Our route took us through the beautiful Tuscany, and further South to the Umbria, where we stopped for a night and sightseeing in Orvieto
Orvieto has ancient origins and was once an important Etruscan city. We explored remnants of this ancient civilization, such as the Etruscan necropolis known as Crocifisso del Tufo and the Etruscan Well, a remarkable engineering feat.
Orvieto offers a captivating blend of history, art, architecture, and natural beauty, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking a unique and enchanting experience in central Italy.
Every time I think: how can a city still be there on such friable rock after almost 2000 years with Etruscan civilization? And yet – it still is there Orvieto with their 8000 inhabitants
Riding on the highway from Florence to Rome, you can see a large butte of a volcanic tuff with the city of Orvieto on top.It is surrounded by a defensive wall build of the same stone called Tufa.
Orvieto’s historic center is a delight to wander through, with its charming narrow streets, medieval buildings, and well-preserved medieval walls. Piazza del Duomo, the main square, is a bustling hub with cafes, shops, and a lively atmosphere.
You’d need to leave the car in the valley below – the city is (almost) closed to traffic. A short escalator brings us to the valley station that was revived a few years ago. A somewhat wobbly cable car, I’ll be up in five minutes. At the top, near the remains of the old fortress, I walk through the picturesque “Corso Cavour”. For walking impaired there is a minibus that goes right up to the cathedral. A few meters from the cable car station, you will reach the ” Pozzo”, The” Pozzo di San Patrizio “, a 62 m deep well that was built for the Popes, and uniquely has two spiral staircases. The donkeys went one side up, and down the other side with water buckets. It was built by Antonio Da Sangallo d. J. on behalf of Pope Clement VII
The walk across the Corso may take 15 minutes, a view into a side street, where on the narrow balcony a cat enjoys the sun. On the right hand side of the grocer’s shop are the delicacies of the region: sausages, wine, vegetables, dried mushrooms in the fall, all sorts of sauces and pastries.
Orvieto is renowned for its white wine, known as Orvieto Classico. Produced from vineyards surrounding the city, this crisp and refreshing wine is made from a blend of different grape varieties and is highly regarded for its quality.
The Teatro can’t be missed of course, the Mohrenturm (Torre del Moro upper left) and the side street takes me towards the cathedral.
There are already a few souvenir shops, but immediately opens the narrow street to the wide cathedral square. In the late afternoon light shines the west-facing mosaic-strewn facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in the most beautiful light. In 1288, the construction, which today is considered the most beautiful Italian Gothic Cathedral (Dom) had begun.
The Orvieto Cathedral, or Duomo di Orvieto, is one of the most impressive cathedrals in Italy. It is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and features intricate details, beautiful frescoes, and a striking facade adorned with golden mosaics. Inside the cathedral, you can find the Chapel of San Brizio, which houses magnificent frescoes by Luca Signorelli.
Stand, look, marvel – then you go to the tourist office, just opposite the cathedral and buy an entrance ticket to the ” Capella Nuova ” in the Duomo: In 1447, Fra Angelico and his assistant Benozzo Gozzoli began painting the chapel, followed by Luca Signorelli, who was painting “The Last Judgment” here. Even the layman, the Kulturbanause, will be astonished, getting stiff-necked while looking at it – that’s pure art! In the opposite ” Capella del Corporale ” the Corpus Christi relics are kept. The church itself is simply furnished with beautiful alabaster windows and a remarkable baptismal font.
After all these impressions, I stroll left in front of the cathedral, past the cathedral museum, the local hospital, on a lookout terrace: a wide view over the landscape, just opposite is the abbey “Dei Santi Severo e Martirio”, first for the Benedictines, then for the Premonstratensians, then for the Cistercians, and these days used for weddings.
I have so many other sights left, and walk across the city. I want to go to the Trattoria “Le Grotte di Funaro” a Restaurant in Via Ripa Serafica, at the other end of town. There I descend into an ancient vault for an exceptional meal, that once was part of the city fortifications. Grotte di Funaro Restaurant
Underground Orvieto: The city has an extensive underground network of tunnels, caves, and wells that can be explored. These underground areas were originally used for various purposes, including storage, water collection, and as escape routes during sieges. Guided tours offer a fascinating glimpse into this subterranean world.
As one traveler once told me in an Italian town: “How can you spend so much time with lunch in so many palaces, churches, museums, and sculptures?” Because of the culture, I travel to Italy, not the food! ” Well, I disagree a bit – food is also the culture of a country. And looking can also be getting to know a country. All three features: Culture – Culinary -Dolce Far Niente – offers the true lover of Italy, and the city of Orvieto.