Orvieto – tuffa and a magnificent cathedral
Oh and now Orvieto. Despite that it was full of tourists when I was there (April 2008) I really liked the town. Maybe it was the location high on a tuffa plateau, maybe it was the very much contorted maze of streets or maybe it was the “underground”, because the whole town is hollowed out (or was by Etruscans and later continued by the locals).
I would set Orvieto very high on the list of a tour through Italy but looking back it was good that I have visited it at the end of my travel. Somehow it gave me the chance to arrive in reality, in a beautiful reality, just before I had to go back to catch my flight back home. The small villages in Italy’s middle regions have so much of a spiritual atmosphere that it would have been hard to come back into my daily world. It is difficult to describe (would be even in my native language) but anyone who has been there will understand what I mean.
But back to Orvieto. It is old, very old. Nearby once was one of the most important Etruscan settlements Fanum Voltumnae. Almost at the bottom of the northwestern part of the city, Necropoli Etrusca di Crocifisso is a magnificent witness of their burying habits, 3 € entrance fee (in April 2008), and should not be missed! There is a small room with excellent explanations of the tombs at its entrance.
But the most famous sight and why tourists come to Orvieto in herds is the magnificent Duomo. Ever since I saw a photo of its so beautiful façade I knew I must see it, as I adore mosaic work. And this one is a feast for the eyes indeed! Make sure you don’s only look at it but take minimum 30 minutes time to take in every little detail of it, from the magnificent mosaic pictures to the wonderfully pillars around the main and side entrance portals (photo 1); the main one is actually closed). Inside it is covered with wonderful frescoes, among them the very famous Last Judgement by Luca Signorelli. Breathtaking!!
And then the caves! The soft tuffa stone was ideal to be carved and almost the whole town has little and bigger caves beneath the houses, many of them connected and msot of them still in use. Two caves can actaully be visited, the one via a guided tour “Orvieto Underground” (ticket office is near the Duomo, entrance fee 5,50 €) and the other one is Pozzo della Cava in the western part of Orvieto, which I actually liked more, as it is filled with life and many explanations of the history of the caves. Entrance fee is 3 €.
The surrounding is also worth a visit, minimum one day. Civita di Bagnoregio is only 20 minutes to the south, and just south of Orvieto is a beautiful old Abbazia di La Badia, now a hotel, but possible to visit with most marvellous old frescoes.
And last but not least, Orvieto’s wine – the famous white Orvieto Classico. Very much delicious!!
Location of Orvieto on Google Maps.
nearest airport: Roma or Perugia
© Ingrid D., May 2009 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).