Perched on a rock cliff, the enchanting city of Orvieto offers a panorama of terracotta rooftops amidst the rolling green landscape of Italy’s Umbria region. With its vibrant history, charming medieval streets, and heavenly cuisine, Orvieto is a captivating blend of culture, art, nature, and gastronomy. Its hilltop location may have been originally chosen for strategic reasons, but today, it provides visitors with breathtaking vistas that add to the city’s magic.
In this medieval city, history seeps from every stone, and traditions passed down through generations are alive in every corner. From the stunning black and white striped Duomo, an architectural masterpiece that dominates the skyline, to the mysterious underground city, there is an abundance of sightseeing treasures to be discovered.
In this guide, we have curated the top 10 experiences you should not miss while in Orvieto, taking you on a journey through time and allowing you to live the authentic Italian ‘la dolce vita.’ Whether you are a history buff, a food connoisseur, a wine enthusiast, or simply a lover of beautiful landscapes, Orvieto has something to enthrall you. So, let’s embark on this unforgettable adventure and uncover the best of what Orvieto has to offer.
Absolutely, here’s a list of the top 10 things to do and see when you visit the charming hilltop town of Orvieto, Italy:
1. Duomo di Orvieto: This 14th-century cathedral is renowned for its stunning façade adorned with mosaics and sculptures, and the breathtaking frescoes inside, particularly in the San Brizio Chapel.
2. Pozzo di San Patrizio: Known as St. Patrick’s Well, this is a remarkable piece of engineering with a double spiral staircase. Descend into this fascinating well for a unique experience.
3. Orvieto Underground: Discover the network of caves, tunnels, and galleries carved into the tufa rock beneath the town, highlighting Orvieto’s Etruscan origins.
4. Torre del Moro: Climb up this 13th-century tower for panoramic views of Orvieto and the surrounding Umbrian countryside.
5. Piazza del Popolo: Spend time in this spacious square, the political and social heart of Orvieto. The surrounding buildings include the Palazzo del Popolo and the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, both dating back to the 13th century.
6. Museo Claudio Faina e Civico: This museum houses an extensive collection of Etruscan artifacts, providing a deeper understanding of the area’s ancient history.
7. Wine Tasting at Local Vineyards: Orvieto is renowned for its white wines. Visit a local vineyard or enoteca (wine bar) to sample the regional varietals, especially Orvieto Classico.
8. Museo Emilio Greco: Visit this museum to appreciate the works of the modern sculptor and artist Emilio Greco, including his stunning bronze doors for the Duomo.
9. Take a Cooking Class: Enroll in a cooking class and learn to prepare traditional Umbrian dishes. It’s a fun, hands-on way to engage with the local culture.
10. Enjoy Local Cuisine: Orvieto’s culinary scene is rich with regional specialties like wild boar, truffles, and umbricelli pasta. Dine at local restaurants to savor the authentic flavors of Umbria.
These are just a few highlights of the many attractions you’ll find in Orvieto, a city where centuries of history blend seamlessly with vibrant local culture.
Most popular excursions to do in Orvieto
Here are the 10 most popular excursions to do in Orvieto, ranked by popularity:
1. Rome: Assisi and Orvieto Day Tour – Discover Assisi and Orvieto on this guided full-day trip. Visit the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, see the gothic architecture of Orvieto, and more. Price: From US$ 374.29.
2. Orvieto: 2-Hour Cathedral and Underground Tour – Take your time to be amazed by the facade of Orvieto’s Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Learn about the spectacular Signorelli’s frescoes and feel inspired as Michelangelo did five centuries ago. Price: From US$ 129.07.
3. Orvieto & Civita di Bagnoregio Private Tour from Rome – Enjoy a scenic drive and visit of Orvieto and Civita built on top of a plateau of tufa stone. You’ll have time to walk around, visit the villages, time for pictures and lunch at local place. Price: From US$ 1021.78.
4. Orvieto: Private Walking Tour with the Cathedral of Orvieto – Enjoy a walking tour of Orvieto and let yourself be carried away by the frescos in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Follow your guide to the Pozzo di San Patrizio well and to the Torre del Moro tower. Price: From US$ 123.69.
5. Orvieto: Guided Walking Tour of Underground Orvieto – Discover the hidden jewel of the Umbrian region and its best side: under the surface. Join a small group in a guided visit to two masterpieces of the underground town: Pozzo della Cava and St. Patrick’s Well. Price: From US$ 118.31.
6. Todi: 2-Hour Private Walking Tour – The historic center of Todi reflects the wealth and prosperity of this lovely town in the Middle Ages. With this tour, you will explore the city center focusing on the famous central square closed on one side by the Cathedral of Saint Mary. Price: From US$ 209.73.
7. Orvieto & Civita di Bagnoregio: Private E-Bike Tour – Explore the countryside on the outskirts of Rome on a 14-hour bike tour of the Tiber Valley, passing the north of Lazio and the southern tip of Umbria. Cycle to the “dying” town of Civita di Bagnoreggio, see Orvieto’s magnificent cathedral, and much more. Price: From US$ 443.67.
8. Orvieto: Private Walking Tour w/ a Local – Discover more than 2,500 years of Italian history on a private, 2-hour walking tour of Orvieto. Price: From US$ 209.73.
9. Assisi and Orvieto Full-Day Excursion from Rome – Enjoy a day trip to Assisi and Orvieto from Rome. You’ll have a guided walking tour of Assisi in Umbria, learning about its Patron, St. Francis, and visiting the Convent of Santa Chiara. In the afternoon you’ll see Orvieto’s stunning Gothic cathedral. Price: From US$ 245.23.
10. From Rome: Full-Day Assisi & Orvieto Semiprivate Tour – Visit the historic center of Assisi on a full-day tour from Rome, and learn the story of its patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi. Go to the Convent of Santa Chiara and continue through the countryside of Umbria Orvieto to admire the Gothic cathedral. Price: From US$ 277.49.
Our best tips and advices for visting Orvieto
Great! Here are some of the best tips and advice for your visit to Orvieto:
1. Best Time to Visit: The best times to visit Orvieto are during spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). The weather during these periods is generally pleasant, and the city is less crowded compared to the summer months.
2. Getting There and Around: Orvieto is well-connected by train from Rome and Florence, making it a perfect day trip. However, to fully experience the town, consider staying overnight. Once there, the town is compact and easy to navigate on foot. There is also a funicular that connects the lower town with the upper, hilltop part of Orvieto.
3. Dress Modestly: Orvieto, like many Italian towns, has several religious sites, including the stunning Duomo di Orvieto. It’s advisable to dress modestly (covering shoulders and knees) when visiting these places.
4. Try Local Cuisine: Orvieto’s cuisine is rich and varied. Be sure to try dishes like ‘umbricelli’ (hand-rolled pasta) in a truffle sauce, wild boar, and local cheeses. Also, don’t forget to enjoy Orvieto’s white wines.
5. Shop for Local Crafts: Orvieto has a strong tradition of ceramics. Look out for the colorful, hand-painted ceramics that make for great souvenirs or gifts.
6. Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour of the city. Local guides can provide a wealth of information about Orvieto’s history, architecture, and culture that you might miss otherwise.
7. Early Mornings and Late Evenings: These are the best times to explore the city. The soft light of the early morning or late evening makes the town particularly enchanting, and you’ll avoid the larger crowds of tourists.
8. Stay Hydrated: Especially in the summer months, temperatures can rise, so carry water with you and stay hydrated.
9. Respect the Siesta: Like much of Italy, Orvieto observes the afternoon rest period or ‘riposo’. Many shops close in the afternoon, usually from around 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, so plan your shopping or visits accordingly.
10. Purchase a Carta Unica: This tourist card gives you access to several of Orvieto’s main attractions for a single price, which can be more economical than buying individual tickets.
Remember, the charm of Orvieto lies not just in its landmarks but also in its cobbled streets, small piazzas, and the daily life of its people. So take your time to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere. Buon viaggio!