10 things to do and see in Orvieto

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Orvieto in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Orvieto
10 things to do and see in Orvieto

Orvieto has been called “the tall and strange city” because it’s placed on a tufa cliff emerging from the surrounding city. From a distance, especially at night, it seems suspended in the sky while during the day it appears placed on clouds. It’s a small treasure chest full of art and it’s famous especially for the cathedral, European – Gothic marvel,  and St. Patrizio’s well, hydraulic engineering masterpiece.

Small, clean and  cozy, Orvieto is a must-see during your tour in Umbria but it also deserves a weekend to enjoy the Chapel of San Brizio, the Museo del Duomo, the millennial underground city and the excellent gastronomy. On this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see in Orvieto.

If you are looking for a hotel in Orvieto, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 70 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Cathedral in Orvieto

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The Cathedral is a real Italian – gothic marvel and it’s an harmonic mix of 20 different artists’ work happened during more than 3 centuries. The construction started in 1290 to give to the Corporal of Bolsena’s Miracle a place to be revered, and they continued until the second half of 1500.

The Cathedral in Orvieto
The Cathedral in Orvieto

The largest investments were done by Arnolfo di Cambio, Lorenzo Maitani and Orcagna. Starting from the bottom, you can admire the bas-reliefs with stories from the Old and New Testament and the Last Judgment.

At the center there is the magnificent rose window and all around the mosaics, which despite being very beautiful, have very little of the original ones. The interior contains two main chapels for religion and art: the Chapel of the Corporal and the Chapel of San Brizio. The corporal of the chapel is the one of the Miracle of Bolsena, stained by the blood of a host in 1263. A key event for the Catholic Church who built the cathedral to house the relic and,  since then, every August 11 it  celebrates the Corpus Domini. The corporal and the host are kept in a gold and silver reliquary , true masterpiece of medieval jewellery.

Where: Piazza del Duomo
When – Hours: November to February from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm  2.30- 5:00 pm
March and October from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
April-September from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm
Sundays and holidays:
November to February from 2.30 to 5.30 pm
March, April, May and October from 1.00 to 5.30 pm
June, July, August and Settembre from 1.00 to  6.30 pm
Tickets: Cathedral, Chapel of San Brizio and other museums of the MODO circuit € 5

Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto

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The Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto Cathedral (see point 1) is a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. Beato Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli were the first artists who painted part of the ceiling, but it was Luca Signorelli to complete it.

Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto
Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto

The theme of the chapel is the Last Judgment, a story in pictures about the end of the world populated by angels, terrifying demons, sinners and people into the sky. Extraordinary scenes with the Sermon of Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto

The Chapel of San Brizio in Orvieto Cathedral (see point 1) is a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance. Beato Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli started the works, painting part of the ceiling, but it was Luca Signorelli to complete it.

The theme of the chapel is the Last Judgment, a story in pictures of the end of the world populated by angels, terrifying demons, sinners saved on hold and flew into the sky. Extraordinary scenes with the Antichrist Predica, the Resurrection of the body, the defeat of the Demon by St Michael, the ascent to Paradise and the Damned to hell.

Where: in the transept of the cathedral
When – Hours: November to February from 9.30 am to 1.00 pm  2.30- 5:00 pm
March and October from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm
April-September from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm
Sundays and holidays:
November to February from 2.30 to 5.30 pm
March, April, May and October from 1.00 to 5.30 pm
June, July, August and Settembre from 1.00 to  6.30 pm
Tickets: Cathedral, Chapel of San Brizio and other museums of the MODO circuit € 5

St. Patrizio’s Well in Orvieto

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First of all we have to clarify the reason for the name: the well looks like the cavity where the Irish saint loved to retire in prayer.

St. Patrizio’s Well in Orvieto
St. Patrizio’s Well in Orvieto

This engineering marvel was built in 1527 thanks to Pope Clement VII. The goal was to ensure water all the time of the year  in Orvieto, especially in preparation  of a siege like the one of the Sack of Rome where the Pope had just escaped. The well, 62 meters deep, is entirely carved into the stone and reaches the water that is located under the cliff where Orvieto stands. The masterpiece consists in  the double spiral staircases, big and independent, one for the descent and the other one  for return. This allowed to make easy operations with the water. The light comes from 72 windows open towards the center of the well. If you want to find out how is the well down at the bottom, there are 258 steps to deal with. And then go back.

Where: at the end of Viale Cavour
When – Hours: January, February, November, December: from 10.00 am  to 4.45 pm
March, April, September, October: from 9.00 am to 6.45 pm
May, June, July, August: from 9.00 am to 7.45 pm
Tickets: € 5

Orvieto underground city

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For 2500 years the people of Orvieto dug into the tufa rock on which is built the city,  building a new, underground and hidden city

Orvieto underground city
Orvieto underground city

Only in the last few years a group of speleologists has discovered a complex  labyrinth of more than 1200 caves, tunnels, wells and cisterns. The underground city has been discovered after some landslides. Today you can discover the underground city thanks to Orvieto Underground project that bring tourists to discover this fascinating route.

Where: departure from Piazza del Duomo
When – Hours: every day  at 11.00 am; 12 pm,3 pm; 4 pm, 5.15 pm (during periods of large number of tourist, every 15 minutes)
Never: December 25
Tickets: € 6

Piazza del Popolo in Orvieto

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Full of  cars during the day, Piazza del Popolo regains its charm during the night when lights are up and on Thursday and Saturday, when the cars go away and there is the market.

Piazza del Popolo in Orvieto
Piazza del Popolo in Orvieto

The square then becomes the central place of the Orvieto’s life, as it has been for centuries. It dominates the large space the outline of the Capitano del Popolo Palace, with the strange tower and the beautiful staircase leading to the entrance hall. Today the building houses an exhibition space and an area for meetings and events. If you manage to get in, enjoy the exhibition of the fifteenth century, where  the four hundred members, who ruled the city, used to meet.

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Orvieto

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The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (MODO) actually consists of four small spaces, including the Chapel of San Brizio, the Church of Sant’Agostino and the Library Albèri.

Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Orvieto
Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Orvieto

The papal palaces deserve a visit, because there are  few but exceptional works collected in the so-called Wonderland Rooms. A small path, from the thirteenth century to the first half of the seventeenth century in which stand out the great Enthroned Madonna and Child by Coppo di Marcovaldo, two works by Simone Martini (Madonna and Child with Angels and Madonna with Child and Saints Mary Magdalene, Domenico, Pietro and Paul). There is also a beautiful Magdalene by Luca Signorelli, the same artist of the Chapel of San Brizio.

Where: Piazza del duomo
When – Hours: from November to February 10 am -1 pm  / 2-5 pm  (closed Tuesdays)
April to September from 9.30 am to 7 pm
October and 10 am  to 5 pm  March (closed Tuesdays)
Tickets: Cathedral, Chapel of San Brizio and other museums of the MODO circuit € 5

Torre del Moro in Orvieto

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Let’s start with the name: the Moro was the owner of the building under the tower, his name was Roberto de Sante or Gualtiero called the Moro. Over the centuries the tower belonged to different owners but especially to the Papacy which in 1515 sold it along with other church buildings.

Torre del Moro in Orvieto
Torre del Moro in Orvieto

Today it’s a cultural center, but, above all, a place from which you can  enjoy a breathtaking view of the Duomo and the rooftops of Orvieto. To get to enjoy this view, though, you  have to face 250 steep steps. At the top, watching the landscape, your company will be the android playing the two bells. The clock, a reference point for Orvieto and tourists, began to work in 1885 and is still there.

Where: Piazza del Duomo
When – Hours: November to February: from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm
March, April, September, October: 10:00 am  to 7:00 pm
May-August: 10.00 am  – 8:00 pm

The Albornoz Fortress Orvieto

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Anyone who has seen Orvieto at least for once, even from the A1 highway , understands that the rock on which the town is built is already a natural fortress.

The Albornoz Fortress Orvieto
The Albornoz Fortress Orvieto

It was not easy for the invaders to climb up through the few available roads. Nevertheless, in  1359 began the building of the Albornoz fortress that the ruling families were challenging for centuries. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the fortress was permanently rebuilt only in 1450 when Orvieto subjugate itself to the papacy. The decline by the way continued through the centuries and nowadays there are  little remains of the original structure. Today it houses the public gardens and is the ideal place for a break with views of the surrounding valley.

Where: close to St Patrizio’s well
When – Hours: always
Tickets: free entrance

Things to eat in Orvieto

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You can  start with umbricelli, pasta made by flour and water, egg and wine, so  thick that the people of Orvieto season it  “all’arrabbiata”, with truffles, mushrooms or according to the creativity of local chefs.

Things to eat in Orvieto
Things to eat in Orvieto

Among the second courses you can taste many cold cuts, excellence of Umbria, the meat Chianina and boar. Some baked goods have to be tasted, including the “lumachella” with cheese, bacon, ham, pepper and the “Easter cake”, with eggs and  pecorino cheese. A local peculiarity is the Pera Monteleone, also called the “Farmer’s steak” for its consistency. Among the wines,  the master is the Orvieto DOC where,  the protagonist is  the Grechetto grape and  the Aleatico and cabernet. Among the desserts don’t miss the dots with almonds and wine buns.

Where to sleep in Orvieto

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Orvieto is a must of every holiday in Umbria, so it has a long tradition in tourism and a well-organized reception system.

Where to sleep in Orvieto
Where to sleep in Orvieto

Hotels in the center are numerous but usually have high costs and you have to book a little in advance, especially during spring and autumn. Many more possibilities come from the hotel in the lower part of Orvieto in the surrounding countryside where you can save money and enjoy the green. The average price of a 3 star hotel for one night starts from 40 €.

If you are looking for a hotel in Orvieto, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 70 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com