Commune. In fact, two needs had to be met: on the one hand the substitution of two small, dilapidated churches of S. Maria (episcopal) and of S. Costanzo (Parochial) in the town square, of the on the other, that of giving a worthy resting place to the holy relic of the famous ‘Miracle of the Blood’ of Bolsena. According to tradition, during a Mass, in the church of S. Cristina in 1263, the consecrated host began to bleed in the hands of a priest who did not fully believe in the dogma of transubstantiation. The drops of blood trickled down and stained the altar cloth, the sacred Corporal, which is still preserved in the chapel of the same name and carried in procession for the feast of Corpus Domini.

The first building project included a Romanesque basilica, but it was modified to a purely Gothic structure when Giovanni di Uguccione replaced Fra Bevignate in directing the works. The sculptor and architect Lorenzo Maitani was entrusted with the continuation of the work in 1309, which he accomplished spectacularly, creating a rectangular apse, a four-lancet window behind the altar, the beautiful relief decorations of the four pillars at the bottom of the facade, and four beautiful bronze sculptures symbolizing the evangelists. On his death, the Duomo was entrusted to the fine skills of Andrea Pisano, who was already working at the Duomo in Florence and, from 1359, to the mastery of Andrea di Cione, known as Orcagna, who created the marvellous mosaic  decorations and the rose window on the facade.

Over subsequent years, direction of the works passed to illustrious figures such as Michele Sanmicheli and Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, up to the final interventions carried out in 1970, when the original wooden doors were replaced by majestic bronze portals, with scenes dedicated to ‘Works of Mercy’, created by the Sicilian sculptor Emilio Greco.

The facade of the Duomo overlooks the square and captivates observers with the richness of its decorative elements and the grandeur of its architecture as it rises majestically upwards: the brilliance of the golden mosaics, which illustrate scenes from the life of the Our Lady of the Assumption to whom the Cathedral is dedicated, provides a background to the magnificent central rose window, composed of a double row of columns with crossed arches, framed on all four sides by the mosaics of the Christian Fathers: Sant’Agostino, San Gregorio Magno, San Girolamo and Sant’Ambrogio and by the sculptures of the Apostles and the Prophets.

The much more sober side walls are instead characterized by the alternation of basalt and travertine rows which give the building the characteristic alternating white-dark green colour. Inside, the Duomo has a Latin cross plan, divided into three spacious and elegant aisles, with trussed roofing and the same decoration with alternate travertine and basalt bands as on the outside. Among the works of art worthy of mention are the Pietà (or Deposition) and the pipe organ by Ippolito Scalza. A number of masterpieces are also preserved in the two side chapels of the transept: the Capella del Corporale houses the sacred relic of the “Miracle of Bolsena” in a very precious reliquary, made between 1337-38 by the Sienese goldsmith Ugolino di Vieri; the Capella della Madonna di San Brizio is decorated with frescoes by illustrious painters of the calibre of Fra Angelico, Benozzo Gozzoli and Perugino, and the indescribable masterpiece of the Giudizio Universale (Last Judgment), created between 1500-1503 by Luca Signorelli, imitating Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

The remains of the imposing Fortezza di Albornoz stand on the eastern end of the tuff cliff,  leaning against the Porta Rocca or Soliana, and are accessible from Piazza Cahen.

Due to its strategic position of domination and control over the valley of the Paglia river, the fortress was built in the 14th century on commission of Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, legate to Pope Innocent VI. According to historical records, work officially began on 25th September 1364, under the direction of Count Ugolino di Montemarte, a military architect on the payroll of the Commune of Orvieto. The original fortress was a massive quadrangular building with defensive towers on the sides, protected by a moat with two drawbridges. Today, unfortunately, only part of the original perimeter wall remains, along with a tower and the rampart walk.

The Fortress was almost entirely destroyed in 1390 but rebuilt on the ancient perimeter by Antonio da Carpi and in 1527, by order of Pope Clement VII, its water supply was guaranteed by the construction of the famous Pozzo di San Patrizio.

The most recent works commenced in 1888: the moat was filled in and prepared for the construction of the Funicular line and an Amphitheatre for daytime shows. The Fortress is currently home to the Parco Giardino Pubblico di Orvieto (Orvieto Public Gardens), which offers a spectacular view of the valley stretching out endlessly below.

The National Archaeological Museum of Orvieto is located in the heart of the city, in Piazza del Duomo, in what had once been the Papal Palace, opposite the other city museum called Faina.

The museum displays a very rich collection of archaeological finds, discovered over the centuries, in the sites that gravitate around the city: from the Etruscan necropolis of Crocifisso di tufo and Cannicella, which extend outwards from the foot of the cliff, to smaller surrounding centres such as Porano and other recent discoveries made in on-going excavations at the site of Campo della Fiera, identified with the very famous Fanum Voltumnae.

Among the ceramic finds of various kinds and origins, the ‘buccheri’ (shiny black ceramics) of Etruscan production are fascinating, as are the bronze statues and other objects related to the funerary equipment of the families buried in the necropolis.

One room is dedicated to the reconstruction of the two Golini tombs. These are two sepulchral environments found at the end of the 19th century, with walls bearing very interesting decorative frescos for the reconstruction of ancient daily life. To ensure the preservation of the paintings, they were removed from the original place and placed in the museum in perfect compliance with their true original location. The scenes describe, in great detail, the funeral banquet of the deceased in the presence of the underworld, surrounded by servants engaged in the preparation of foodstuffs.

The archaeological museum of Faina is located in Piazza del Duomo and occupies Palazzo Faina, which once housed the Monaldeschi, one of the most powerful families in 13th-century Orvieto. A museum since 1954, it was purchased in the 19th century by Count Claudio Faina senior, who transferred his family collection from Perugia to Orvieto. In that year, the last heir of the family, Claudio Faina junior, decided to donate the building and all his belongings to the Comune di Orvieto to fund the ‘Fondazione per il Museo Claudio Faina’.

The current, very varied exhibition is set out on various levels. On the ground floor, the Museo Civico has a collection of important archaeological remains from various sites in Orvieto. The most famous object is certainly the Venere di Cannicella. The first floor hosts the Faina family collection composed of incredibly precious coins: pieces from the Roman era, from the republican to the imperial period, displayed in strict chronological order. Finally, on the second floor are ceramics from the Etruscan and Greek periods, organised according to typology and chronology. This floor of the building also has a corridor from which you can admire a unique and captivating view of the Duomo.

The museum called Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Orvieto (MODO) is not really a single museum but a system of museums organised on different levels that are all close to or directly connected with the Duomo. The exhibition and the entire itinerary have the Duomo (cathedral) dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta as its focal point and fulcrum, since it is the undisputed masterpiece of the city of Orvieto. The various rooms contain not only documents and correspondence linked to the various phases of design and construction of the cathedral but also furnishings and decorative elements, once kept inside but then removed in the 19th century, following major restoration work which aimed to restore the Cathedral to its original sobriety.

The exhibition starts from the Duomo itself and moves into the rooms of the Palazzi Papali where there are frescoes from the 14th and 15th century, sculptures and paintings by artists such as Ippolito Scalza, Cesare Nebbia and Arnolfo di Cambio, and finally large panels of the sinopias (preparatory drawings) of frescoes in the Capella del Corporale. The route continues to the Libreria Albèri, built in 1499 by the archdeacon Antonio Albèri who decided to donate his collection of manuscripts and incunabula, totalling more than 300 pieces, to the Duomo. Palazzo Soliano, which is also a papal building, houses the modern collection of bronzes created by the Sicilian sculptor Emilio Greco, to whom we also owe the three monumental portals of the Duomo itself. The itinerary ends in the Church of S. Agostino, where the wonderful sculptural groups referred to as ‘dell’Annunciazione’ are exhibited, created by Francesco Mochi in the 17th century, along with statues of Apostles and Saints, dated from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

Orvieto’s fascinating Museo delle Maioliche Medievali e Rinascimentali (Museum of Medieval and Renaissance Maiolica Ceramics) was set up inside a disused ancient furnace in one of the oldest parts of the city, in Via della Cava. The sumptuous collection derives from the output and scraps of two ancient kilns located in same street and active for about two hundred years, between the 14th and 16th centuries.

For a long time it was thought that the maiolica ceramics in Orvieto all came from other parts of Umbria and from central Italy (e.g. Deruta) but a more careful analysis of the stylistic and decorative characteristics of the ceramics at the museum led to the conclusion that most of the production must have been local and exported to other large cities in the region such as Gubbio, Montelupo or Faenza, where the ceramics are identical to those in Orvieto.

The museum consists of ten rooms, each dedicated to a particular section of the exhibition, the most important being the Sala dei Simboli, where the most important pieces are kept.

The presence of the Etruscans in Umbria has marked the history and conformation of Orvieto since ancient times, starting from the 6th century BC and stretching over a very long period, leaving important traces that are still visible today both on the surface and underground. As often happens, not only the cities of the living but also those of the dead have become a source of interest and a magnet for archaeologists and modern visitors. In Orvieto, there are two large areas dedicated to the burial of the dead during Etruscan times, positioned respectively north and south of the great cliff of volcanic tuff. They have been extremely well preserved and can now be visited, accompanied by a guide: the Necropoli di Crocifisso del Tufo and the Necropoli della Cannicella. The first takes its name from a crucifix carved in the tufaceous wall of a small Christian church built in the area in the Middle Ages, while the second is so named because of the presence of numerous reeds that surround the area. In both cases, the easily-recognisable rectangular burial spaces are perfectly imbedded in the regular urban layout. Many of the tombs still retain the names of the families that were buried there, while numerous relics and funeral objects found there are now kept in the town’s museums.

There was once also a Sanctuary built on the Necropolis of Cannicella dedicated to the goddess Vei, (the Etruscan Demeter), cited in an inscription found in the area, and attested to by the discovery of one of the most interesting finds in the city’s entire collection: the Venere di Cannicella (the Venus of Cannicella), a female figure from the Greek island of Paro, now displayed at the Museo Faina di Orvieto.

To the architectural and landscape marvels of the surface, kissed by the sun and surrounded by the greenery of the valley that hosts it, Orvieto combines a hidden treasure and, for a long time remained unknown, today known as Orvieto Sotterranea or Orvieto Underground.

The discovery is due to the commitment of some speleologists who first ventured into a real underground world that still does not cease to amaze anyone who enters them. Thanks to ancient and modern studies (the first censuses began since the nineteenth century), today it has been possible to survey as many as 1200 cavities of different nature, age and function that constitute the labyrinthine heart of the city.

From Piazza del Duomo a guided tour will allow visitors to explore the wonders of this parallel world, retracing the stages of history from the Etruscan city of Velzna, to the Urbs Vetus of the Middle Ages, to reach the cisterns, wells, even the remains of a Renaissance and modern mill. There are many “colombai”, small rectangular openings carved into the rock, generally in connection with the outside that allowed the breeding of pigeons. It will be possible to recognize the unmistakable Etruscan wells, jewels of hydraulic architecture with “pedarole”, made on the walls of the cavities to allow the ascent and descent into the wells. Intricate tunnels, will travel the city spaces for miles, showing the remains of cisterns, environments dedicated to the shelter of animals, fullonics for dyeing wool, even the remains of the urban aqueduct that was built in the Renaissance, connecting to the structures of the very famous Pozzi di S. Patrizio and della Cava, without forgetting the very ancient Grotta dei trochi fossili, which returned paleobotanical remains dating back to 320 thousand years ago, long before the arrival of men.

The private underground Museum, known as “Hadrian’s Labyrinth”, deserves a special mention. The definition of Labyrinth derives from the tortuous nature of the path that winds through about twenty tunnels, wells, cavities and cisterns that were discovered, in the Seventies, by Adriano and Rita, owners of the pastry shop that rises immediately above the museum. During the renovation works on the floor, the two pastry chefs made the unusual discovery and transformed the area into an archaeological site, which can be visited with a guide, who was recognized as a private museum.

In short, the nature of the Rupe, composed of tufa and pozzolana, allowed the uncontaminated spaces of the subsoil to be worked for three thousand years, creating a world that today constitutes the other side of the medal of a city that is already wonderful even on the surface.

The exceptional structure of the city of Orvieto, built entirely on a tuff base, thereby guaranteeing its protection from enemy attacks, has allowed for the preservation of a large part of the immense city gates that allowed access to the historic centre in the Middle Ages. Of the many entrances built, two have now been completely lost: Porta Cassia and Porta Daziaria (so called because passage through it required the payment of a customs duty). Both were located in present-day Piazza Cahen.

The other Porte (Gates), on the other hand, are well preserved, visible and still used as entrances to the city: Porta Vivaria, which can only be accessed on foot, leads to the Etruscan necropolis of Crucifisso del Tufo via an attractive walk along the sides of the cliff and Porta Maggiore and Porta Soliana (or della Rocca). Located, respectively, on the west and east sides of the cliff, these two gates were built for defensive purposes in the 13th century and are both decorated with a statue of Pope Boniface VIII.

The last and most important of these monumental Gates, Porta Romana, was built in modern times, in 1822, and is currently the main entrance to the city. The gate is modern in design and made of regular stone ashlars that lend simplicity and elegance. There are two decorative statues at either side representing an imperial eagle and a goose, taken from the Orvieto city coat of arms and closely linked to the history of the city of Rome. The goose refers to the geese of the Campidoglio (dedicated to the goddess Juno) who foiled numerous attacks on the city thanks to their gaggling.

One of the most famous tourist attractions in the city of Orvieto is certainly the Pozzo di San Patrizio (St Patrick’s Well). This masterpiece of hydraulic engineering, although part of the intricate underground system of the entire city, is unique and a marvel not to be missed.

The work was commissioned in 1527 by Pope Clement VII, who had taken refuge in Orvieto following the ruinous ‘sack of Rome’. In order to ensure a water supply to the Fortezza Albornoz in the event of a siege, the pontiff commissioned Antonio da Sangallo the Younger with the ambitious project, enabling the latter to showcase all his skills as a Renaissance artist.

The well has a depth of 53 metres and a diameter of 13 and is positioned inside the Fortress in the spot where it would have been strategically easier to reach the aquifer. The exceptional nature of the project lies in Sangallo’s creation of two monumental helicoidal staircases (on the model of the spiral staircase in Villa Belvedere in the Vatican) that never meet, each of which is made up of 248 steps, designed to ensure the movement of the beasts of burden used for transporting water, without these colliding in both directions of travel. Today the intriguing climb can be enjoyed by tourists wanting to experience something truly remarkable. The corridors on the stairways are lit by seventy-two windows that give the whole structure a surreal atmosphere. The well was initially known as Pozzo della Rocca but it was renamed after s. Patrizio (St Patrick) at the behest of the monks of the nearby convent of the Servi, who associated the well in Orvieto with the famous well of the Irish saint, in which it was reputedly possible to descend to Purgatory.

In one of the most ancient and intriguing areas of the city, accessible from Via della Cava, stands a fascinating well, Pozzo della Cava, so-called because the area housed a quarry of building materials in ancient times.

The well, brought to light over the course of various interventions, has a depth of 36 metres, divided into two connected structures: the first, with a circular plan, has a diameter of about 3.40 metres, while the second is rectangular, measures 60 x 80 centimetres and presents evident signs of the Etruscan ‘pedarole’, which are incisions made on the walls to allow ascent and descent.

Following the discovery of a signed letter by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger made by Lucio Ricetti in 1999, it was possible to confirm that Pozzo della Cava was the first well built in Orvieto commissioned by Pope Clement VII, around 1527, even before the equally famous Pozzo di S. Patrizio.

The well was entirely dug by hand in the lithoid tuff of which Orvieto’s rock is composed, and must have very ancient origins, as a whole series of spaces and ‘caves’ datable to various ages and functions develop outwards from it and around it: remains of tombs, water tunnels and cisterns dating back to the Etruscan period, but also the remains of an oven for the manufacture of ceramics or cellars dating back to the Middle Ages.

Over recent years, during the Christmas period, the Well has become the chosen spot for a characterful Nativity scene, becoming a tourist attraction in the city known as ‘Il Presepe nel Pozzo’ (‘The Nativity in the Well’), with religious performances on the theme of the nativity.

In Corso Cavour, n. 122, a few steps from the Orvieto’s Duomo, stands the beautiful neoclassical Teatro Cittadino, a fine example of 19th-century architecture.

It was built in 1838, at the behest of a group of citizens who decided to establish an association for the construction of a real theatre in the city. The design and construction of the theatre in elegant neoclassical style were entrusted to Virginio Vespignani, a well-known architect responsible for restorations of many of Orvieto’s palazzi.

Before this date and starting from the 16th century, theatre was performed on the upper floor room of the Palazzo del Popolo, on a wooden structure that, however, eventually proved inadequate. The actors who performed for years on Orvieto’s stages were part of two associations, the first was called ‘degli Scemi’ or ‘dei Confusi’ and was replaced by the second called ‘dei Misti’, in the 19th century.

Internally, the theatre has large, elegant rooms that perfectly reflect the monumental appearance of the external facade. On the entrance stairway there are busts of four important figures: the architect Vespignani who designed the theatre, the painter Fracassini to whom we owe the beautiful painting of the theatrical curtain, and the two brothers Marino and Luigi Mancinelli. The theatre was named after the latter, who was a famous composer and musical director, in 1922.

At the entrance to the city, not far from the Pozzo di S. Patrizio and near Piazza Cahen, you can admire the remains of an ancient Etruscan temple known as the Tempio del Belvedere, perhaps dedicated to the divinity Tinia (the Jupiter of the Etruscans). The podium and the monumental entrance staircase of the original temple are still perfectly preserved, while only the bases remain of the four columns that were to frame the sacred hall. Other architectural remains of the temple, such as fragments of decorative friezes are kept in the Museo Archeologico di Faina.

Together with the Necropolises of del Crocifisso and Cannicella, the temple forms part of the archaeological area outside the city of Fanum Voltumnae, clear evidence of the importance of the Etruscans in the Orvieto area.

To the west of Orvieto’s cliff, in a place called ‘Campo della Fiera’, archaeological excavations are still currently investigating the surrounding area. The discovery of finds of various kinds such as coins, jewels, remains of buildings, Greek friezes and ceramics, has led scholars to identify the area at the foot of Orvieto as the famous Fanum Voltumnae cited by ancient writers, making it one of the most important sacred and political sites in the Etruscan world. The sanctuary was in fact dedicated to the god Voltumna and was the federal seat of the twelve cities of the Etruscan league. Tito Livio describes not only the religious festivals celebrated in this sacred place but also worldly and political events such as fairs, markets, games and theatrical performances, as well its role as the site for the election of military commanders.

The beautiful Torre del Moro stands proudly at the crossroads of three of the most important streets in the city: Corso Cavour, Via della Costituente and Via del Duomo, as if to highlight the heart of the city and act as a watershed between the four districts that compose it. Formerly known as the Torre del Papa, the tower was reputedly granted to the Commune of Orvieto, together with the annexed building Palazzo dei Sette, by Pope Leo X, in 1515.

Various hypotheses have been advanced regarding its etymology: according to some, it derives from the insignia of the Moor or quintain that was affixed to the tower on the occasion of the medieval jousts, while according to others it is attributable to Raffaele di Sante, also known as ‘il Moro’ who lived there in the 16th century.

The tower rises to a height of about 50 metres above the city and is accessible to visitors. The terrace on the top affords a breath-taking, all-round view of the entire city of Orvieto and the surrounding area.

Annexed to the tower and directly connected to it is Palazzo dei Sette. Belonging previously to the Della Terza counts, it later passed under Papal rule and was the seat of the Governor during the period of the Communes. Tradition has it that the building also hosted Antonio da Sangallo for a certain period. The name derives from the very important function that the building covered at the end of the 13th century, when it was chosen as the seat of the magistracy of the seven consuls representing the Arts and Crafts of the city of Orvieto.

The building underwent renovations and alternations in the 16th century and in more recent times, in 1996, when it was transformed into an elegant space for exhibitions and events.

Located in Piazza della Repubblica, next to the Torre Campanaria (Bell Tower) and the Chiesa di S. Andrea, Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) is still the seat of the Municipality of Orvieto.

The original layout dates back to the 12th century but its modern appearance is the result of subsequent renovations. Over time, the building passed under the dominion of local noble families and the Church, until it reverted to municipal ownership and to definitively carry out its function. The last major restoration was carried out in 1532 when Sangallo’s design for renovation was commissioned, while the direction of the works was later entrusted to Ippolito Scalza. Two designs followed: one by Sangallo for the portico of the lower floor and the other by Scalza for the upper floors but the works, interrupted in 1581, were never completed as can be seen from the building’s unfinished loggia.

The building still has a very elegant appearance, nonetheless, organized on three levels: the first has an entrance loggia that supports the balconies above, the second is composed of an order of framed windows surmounted by tympanums, and the third and last has small rectangular windows.

Inside the building there are pictorial decorations with interesting architectural features, including all the coats of arms and views of the castles that were under the jurisdiction of Orvieto in the 17th century and which are minutely represented in the Palazzo’s Aula Consigliare (Council Chamber).

Not far from the Torre del Moro is Piazza del Popolo, a square that has been important since ancient times because of the city market held there and because it was the fulcrum of the social, civil and even the political life of the city. The Palazzo del Popolo still stands in this square and was built in the 13th century, probably commissioned by the Neri della Greca family, refashioning a previous papal building. The building had the very important role of being the seat of the Capitano del Popolo, a leading figure in the medieval period who represented the Populace and who played a fundamental political role alongside Consuls and ‘Podestà’ (a magistrate or high official).

For some time, the building was also used as the seat of the Podestà and in the 16th century, even a theatre was set up on the first floor of the building.

Architecturally, its forms are elegant and refined, with round arches framing the elegant triple-lancet windows of the first floor which guaranteed lighting for the building’s main hall.

The current appearance of the building is due to restoration and redevelopment work carried out in the 19th century by Paolo Zampi. Then, in 1989, three large conference rooms were built inside the Palazzo: the Sala dei Quattrocento, the Sala Expo and the Sala Etrusca, which host important city events. As the building is now the city’s Congress Centre, it is not accessible to tourists.

If you thought the city had already shown off its best architectural, artistic and archaeological gems, you still have a whole hidden world to discover underground: a real city, under the city. Commonly referred to as ‘Orvieto Sotterranea’ or ‘Orvieto Underground’, this is an extraordinary, extensive and captivating world, as impressive if not more so, than the city above ground, where you can wander through a maze of over 1200 cavities, amongst tunnels, canals, ancient caves, cisterns and wells originating in different eras. Here, in the bowels of the earth, you’ll find the Museo delle Maioliche Medievali e Rinascimentali Orvietane (Museum of Medieval and Renaissance Maiolica Ceramics from Orvieto), just one of the many city collections that preserve the countless remains of an historically and culturally rich civilisation. To get a broader overview, visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Museo Civico Faina, both in Piazza del Duomo. And if museums are not your thing, Orvieto will still amaze you by revealing the richness of the surrounding area at the foot of the tuff cliff. Starting from Piazza Cahen in the city, lovers of trekking and nature will be able to walk for about five km around the entire perimeter of the bass of the tuff butte on which the city stands, the so-called Anello della Rupe (literally ‘Ring of the Cliff’), alternating between fabulous natural scenery to traces of ancient civilisations: the Etruscan necropolises of Crocifisso del Tufo and della Cannicella, as well as the famous Fanum Voltumnae. These wonders of the past, located so close to the historic centre, still have much to tell tourists and curious visitors. At this point, if you’re tired but feel satisfied, drive a few kilometres to the south to another unmissable site, the Badia (Abbazia dei Santi Severo e Martirio), an imposing 9th-century building that, despite being transformed into a modern accommodation facility, still retains all the magic of medieval devotion with its 12-sided tower and other rooms that can be visited, making you feel suspended in time and space…

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FROM ITS ORIGINS TO THE MIDDLE AGES

The origins of Orvieto go back to time immemorial, to the 9th century BC, when traces of the first Villanovan community (earliest Iron Age) appeared on the large tuff cliff. They were the ancestors of the Etruscans, who became the undisputed masters of Central Italy for about six centuries. The city of Velza (Volsinii for the Romans, now Orvieto) was the seat of the league of the twelve main cities. Even before the great Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean, Orvieto was a cradle of culture and civilization. The city still preserves many vestiges of the prosperous Etruscan period, attesting to its glorious past: the Necropolises of Crocifisso del Tufo and della Cannicella, the Tempio del Belvedere, numerous ceramics and funerary objects displayed in the city museums, and the very recent archaeological site of Campo della Fiera, which many scholars identify as the famous Fanum Voltumnae. This would have been the seat of the league of the Etruscan cities where, according to ancient writers, the Council of Etruscan leaders periodically met to deliberate on domestic and foreign affairs and to elect the commander of the league. From the beginning, Velza, and therefore Orvieto, played an important role.

Due to internal disagreements, mainly caused by a slave revolt, some Etruscan noble families turned to the Romans for help. A small group of soldiers led by General Quintus Fabius Maximus was dispatched immediately but the uprising was so brutal that the general himself fell victim to the enemy, making the Roman backlash even harsher. In 264 BC, the great city of Velza was completely razed to the ground and its inhabitants forced to move near Bolsena, the Volsinii Novi of the Romans. A period of decadence and almost total abandonment of the tuff cliff ensued, and the affectionate inhabitants could not return until the 3rd century AD, during the deep crisis of the Roman Empire.

A slow process of repopulation of the city began with the barbarian invasions of the Goths and Lombards, starting from the western slope of the cliff, becoming the cradle of what would turn into the Urbs Vetus of the Middle Ages.

 

THE AGE OF THE COMMUNES AND THE RENAISSANCE

In 1137, Orvieto was established as a Free Commune, even if only a few years later, in 1157, a papal delegation formalized its investiture, placing control of the city in the hands of the Pope. The papal yoke, entrusted to various figures including Pietro Parenzo, transformed Orvieto into a Guelph stronghold in constant struggle with the Ghibelline factions of the city. The two noble local families who fought for power over decades were the Monaldeschi – Guelphs – and the Filippeschi – Ghibellines. Despite internal tensions, Papal protection guaranteed the city new cultural and social stimuli, ushering in a period of great development and prosperity for Orvieto. During the 13th century, the political structure of the city was consolidated, with the establishment of the most important Communal magistrates. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the figure of the Capitano del Popolo (1250) and the Magistratura dei Sette (1292) were established. At the same time the city changed in appearance, with the construction of important buildings and urban development which culminated with the opening of the Duomo construction site in 1290. In recent years, the city structure has reflected its excellent institutional organization. The four districts of the city: Serancia, San Giovenale, Postierla and Santa Pace became the seat of the powers recognized by the Commune via fair distribution: the Duomo became a symbol of religious power; the Palazzo del Popolo became an expression of popular sovereignty, and the Palazzo Comunale and the current Piazza della Repubblica became the seat of political power.

The prosperous period ended, unfortunately, in 1348, when due to the serious epidemic of plague that devastated Italy and the local noble families’ continuous internal struggles (four branches of the same family of the Monaldeschi were in conflict with each other), the city fell again and definitively under papal control. In 1354, Cardinal Egidio Albornoz led the pontiff’s troops to the city and began construction work on the Fortezza Albornoz, transforming the city of Orvieto into a veritable refuge for the popes after the invasion of Rome by the Landsknechte (mercenary soldiers). Undisputable proof of their presence is represented by the statues of Boniface VIII at the Maggiore and Soliana city gates and the construction of the two very famous wells of Cava and S. Patrizio, which were commissioned in 1527 by Pope Clement VII to ensure a water supply to the Fortress in case of siege.

However, as had already occurred in the 13th century, the papal presence in the 16th century also revived the city, fostering its architectural and cultural prosperity. It was during this period that figures such as Antonio da Sangallo, Ippolito Scalza and Francesco Mochi worked in the city, and the actors of the Confusi and Misti Academies operated, leading to the creation of the city’s theatre.

 

THE MODERN ERA

In 1798, the advent of French troops led to an uprising by the population of Orvieto, which was harshly and easily suppressed by the Napoleonic troops with the subsequent erection of the monument in Piazza Maggiore known as the Albero della Libertà.

A new period of prosperity for the city came only a few decades later, in 1860, with the annexation to the nascent Italian state, thanks to the heroic action of the native of Orvieto, Filippo Antonio Gualterio, who managed to put together an army of volunteers, the so-called ‘Cacciatori del Tevere’ (literally ‘Hunters of the Tiber’), who forced the papal troops to surrender.

From this moment on, Orvieto enjoyed yet another phase of prosperity and development. In fact, during this period the first water-powered funicular was built at the behest of the mayor Bracci, electricity was introduced – thanks to the construction of the modern power station built by the engineer Netti – the first real city theatre was erected, designed by the architect Vespignani, and work began on the ‘ Fondazione del Museo Faina’. The activity of private individuals, together with contributions from national and European Parliaments have led, since the 20th century, to the implementation of the ‘Progetto Orvieto’, an ambitious program to rediscover and enhance Orvieto’s history and monuments and foster the redevelopment of the city, which has now become an important national and international tourist attraction.

Like any self-respecting Umbrian city, Orvieto boasts a thriving artisanal community that spans various sectors: from wrought iron to jewellery, leather and terracotta. Alongside these common handicrafts, there are also some outstanding arts that boast ancient origins and mastery that has been consolidated by years of experience and tradition. This is the case, for example, with the production of ceramics, which dates back to the Villanova civilisations, even pre-dating the Etruscans. The numerous ceramic remains found at ancient archaeological sites and the historical documentation on ceramic artists among the city’s guilds attest to the importance ceramic art has had for over three millennia. Even today, Orvieto ceramics stand out for their excellent workmanship and decorative innovation, made with enamel and in-glazed painting. Alongside this ancient tradition of ceramics there are two other, more recent but no less noteworthy craft activities: the production of Irish lace (merletto d’Irlanda) and wood carving.

In 1907, at the behest of the counts Eugenio and Claudio Faina, a patronage company called Ars Wetana was established, which had the objective of providing women with home-based work that would guarantee a small income without excessive effort. Claudia’s daughter, Maria Vittoria, was the first to obtain a small fund and, together with other women, she set up what later became one of the city’s iconic handicrafts, with original decorations that reproduce animals, flowers, plants and figures inspired by the bas-reliefs of Orvieto’s Duomo.

Wood carving and wood work is a typical handicraft found in many Umbrian cities, but in Orvieto the long tradition boasts a major exponent: Gualverio Michelangeli (1929-1986), who even had an alley (Vicolo) named after him where you can admire his masterpieces even today. From objects and ornaments to furniture for homes, Orvieto’s production of wooden artefacts will not fail to amaze you.

FOOD 

Although perched in a solitary fashion on the top of the cliff and separated from the valley below and the surrounding area, the city still boasts a rich Umbrian cuisine, with all its typical qualities and characteristics. Combined in a simple way, natural wholesome ingredients make Orvieto’s cuisine delicious and flavoursome. Healthy, genuine products from fertile, unspoilt land will ensure your meals are satisfying and memorable.

Given the lush vegetation that surrounds the city, game is predominant in local cuisine: quails, turtle doves, wood pigeons and ring doves are prepared in different ways, and there are numerous variations of the same recipe, so you’ll always find a new dish to satisfy your taste buds. Local produce is artfully transformed by the skill of local cooks, and while the names are bizarre and misleading, don’t let that put you off: taste the umbricelli (fresh handmade pasta), the lumachelle (pastries made with water, flour and cheese), the cicadas (fritters made with pumpkin flowers) and of course do not forget the typical ciambelloni all’anice and the frittelle di San Giuseppe (which you can find only on the Saint’s day, 19th March). Another typical dish, which certainly won’t disappoint the most demanding of palates, is the ‘gallina ubriaca’ (literally ‘drunken hen), a tasty chicken dish cooked in Orvieto’s unmistakeable wine, and don’t forget to seek out the very special Pera di Monteleone d’Orvieto, with its firm consistency and excellent nutritional properties. A unique dish that you won’t find anywhere else!

OIL AND WINE

Due to its charmed location and the fertility of the surrounding area, Orvieto boasts local products that are outstanding not only regionally, but also nationally. The region has been known for the quality of its wine since Etruscan times and the tradition has been preserved and modernised, earning DOC recognition. Variants available include Orvieto Classico, Classico Superiore and Rosso Orvietano. Although most production is of white wine, there are also various red and rosé wines. Some local wineries offer guided tours of the vineyards and wine tastings during most of the year.

Since 1997, with the establishment of DOP certification (Denominazione di Origine Protetta – Protected Designation of Origin) for extra virgin olive oil, Orvieto’s premium production has been included among the five sub-areas that differ in terms of soil, climate and agronomic practices: Colli di Assisi-Spoleto, Colli Martani, Colli Amerini, Colli del Trasimeno and Colli Orvietani. All the olive oils produced and recognised in the sub-denominations, are blends of different varieties of olives that confer unique or particular aromas and flavours to the individual productions. The extra virgin olive oil made in Orvieto is part of the ‘Colli Orvietani’ sub-area, from which it takes its name, and is made from a mixture of Moraiolo (15%), Frantoio (30%), Leccino (60%) and other varieties up to a total of 20%.

Orvieto is also the headquarters of the ‘Città Slow’ national circuit, heading a project that aims to safeguard and enhance genuine local cuisine. In addition to oil and wine, mention should be made of Svinnere, a liqueur made with sour wild cherries and Orvietan, a sweet drink that has healing properties – according to local tradition. It was invented by the native of Orvieto, Girolamo Ferrante and became famous for having cured King Louis XIV of France.

A city that is steeped in history, tradition and unparalleled architectural wonders, attracting tourists from all over the world throughout the year, could not fail to offer citizens and visitors a wide range of entertainment and cultural events. From religious commemorations to music, good food and sport, Orvieto offers a programme of initiatives that will delight and amaze.

In the period May-June, the famous feast of Corpus Domini is celebrated, with the fascinating procession of the relic of the Corporal linked to the ‘Miracle of the Blood’ of Bolsena and the historical procession that accompanies it, with participants in reproduction costumes and characters from the medieval period. At around the same time, on the day of Pentecost, Piazza del Duomo is filled with devotees for the festa della Palombella: a dove is flown from Via Maitani to a specially prepared canopy in front of the Duomo, to commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. On the same day, the entire city fills its balconies and terraces with flowers typical of the four city districts, on the occasion of the Orvieto in fiore event. On 15th August the population celebrates the patron saint of the city with the solemn feast of Santa Maria Assunta, while at Christmas, don’t miss out on the beautiful nativity scenes in the unique setting of the Pozzo della Cava, for the event called Presepe nel Pozzo.

If you want to nourish your body as well as your spirit, then Orvieto con Gusto (held in October) is for you: the festival’s gastronomic events offer an excellent opportunity to taste all the typical dishes and products of the city, while I Gelati d’Italia (April-May), is a real ice-cream Championship, with a flavour representing each region. In August, the Orvieto Folk Festival covers a broad range of interests and attractions in addition to music, from food and wine stands to local traditions. Equally unmissable are the other two musical events: Orvieto Music and Culture, where music is accompanied by theatre and other forms of art, and the very famous Umbria Jazz Winter, which has lit up the New Year celebrations in Orvieto for over 20 years, attracting jazz lovers, artists and visitors from every corner of the planet.

And this is not all, especially if you are a sports lover: on the Saturday before the festival of Corpus Domini, ten athletes from the city run a circuit of around 1 km around the Duomo for the Staffetta dei Quartieri, a sort of Relay Race between the Neighbourhoods. For those who prefer motorised races, the Cronoscalata della Castellana in May sees vintage and modern cars face off against each other at high speed on a route of about seven km on the winding road that leads from Ciconia to Orvieto, passing through Monte Peglia. Speed and adrenalin-fuelled fun is guaranteed!

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