Perched atop a dramatic clifftop of ancient volcanic rock, with the Umbrian countryside sprawling in all directions below, Orvieto is everything an Italian hill town should be; quiet and peaceful, with shady, jasmine-scented cafés and squares just waiting for you to take a seat and soak up the atmosphere. Or if it’s too hot out, you could make like a rabbit and explore the underground warren of medieval tunnels carved into the volcanic hillside. The zebra striped cathedral is an absolute must too.
- Explore the intriguing underground world, carved into the hillside
- Sample the local wine
- We dare you to climb from the new town to the old town - you'll enjoy the view from the top even more!
Get ready for an unexpected treat! This absolute beauty of a cathedral dates from the 13th century and looks like nothing you’ve ever seen before, with its black and white stripes and intricate façade towering over the main square. It’s so enormous that you can spend an hour just staring up at it; and it’s a challenge to get the entire thing in one photo! The outside is awesome enough, but make sure to check out the impressive Signorelli frescoes inside, which are said to have inspired Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.
2. Orvieto Caves
Beginning during the rule of the Etruscans and continuing through the Medieval Ages, locals carved dwellings, cellars, wells and tunnels into the soft volcanic tufa on which Orvieto is built. The underground city became a safe haven in years of strife and this, coupled with the town’s position atop a hill, made it quite an impregnable fortress. For this reason, several Popes throughout the Middle Ages sought refuge here, making Orvieto one of only three towns in the world that could call themselves an official Papal residence. You can take regular tours through the Underground City.
3. St Patrick's Well
In case Orvieto ever came under siege from enemies (and it did!), it needed a source of water, so in the 16th century, Pope Clement VII commissioned a well to be built, reaching 60 metres into the earth. You can walk down into this architectural masterpiece via two special helix style staircases that were designed for pack animals to climb down and collect water.
4. Torre del Moro
Once you climb the 250 steps of the 47-metre high tower you are greeted with sweeping views of the city.
5. La Rocca / Fortress of Albronoz
Standing at the edge of Old Town you’ll find the old 14th century rock fortress which is now part of a public garden. From here you can get great views over the Umbria countryside.
1. L'oste del Rél
This little restaurant is right at the top of Corso Cavour around the corner from the Duomo. You can sit at tables outside and people-watch while chowing down on a delicious porchetta sandwich (a local specialty of sliced wild boar).
2. Cantina Foresti
A lovely little restaurant and wine bar with a reasonably priced lunch menu and wine tasting. You can also visit their wine cellar that was part of the Etruscans cave home back in the 9th century BC!
3. Weekly Market
Every Thursday and Saturday there is a farmer’s market in the Piazza del Popolo that sells local produce and souvenirs. Pick up some meat and cheese, maybe a bottle of local Classico wine and head for a picnic in the park.
4. Le Grotte
Le Grotte del Funaro is a romantic setting in an underground cave, serving up traditional Umbrian dishes such as truffle ricotta-filled ravioli and braised Chianina beef.
5. Gelateria Pasqualetti
On a hot summer’s day, a visit to this gelataria will cool you down. They have many varieties of mouth-watering gelato and tables outside so you can gaze at the Duomo whilst munching on your gelato.
1. Drink Wine!
The town of Orvieto lies on the Etrusco-Roman Wine Trail where wine has been made for over 2500 years. There are some fantastic white wines to be had, including Orvieto DOC and Orvieto Classico DOC. Some wineries produce red wine too; such as Rosso Orvietano DOC and Lago di Corbara DOC. There are plenty of wine shops around where you can pick up a bargain in store, but for something a little different, why not head to Enoteca Regionale and do a guided tour where you will get tastings of local wines.
2. Blue Bar
A great bar with warm service and tasty cocktails. You might get lucky and the owner will be working, singing classic tunes and getting everyone to sing along.
Click the coloured pins to find out how to get here
Relax, open your book, eat a little too much at lunch and have that extra glass of local wine. Orvieto isn’t in a hurry."