Are you planning to travel to Italy† Then you should definitely visit Orvieto in Umbria. This picturesque town has much more to offer than just fresh pizza and delicious wine. However, you have no idea what there is to do in this town? No worries! In this blog article you will discover the top 5 unique sights in Orvieto that you should definitely visit bucketlist. must put!
From steaming plates of pasta and live jazz bands in museums, to bleeding hosts and brothel stairs towards purgatory, Orvieto has it all!
Also read: 2 months of traveling through Italy: our absolute highlights
Table of contents
Top 5 attractions in Orvieto
5. Necropoli del Crocifisso del Tufo
At number five, but certainly not a boring sight in Orvieto, is the necropoli del Crocifisso del Tufo.
This necropolis is located at the foot of the cliff on which the city is built. She is a remnant of the Etruscan population to which the city owes its origin. The name of the necropoli refers to the crucifix or crucifix which is engraved on the inside of a tufa chapel carved into the rock on which Orvieto stands.
The Etruscans at that time were big fans of tuff† This light, porous rock is formed after the hardening of volcanic ash and debris flung into the air during a volcanic eruption. In addition, this volcanic rock is very light, making it an excellent building material.
The necropoli del Crocifisso del Tufo consists of more than 200 tombs that were placed in burial chambers. The rooms are rectangular and the name of the deceased is engraved at the top of the entrance. Etruscan families buried the deceased with objects that represented his/her social role. This often involved spears, feathers, vases and jewelry. For those who are interested: these finds can be viewed in various museums in Orvieto.
Fun fact: although the Etruscans had been using these necropoli since the 8th century, researchers only discovered them centuries later in the 19th century.
4. Pozzo di San Patrizio
Then we crawl underground ourselves, or more or less, with the St. Patrick's Well† After the sack of Rome in 1527 by Emperor Charles V, Pope Clement VII fled to Orvieto. The Pope, however, had been left with a panicked fear. He feared that the emperor would continue the plunder in his new refuge. That's why he called the architect Antonio da Sangallo to build a well. This well served as a water supply for the Pope and the fortress of Albornoz.
At that time, the well of Saint Patricius was a technical tour de force† Da Sangallo designed two ingenious spiral staircases that never intersect. This way the donkeys that went up and down to fetch water would never get in each other's way. This construction greatly facilitated the work of the animals. Yet they still had a long way to go to get to the bottom. The pozzo was about 62 meters deep!
Via the Pozzo di San Patrizio would Saint Patrick apparently also leading another breed of donkeys to a brothel in purgatory…
In short, a cool sight in Orvieto for hot summer days!
Also read: 5x must-see places in southern Italy
3. Torre del Moro
After the extreme depth we go into the extreme height with the towering Moro Tower† The Della Terza family had this 47 meter tall 'Tower of the Moor' built at the end of the 13th century as part of the Palazzo dei Sette† This palace was the public seat of the seven consuls representing the seven liberal arts. These are grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.
Originally, the Della Terzas had not given the bell tower a specific name. After the decline of the seat of the seven, the tower came into the possession of the papacy. It wasn't long until the Pope renamed the tower Torre del Papa (Tower of the Pope). In the 16th century, Pope Leo X ceded the tower to the city and the torre has since been named after the Moor Raffaele Gualterio.
De Moro Tower originally served as a watchtower and was also briefly the residence of Antonio da Sangallo. However, in the 19th century, the clock tower changed its function and became part of a post and telegraph office. Later still, it served as a water storage facility and a water tank was placed in the tower at a height of about 18 metres. Today, the Tower of the Moor has more or less resumed its original function and is a fantastic point from which to admire the panorama of green Orvieto.
If you want to see this astonishing view with your own eyes, you should first warm up thoroughly. This Orvieto attraction does have an elevator — and here comes the but — but it only goes up to the middle floor of the bell tower. After that, it's entirely up to you to wooden spiral staircase climb the remaining steps up to the viewing platform.
Put on your naughty (sports) shoes and take some Compeed plasters and ... a pair of earplugs with you just to be sure. The tower is equipped with two bells that ring every quarter of an hour† Those who prefer to save their eardrums can spend their time in the cozy bookshop at the bottom of the tower.
2. Umbria Jazz Winter
The second place of these top 5 sights in Orvieto goes to… *drum roll*… Umbrian Jazz Winter!
Yes, even in winter you can go to Orvieto for atmosphere and fun! After months of dark, cold winter days, the brewery is back to life thanks to the Umbria Jazz Winter Festival† This five-day festival takes place annually on New Year's Eve and is completely devoted to jazz music. Let's get groovy!
The magical thing about this festival are the concerts that are organized in various museums and palaces. There are live performances by, among others, Allan Harris and Monty Alexander and by jazz bands such as El Comité and Le Boeuf Brother. And that on Internship such as the Palazzo dei Sette, the Teatro Mancinelli (named after the conductors and brothers Luigi and Marino Mancinelli) and the Museo Emilio Greco (a famous sculptor)… That sounds like music to your ears! Numerous spectacles are also staged in the streets of the historic center of the city.
The jazz festival has been organized for about fifteen years and there is also a summer edition, Umbrian Jazz, which takes place in July in the city of Perugia!
And now the highlight of Orvieto:
1. Duomo of Orvieto
With its 53 meters high facade, the 13th-century Orvieto Cathedral undoubtedly the attraction in Orvieto that you will admire!
The origin of the cathedral is due to two popes, a host and a bloody altar cloth. And no, it wasn't a fight that got out of hand between Pope Urban IV and Pope Nicholas IV over the largest piece of the broken host. Rather, it was the host that miraculously began to bleed on the altar cloth during a Mass.
The culprit was a Bohemian priest who began to think rationally. He had his doubts about the transubstantiation or the changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Thanks to Pope Urban IV, who brought the bloodied robe to Orvieto, Pope Nicholas IV learned of the miracle. He had the cathedral built to make it miracle and immortalizing the altar cloth in the Cappella del Corporale.
The Duomo di Orvieto is not a cathedral like any other. That's because of the two very opposite styles in which she's made up. The sober black-and-white Romanesque side facades are a feast for the eyes, while the colorful Gothic facade is rather a feast for the eyes.
Unfortunately, this virtual Italian trip ends here. Are you excited to continue this journey yourself in the future in charming Orvieto? Or do you recommend any nice sights in this city that were not discussed in this article? Then leave a message in the comments! We are already very curious!
Seen a mistake? Ask? Remark? Let us know in the comments!