Known for stunning scenery, vineyards, and historical highlights, Orvieto is an Umbrian city perched on a rocky cliff. The town is awash with historical tokens, and there are so many things to do and see.
So, we have compiled a list of must-see attractions and answered some of the frequently asked questions so that you can make the most of your time in Orvieto.
Duomo di Orvieto
The main attraction in Orvieto, Duomo di Orvieto, is quite unlike any other church you see in Italy. Its prickly, beautiful façade is what sets it apart from other churches; the greatest artists at the time took great pains to make sure that the exterior of the church stands out in every way; it almost looks as if the church’s interior has been applied to the outside of the church.
Stained glass, beautiful mosaics, and sculptures are a few delightful details of the exterior. The church also serves as an example of Italian gothic architecture.
The history of the church can be traced back to 1290. The church was built to pay homage to the Miracle of Bolsena. The Cappella del San Brizio is the main highlight of the church, which brings to attention the frescoes done by Luca Signorelli.
Recommended reading: Fascinating Places To See in Italy
Orvieto Underground – Pozzo della Cava
Ancient inhabitants of Orvieto dug up passageways, tunnels, and caves in the rock the city sits on. Over the years, city gates, streets, and rooms started adding up. There are numerous wells and tombs and town gates, the oldest of which is Porta Maggiore.
Pozzo della Cava is a medieval quarter with rooms and a 36-metres deep well. The total number of tunnels, caves, and wells adds up to 1,200 – almost every residence in Orvieto has a tunnel underground.
To explore the Orvieto Underground, you should sign up for a tour – an array of hour-long tours is available.
St. Patrick’s Well – Pozzo di San Patrizio
Among the most remarkable underground creations of Orvieto is the 61 metres deep well called Pozzo di San Patrizio or St. Patrick’s Well. Two spiral, double-helix staircases can be found here; one was meant for climbing down and the other for climbing up.
The well was built during the Sack of Rome and commissioned by Pope Clement VII for the uninterrupted supply of water.
You can still climb down the hundreds of stairs to reach the bottom of the well.
Torre del Moro
The 40-metre tower overlooking the city, Torre del Moro, has a history going back to the 13th century. The tower became a cistern in the 1800s, and the clock was placed in 1876.
The beautiful scenery off the observation deck is the draw for tourists. There’s an elevator you can use to get halfway up, but you have to use the stairs for the rest of the journey.
Museo Claudio Faina
Located right in front of the Cathedral, Museo Claudio Faina houses an invaluable collection of treasures that go back to the prehistoric era. Most of the artefacts pertain to the Etruscan civilisation. There’s also a collection of 3,000 Roman coins. You also find an array of Greek artefacts here. The exhibits of the museum were sourced from excavations in the 1800s.
If you visit the museum, don’t forget to admire the view of the cathedral from the third floor.
Tombe Etrusche del Crocifisso del Tufo & Tombe Etrusche di Cannicella
Expertly carved tombs are one of the main highlights of Orvieto; there are two tombs you should see. Tombe Etrusche del Crocifisso del Tufo is below the northside of the town, and Tombe Etrusche di Cannicella is found in the southern part of the town.
With a history going back to the 5th and 6th centuries, these ancient tombs weave a fascinating and intriguing historical tale of the town.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale
To see Etruscan artefacts as well as recently discovered items, visit the National Archaeological Museum, Museo Archeologico Nazionale. There are five rooms full of Etruscan discoveries, many of which were buried in the tombs.
Il Labirinto di Adriano
This is a popular restaurant with a series of caves, passageways, and silos underground, which were discovered by the owners during the renovation of the property in the 1970s. The items now make up the excellent display you will see here. Moreover, guides will tell you how the ancients became skilled in building cisterns and wells.
To see the place, you need to book a tour.
Chiesa di Sant’Andrea
A 12th-century church with much of its interior and exterior intact, Chiesa di Sant’Andrea had much significance in the medieval era. Two popes were appointed here, but the present interest in the church stems from its 12-sided bell tower.
Although most of the original structural details are preserved, the church was renovated in later years; the stained glass and sculptures that you see on the portal were added in the later centuries.
Built in the mid-1300s, Fortezza dell’Albornoz is found on the premises of an Etruscan temple. The fort was commissioned by Spanish Cardinal Albornoz to protect the city. However, foreign invaders laid ruin to the tower later, but it was rebuilt in the 1400s with sturdier fortifications.
Today, you can only see a section of the fortress and the main tower standing picturesquely amidst lush greenery.
Palazzo del Popolo
This is a 13th-century palace with battlements and a remarkable façade. Once home to the Capitano del Popolo, the Captain of the People, Palazzo del Popolo is where outdoors markets are held on Thursdays and Saturdays. You can reach the crenellated upper part of the palace by a staircase.
The palace has served as a university, a conference hall, and a theatre. The cornices and the ground-floor arches are two of the most beautiful architectural details of the palace; these features can be found in other buildings in the city as well.
Visitors can choose from a diverse range of guided tours so that they can make the best of their time in Orvieto. These tours include opportunities to taste local food, sightsee, visit ancient churches, and everything else that Orvieto is known for!
Some tour companies also allow customized tours, and you can even sign up for a full-day tour from Rome. Private tours are an option too, but they cost more than group tours and need to be booked.
Some guided-tour experiences are listed below:
- Private Tour of Orvieto including Duomo
- Rome to Florence Luxury transfer with Orvieto & Assisi Tour and light lunch
- Orvieto Cathedral (Duomo) and City Walking Tour – Private Tour
Wine and Food Tastings
Join a guided tour to sample local wines and food.
Orvieto is aptly called the city of wine, and it would be a shame if you left Orvieto without tasting its legendary wines. The city is dotted with wineries equipped with both modern and traditional methods of making wine.
Other Attractions in Orvieto
If you have a bit more time left, here’s a list of other attractions you can visit:
- Bolsena – Hiking attraction
- Civita di Bagnoregio – Hiking attraction
- Castello Titignano – Hiking attraction
- Rocca Monaldeschi della Cervara – Hiking attraction
- Bolsena – Hiking attraction
- The Basilica of Santa Cristina – Hiking attraction
- Civitella del Lago – A scenic Italian village within the Umbrian region located 30-minutes from Orvieto
- Rovina La Roccaccia – Hiking attraction
- Lungolago Grotte di Castro – Gradoli – Mountain biking attraction
In addition to exploring the history and enjoying picturesque scenery, Orvieto offers you great shopping opportunities. There are several local shops that sell artisan items along with shopping malls.
- Lavanda Del Lago
- Il Negozietto
- Le Chic Di Silvia
- Ceramiche Bellocci
- La Corte Dei Miracoli
- Patrick Richmond Nicholas Gallery – To buy artwork
- Bottega Artigiana Polifemo Cuoio
Even though the city isn’t known for its nightlife, you can find a few good night spots here. There are clubs and pubs with live music. If you are one for dancing, you’ll find many opportunities.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Bottega Vera
- Il Vincaffè
- Blue Bar
- Baccaro Orvieto
- Caffe Barrique
Where to Eat in Orvieto?
Orvieto is one of the best places to sample authentic Italian cuisine. To sample delicious pasta, anise biscotti, and local meat, visit:
- Trattoria Vinosus
- Trattoria dell’Orso
- I Sette Consoli
- Le Grotte del Funaro
- Trattoria La Palomba
- Trattoria del Moro Aronne
- L’Antica Piazzetta
- Trattoria La Pergola
Costs Involved in Visiting Orvieto?
Orvieto isn’t an expensive tourist destination, and the city has introduced a tourist pass that lets you explore the main highlights. This is a prepaid card called Carta Orvieto Unica.
The card covers attractions like the Orvieto Underground and the San Brizio Chapel in the Duomo. You are also entitled to a set of services that includes guided tours to city attractions and transport.
There are two types of cards available: individual cards and group cards – student groups and the elderly get special discounts. A full individual ticket is priced at 25 Euros, while you can purchase the card online or at any of the sales centres in the city. The card has a validity period of one year.