About an hour from Rome lies a beautiful city of Orvieto in Umbria, a perfect destination for a custom Italy vacation.
Perched on dramatic volcanic rock cliffs, Orvieto overlooks Umbrian green hills and valleys. The old historic center of the city is pedestrianized and can be reached on foot or via very efficient funicular railway built in the 19th century (it has been modernized since, so fear not!). The old part of Orvieto is packed with stunning old palaces, beautiful churches, and charming streets to keep you amused during your stay. The pride of the city is its 14th century cathedral, Il Duomo, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful in Italy. Walk around the church to admire the striped exterior in white travertine and black basalt, golden mosaics and three huge bronze doors. Inside there are spectacular stained glass windows and frescoes created by some of the best Italian masters between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Apart from the beautiful medieval Palazzo del Popolo and Palazzo Comunale, Orvieto boasts a large number of Renaissance palaces built by the local noble families. Imposing facades, opulent interiors, frescoed ceilings and walls have been beautifully preserved in Palazzo Monaldeschi, Palazzo Ottaviani, Palazzo Crispo Marsciano, Palazzo Simoncelli and many others.
The origins of Orvieto go back to Etruscan times. The Civic Archaeological Museum has an excellent collection of ancient artefacts found in the area. You do not need to be a history buff to enjoy some of the city’s Etruscan sites: the necropolis “Crocifisso del Tufo” and Belvedere Temple. Make sure you visit the underground Parco delle Grotte with its Etruscan and medieval caves where you will see remains of an olive press, impressive Etruscan well shafts, and dovecotes. For outdoorsy types there is 3 miles walk that runs along the perimeter of Orvieto with stunning vistas, interesting archaeological sites and a cave with fossils of prehistoric trees.
After all those activities, you might want to refuel and you will be spoiled for choice. Make sure to sample the city’s famous white wine and hand-made pasta with truffles.
Photos by: Raffaele Birnardo, Riccardo Cuppini, Jens Hoffmann.