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Orvieto, Umbria

Orvieto

Cities and Towns in Umbria

Orvieto is a beautiful hill-top town in the region of Umbria, located about 1.15 minutes north of Rome.  The town is perched on a rock plateau approximately 300 metres above the ground which rises like an abyss almost out of the valley below.  In fact, it looks like a vision when approaching it from any direction.
 
Precariously balanced on the edge of the cliff, it commands an inspiring views of the local farmhouses, monasteries and vineyards below. After riding the funicular (inclined railway) from the base to the top, it is hard to imagine that hundreds of years ago the only way up was on the back of a donkey or on foot because as you will see when you get here, it is really, really high up over the valley and there is SO very much to see here and while you may not be able to spend a few days here, make sure to make Orvieto a stop to make if you are in the area and for many coming to Italy we advise either picking up or dropping off a car here en-route south or en-route north. However, Orvieto also makes a great town to experience and stay in and enjoy day tips from.  
 
Once at the top, you will marvel at the incredible feats of human determination and religious aspiration that created one of Italy’s finest Romanesque –Gothic cathedrals, Il Duomo. Started in 1263 and completed some 200 years later, its spectacular coloured façade glistens in the sun along with detailed carvings depicting the Old and New Testament.  
 
To really appreciate the splendor of Orvieto’s location, meander further down the western part of town to the church of San Giovenale , where you will be rewarded with expansive views over the surrounding countryside. The church too, offers its own gifts with beautifully detailed and numerous frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries. 
 
But the mystery of Orvieto continues well below the surface of its tufa rock. The cliff on which the city stands is riddled with a labyrinth of artificial tunnels, galleries, cisterns, quarries and cellars. One such antiquity is Saint Patrick’s Well ( Pozzo di san Patrizio) which was built between 1527-1537  to provide the town with a water supply in case of attack. It is famous for it’s double helix (corkscrew) stair case. If you have the stamina, you can walk 60 meters down the well via a 248-step staircase and come back up a separate staircase without retracing your steps.  
 
Another worthwhile, guided visit enables you to fully appreciate this unique underground world by exploring the caves of Orvieto. The microclimate of the caves made it possible for locals to preserve both their food and beverage provisions, including wine. Orvieto Classico is still recognised as one of Italy’s finest white wines.
 
Orvieto’s locals are also renowned for their art and ceramics, which are as much a part of their heritage as their cathedral.  At the beginning of the 6th century, Orvieto’s economic prosperity was largely due to its ceramics and bronze work. Today, Orvieto’s economy is still dependent on tourist demand for it’s pottery. Their hand-painted handicrafts include ceramic plates, bowls, cups even candle stick holders, all made in either traditional or modern designs. 
 
If ceramics are not your thing, then wander through the tiny medieval shops and discover contemporary hand made jewelry, leather work, woodcarvings and the traditional lace of Orvieto.  During summer, when the shops stay open late, the streets of Orvieto are often adorned with paintings hanging from walls  or sculptures standing next to lampposts. Such artistic colour simply adds to the charm of this wonderful, unique town. 
 
But summer is not the only time to visit. In December and January, Orvieto hosts Umbria Jazz Winter. During the five days, world-renowned musicians showcase their music in palaces, theatres, museums and restaurants.  
 
Orvieto, seemingly perched far above the everyday world, has in fact so much to offer. Whether you are drawn in by the music, the arts, history or gastronomy, Orvieto offers a spectacular retreat.

 

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Civita di Bagnoreggio and Orvieto from either Florence or Rome

This is a wonderful tour for those to consider who want to go from Rome to Florence or vice versa. With stops en-route in 2 incredible towns, Civita di Bagnoreggion and Orvieto, the tour is a convenient way to see some of Italy's most ancient Etruscan settlements and enjoy wonderful photo opportunities with an English speaking driver guide who can show you the best of the area in comfort and style.

 

Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini Orvieto, Umbria

The Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini is lovingly restored ancient palace that was the home of Pope Enea Silvio PIccolomini, Papa Pio II created for the pontifical family Piccolomini at the end of the 16th century. Today, the ancient palace welcomes visitors to Umbria in a refined and tasteful setting in the heart of the ancient town of Orvieto.

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