Orvieto is another lovely hilltown in Umbria. Some people opt to take a day trip to Orvieto when they are in the region while others make it as one of their bases in Umbria like we did.
We stayed two nights in a beautiful agriturismo Cioccoleta that afford us beautiful views of the Umbrian countryside when we woke up each morning – dusky mist giving part cover to the tumbling green hills and valleys that framed a mystical, magical picture.
We intended to spend just half a day in Orvieto before heading to Civita di Bagnoregio (a hilltop Etruscan small town). We never got to Civita. Time seemed to fly by while we were at Orvieto.
We walked from towards the Duomo that dominates the town (it is impossible to miss it). The Duomo is influenced by both Romanesque and Gothic elements. Its ornate facade is decorated with mosaics, bas-reliefs and its punctuated with bright colours with gold elements that seem to glow as it reflects the sunlight. I could spend a few hours admiring its beauty.
In contrast to its striking facade, the Duomo’s interior is very spartan and is supported by black and white stripped cylindrical columns. You should not miss out the Chapel of San Brizo. The frescoes in the Chapel of San Brizo is considered one of the best representations of the renaissance style of painting. In this small room, you would find brilliant colours of biblical scenes of judgement day and the end of the world.
After visiting the duomo, we went to a gelato shop near the exit of the Duomo to indulge in some really good gelato. It did lighten up the mood after a sombre visit to the Duomo.
We headed to get tour tickets to the Orvieto Underground from the tourist office opposite the main entrance of the Duomo. Our tour guide picked us up from the tourist office and we walked to the two caves from there.
The tour was pretty short – about 45 minutes but it was fun and informative. We were taken to view the two caves in Orvieto that are currently open to the public. There are thousands of hand dug caves (From volcanic soil) that still exist from the Etruscan and medieval times. The guide explained how these caves are mostly private ones and are most often used as basements by the inhabitants to store food, house pigeons etc. We spotted many cats (all very docile and adorable) just at the exit of the caves, it was also a spot with a good view where you can see a castle (that has since been converted to a hotel) nestled in the valley.
We were famished after all the walking and settled down for lunch at I Setto Consoli, a restaurant that I would readily recommend if you are in Orvieto. They serve very good food. They say that when you are in Orvieto, you have to try the pigeon. The roasted pigeon here is excellent – perfectly crispy skin and tender and well-seasoned meat. It was served with its on jus and on a bed of roasted leeks.
The seasonal white truffle handmade pasta was lovely too. White truffle is shaved onto the egg noodles – very simple but elegant.
The rest of the afternoon flew by with us wandering around this little town of Orvieto shopping for keepsakes and handcrafted products and bought a bottle of Calcaia Barberani Orvieto Classico dessert wine (rated 93 points by Robert Parker on Wine Advocate).
Before the sun began to set, we drove off to a place with one of the best views of Orvieto and its domineering duomo. ( I can’t remember the name of this view point but it is just a couple of km off Orvieto town. You can check with the tourist information when you get there.)
I say it’s a pretty darn good to end the day watching the setting sun on the face of Orvieto, aint it?
Duomo di Orvieto
Piazza del Duomo, Orvieto, Italy
Orvieta’s magnificent Duomo is a must-see for its beautiful gold Gothic façade and magnificent frescoes by Luca Signorelli.
There are more than 2,500 caves in Orvieto and only two are opened to the public. The only way to see it is to go go on a guided tour.
Tickets for tour is bought at the tourist office right at Piazza del Duomo
I would recommend going for the tour (in English). It is short, 45 minutes, but informative on how the caves are used by the locals.
Piazza del Duomo, 14, Orvieto, Italy
I Sette Consoli
Via Sant’Angelo, 1, Orvieto, Umbria 05018, IT (located in the historical center of Orvieto , in Piazza Sant’Angelo overlooking Corso Cavour)
Tel: 0763 343911
Try Barberani Orvieto Classico Superiore Calcaia Dolce wine
a honey coloured dessert wine that is very smooth and rounded on the palate with apricot and floral notes. Also, rated 93 points by Robert Parker in Wine Advocate. Check out Barberani.
Indirizzo: Via Garibaldi 27 – Orvieto (TR)
Tel. (+39) 331.8657779
Artisan handmade leather goods of very high quality. Made-to-measure artisan shoes for men can be done in this shop. It takes about 2 months for a pair to be completed. They do shipping. Otherwise, you can pick up some handmade leather bags and accessories. I did quite a bit of shopping here.
Driving and Parking
Follow signs to Orvieto and then to Campo della Fiera where there’s a large covered parking lot. Elevators and escalators connect the parking lot and lower town to the historic centre above.