Describing in a few lines the richness of Orvieto's landscape, architectural, historical-archaeological, artistic and engineering treasures is a difficult undertaking. To visit such a jewel of Umbria, an intense day of walks, museum visits and underground explorations will not be enough. The city will amaze you at every alley you walk along. In the large territory of a fertile valley crossed by the Tiber and Paglia rivers, the city of Orvieto rises above a base of volcanic tuff with a suggestive intense ocher color. At the center of which the Cathedral, a unique and extraordinary architectural work, makes the golden mosaics of its facade shine in the sunlight.
Characters with high-sounding names such as Luca Signorelli , Ippolito Scalza and Antonio da Sangallo have contributed to making the urban space a container of immense treasures from different eras. The popes themselves, starting from the sixteenth century, chose Orvieto as their seat. It was because of its strategic and fortified position. But this helped to transform it into an active cultural pole.
All this and much more is enclosed within the boundaries of the Rupe which houses the houses and streets of an old city of almost three millennia. Which, not being satisfied with the space available on the surface, has been able to create another self in the subsoil. With extraordinary architectural works that will leave anyone who ventures into the bowels of the earth speechless. Discover the enchanted atmosphere of Orvieto, which has also been able to keep up with the times. Becoming a destination for tourists and visitors for important social events of national and international resonance. Like the Umbria Jazz Winter.
A city where the ancient tradition of arts and crafts such as woodworking, ceramics and Irish lace, the ancient vestiges of past civilizations and finally the splendor of the artistic works of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, are perfectly integrated into a modern society. Still able to offer the genuineness of its products. Like Orvieto wine and extra virgin olive oil. Able to convey his devotion with the traditional feast of Corpus Domini. To enchant with the natural sceneries of an uncontaminated and airy landscape where the gaze is lost on the horizon. There are wonders that are difficult to tell with words. The only way to know them is to experience them and see them with your own eyes. Orvieto is one of them!
From the top of the tufaceous cliff that hosts it, Orvieto dominates the fertile valley below. It stands proud and majestic above the vineyards and the dense vegetation that surrounds it. Over three millennia of history have shaped the buildings, streets and squares of a city that has known several civilizations. Which was considered a real fortress for many years by the Popes themselves. For its natural conformation and extraordinary strategic position. What can still be admired today within the walls is a stratified urban reality, which preserves its nature as a defensive fortress intact.
You enter the historic center by crossing the old city gates. From Porta Soliana or della Rocca , Porta Maggiore or from the nineteenth-century Porta Romana . You will have the impression of entering an enchanted world that will amaze you at every corner. The first stop will be Piazza del Duomo . It will leave you speechless in front of the magnificence of an architectural work like the Duomo . Dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, a jewel of an unparalleled medieval Gothic art, a casket of artistic treasures such as the Last Judgment , painted by Luca Signorelli in the Chapel of S. Brizio or the precious reliquary in the Corporal Chapel.
Continuing this path to find out what to see in Orvieto, along Via Maitani you will arrive at Piazza Febei. An ancient inscription indicates it as "the highest point of the city". Here you can admire the Church of S. Francesco with its austere exterior appearance that contrasts with the valuable internal baroque decorations. Going up along via del Duomo you will find yourself in the heart of the city. At the intersection with the main street of Corso Cavour.
Here there are the Palazzo dei Sette, so called because it was the seat of the Seven Magistrates representing the guilds of arts and crafts in the city, and the extraordinary Torre del Moro. From its summit, about fifty meters high, you can contemplate with your eyes the whole of Orvieto and the valley it dominates. Along Corso Cavour, you will have to sharpen your sight. In fact, at each side street, architectural jewels from different eras will be presented to your eyes.
On the western side you will come to another city center: Piazza della Repubblica . On which stands the Town Hall , still today the seat of the Municipality. Its elegant forms are the work of illustrious architects such as Sangallo and Ippolito Scalza . To the side of the civil building, the Church of S. Andrea and the monumental dodecagonal bell tower stand out. A short distance away you will still find a treasure. At via della Cava, you can in fact admire the Pozzo della Cava . One of the admirable works of hydraulic engineering of which Orvieto is rich. Then you get to the Church of S. Giovenale , perhaps the oldest in the city.
Moving towards the east, you will arrive at the third and last city pole: Piazza del Popolo . Architecturally framed by the beautiful Palazzo del Popolo . The ancient seat of the Capitano del Popolo in the Middle Ages which today is an elegant Congress Center. At this point you just have to reach the end of the cliff. Stop to admire the nineteenth-century Mancinelli Theater . It was built at the behest of the citizens of Orvieto on a project by the architect Vespignani .
At the end of the street you will be fascinated by the city public gardens, inserted within the walls of the ancient Albornoz Fortress . Where you can still lose yourself in the evocative atmosphere of the famousSt. Patrick's Well . Wanted by Pope Clement VII in the sixteenth century. Or dive into an older past with the archaeological remains of the Etruscan Temple of the Belvedere . They are admirably preserved and accessible not far from Piazza Cahen.
In short, organize your time well to find out what to see in Orvieto. The city is a mine of hidden treasures that deserve to be discovered and admired.
This text is courtesy of Exploring Umbria. Visit their website for more information about the sights of Orvieto, and many other Umbrian towns, including information about tours, hotels, history, shopping and much more.