"Orvieto: Ancient Hilltown Close To Rome: 2013" Top 5 Page for this destination Orvieto by TooTallFinn24
Orvieto Travel Guide: 217 reviews and 756 photos
Spread out like frosting on a warm cake Orvieto spreads itself upon a plateau of ancient tufa. I was enchanted and delighted by the town of Orvieto. It was also the last stop on a 3 1/2 week late spring tour of Italy. It is a delight to walk the old town on the plateau above the new town and take in its many wondrous sites Then to walk on the Anelo del Rupe around the city gave me an entirely different perspective of this beautiful city. Because it sits on an approximate 1000 foot dome of tuft it can be viewed for miles away making for impressive photos. . Several vantage points within the City offer superb views of the surrounding town as well as other hill towns and castles nearby.
Of all; the cities and villages we saw in Italy this is the place I felt most at home with. In part it was because of the flawless accommodations at the Villa Degli Ulivi but it also had to do with the people we met. Aside from the train station everyone we came into contact with was friendly, warm and helpful. The town is clean and uncrowded. Life seemed to move just much slower there than other places in Italy. Somewhat surprising considering the town is roughly a 100 or so km from Rome. Cost wise it was only about 60% of what we paid for an equivalent room in Rome making it a bargain as well. All and all I felt totally relaxed even if these were next to the last three days of a twenty five day Italian visit.
In my brief three days and two nights in Orvieto I noted a number of things that set it apart from some of the other Umbrian and Tuscan hill towns. The city's downtown is located entirely on the plateau above the City. Nearly all commerce takes place here. It does not spill down into the community nearly 1000 vertical feet below. Orvietans have their own unique dialect that is very distinctive from adjacent towns. As one walks around the downtown you can hear several older men speaking in a different dialect that is totally unique from other surrounding areas. Finally, unlike other hillside towns that depend almost exclusively on tourism, Orvieto has many commercial and industrial centers that are providing employment opportunities for its people aside from the tourist industry. Finally, Orvieto is a simple 70 minute train ride from Rome making it easy for day trippers.
Ok I am usually not a fan of hearing histories of communities in VT summaries. However Orvieto is such a fascinating place please allow me to share a little history about this place.Orvieto has played a commanding role in several ancient civilizations. Beginning in about 900 B.C. the city was settled by the Etruscans. Finds by archaeologists indicate that an area below the cliffs was the "Fanum Volumnae" or the spiritual center of all the Etruscan faith. It was also the political center and folk from the 12 adjacent cities would come to Orvieto for important meetings. Orvieto remained under the control of the Etruscans until about 300 BC.
The Romans took control of the city in the mid 3rd century BC and forced all Etruscans to flee. Orvieto was converted into a farming and wine producing area to supply food for Rome. They built few buildings and left relatively few traces of their presence.
In the Middle Ages Orvieto was blessed with great wealth and expansion. The city was transformed into a city-state and controlled much of the surrounding area.
In the 17th and early 18th century, Orvieto modern day old town landscape was blessed with the construction of several major buildings. The Albornoz Fortress, many churches and several Renaissance palaces were constructed.
The 18th and 19th century saw much renewal in the old city. The infrastructure of the City was improved, better streets constructed and in 1866 the current day Funicolare was added.
Today Orvieto is a thriving city of just over 21,000 residents. The City can be thought of as being comprised of four districts or quarter including; Corsica; Serancia, Santa Maria Della Stella, and Olmo. . The main road that runs through the entire old town is named Corso Cavour. It also divides the two main squares; Piazza Cahen and Piazza della Repubblica.
As with most other Italian hill towns walking the streets with steep ascents and descents can be enduring. Some streets are so narrow that they can barely fit a car going one way while providing for pedestrian access. The best time we found to visit Orvieto was early in the morning before most of the tourists descended on the town. However if walking in the town becomes too crowded or the streets too steep there is always the fantastic Anello del Rupe which runs below the old town. Five kilometers long it is full of walkers, joggers and tourists.
Here is a list of some of the things we saw or observed in Orvieto in three days and two nights. Links to follow in a few days;
Orvieto Duomo- one of the prettiest duomos in Italy. Definitely see it.
Albornoz Fortress; Great view and relaxing place to rest
Pozzo di San Patrizio- Steep ascent to ancient well
Orvieto Underground- Fascinating series of caves and passageways
Anello del Rupe- beautiful walk around the City with much to see
Teatro Macinelli- Gorgeous performing arts center with super frescos
Museo Civico- nice city historical and archaeological museum
Many Romanesque and Gothic style churches in town.
The town of Orvieto is situated among many wonderful regional attractions. Within a short bus ride or drive you can visit the magical city of Civita that almost stands on its own in the clouds. In addition, there is beautiful Lake Bolsena, the Park of Monsters in Bomarzo, and the charming village of Todi. I have provided very brief summaries of each of these places and a full series of pages on Civita is forthcoming.
For a great place to stay that will make Orvieto even more wonderful please see my review on the Villa degli Ulivi and contact them directly at email@example.com
- Pros:Beautiful Anceint City,Friendly Residents and Uncrowded
- Cons:Somewhat Limited Restaurants
- In a nutshell:Worth A Few Days To See the Town and the Surrounding Area
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