Only one hour by train from Rome, the hilltop town of Orvieto is an ideal candidate for both a day trip or a longer getaway. Just across from the train station a funicular takes you up the steep cliff side where you alight at the top ready to stroll about the old town of Orvieto.
I spent three days in lower Orvieto myself at a relaxing agriturismo situated right at the base of the cliff.
Whether you’re spending one idyllic day or more, these are the don’t miss highlights of lovely Orvieto.
Duomo Di Orvieto:
Groundbreaking for the cathedral of Orvieto took place in 1290 and it took almost 300 years to complete construction. The gothic facade with its intricate carvings and mosaics is lovely. Inside are two beautiful frescoed chapels: the Chapel of the Corporale and the Chapel of San Brizio.
Opera del Duomo Museum:
A very tiny museum with art relics from the cathedral. While there is very little to see, it also takes very little energy and time to see it. It’s located right next to the Duomo and the National Archeological Museum and the entrance price is most likely included in your ticket to the Duomo (so remember to keep your ticket.) Stroll in, stroll out, I was there maybe 15 minutes.
Claudio Faina Etruscan Museum:
This museum houses a large collection of coins, mostly Roman. It also contains an extensive vase collection, most of which came from the nearby Crocifisso del Tufo Necropolis. The museum features some interesting information on the different types of vases that are displayed.
National Archaeological Museum of Orvieto:
Aside from a few minor drawbacks this museum was exceptional. One of the best Etruscan museums I visited. The integration between the artifacts in the displays and where they came from was appreciated. While it certainly could have taken the integration much further, the amount that was achieved was a big plus.
This museum also had a lot of English translations which I was grateful for. Although it should be noted there were a couple key areas that had none at all, like the rooms with the two relocated tomb paintings. Even though my Italian is not very good, I’m pretty sure the sign said the tomb frescoes were moved to the museum because of rapid deterioration and are from Porano, which is extremely close to Orvieto.
This is the location of the remains of a fortress with a great tower overlooking the old entrance to the city. The moat and drawbridge may be gone but several walls and battlements are still standing and can be walked along. Built in 1364 it was soon destroyed during internal struggles within the city and then rebuilt in 1527. There is now a small park inside the fortress.
Ruins of the Etruscan Temple of Belvedere:
The ruins are located near the Fortress Albornoz and across from the Funicular’s cliff top station. The foundation of the ancient Etruscan Temple is all that remains to be seen, but its close proximity to the fortress battlements and Funicular station make it an easy and worthwhile stop. A visit here should be combined with the Archaeological Museum which houses the excavated terracotta temple decorations that were found here.
This is a guided tour through underground Ancient Etruscan and later Medieval tunnels.
Pozzo della Cava:
A second, separate underground tour of man made caverns. This tour is centered around a newly discovered Etruscan well.
Crocifisso del Tufo Necropolis:
While not nearly as large as the Necropolis in Cerveteri, the Necropolis in Orvieto was still really cool. It had a unique feature not seen at Cerveteri, that of Etruscan writing inscribed above the tomb entrances. Although that might not seem quite so awesome to everyone.
If staying longer than one day…
Anello Della Rupe:
This is a trail along the circumference of Orvieto’s cliff top town. This trail was more rigorous than I had anticipated. There was more than one somewhat drastic change in elevation. The trail is also a little hard to follow at times, as it changes from cobblestone to dirt path and back again. But it was very pretty and peaceful and part of the trail will take you from the cliff top down to the necropolis.
Take an electric bike tour around Orvieto or bike further afield from Orvieto to Civita Di Bagnoregio.