Soak in medieval history and panoramic views from atop this Southern Umbrian hilltop town
Orvieto is a beautiful medieval town located north of Rome on a high hill overlooking the Umbrian countryside. It is famous for its prominent cathedral, painted ceramics, and DOC white wine.
Soak in the views, stroll through the streets and enjoy an excellent meal at any of the town’s excellent restaurants. This striking village is easily accessible through a one-hour train ride from Termini Station and certainly worth paying a visit.
The most famous attraction is Orvieto’s 14th century Gothic Duomo with its impressive facade that mimics the style of Florence’s Duomo. Make sure to visit the frescoes inside by Luca Signorelli in the Cappella di San Brizio, which is said to have inspired the Sistine Chapel. Allow yourself to become lost in the tapestry of colors and patterns covering every wall, and gaze up at the church’s ceiling which remains in its original condition.
Torre del Moro
For great panoramic views of the town’s medieval layout and the surrounding countryside, climb the Torre del Moro, the large clock tower that stretches 47 meters over town. If you can do so, time your visit with sunset for a very photogenic experience. Note that you can take an elevator up to the 2nd floor but will need to climb the remaining 200 steps on foot. The clock also sounds every quarter past the hour, so mind your ears!
Anello della Rupe
If you have time, the Anello della Rupe is a gorgeous walking trail that runs along the volcanic rock on which the Orvieto is built on. It takes about 1 to 1.5 hours to circumnavigate the entire town on this trail but you can do a shorter walk by entering or leaving the trail at any of its 5 entrances.
The Etruscan necropolis in Orvieto
There is an Etruscan necropolis and a little church built into the rock along the trail, which offers an opportunity to be immersed in nature just steps away from the town. Please note there are some steep hills.
Be sure to visit the network of underground caves that run underneath the entire village. More than 1,200 caves are carved into the rock underneath Orvieto, which you can easily get lost in exploring. Take a tour of the caves and see a medieval olive oil press, narrow Etruscan well, and pigeon-trapping holes, among other curiosities of this 2,500-year-old destination.
St. Patrick’s Well
Next, make your way to St. Patrick’s Well (Pozzo di San Patrizio) which stands tall on the eastern edge of the hilltop town. Built in the 16th century to provide water to Orvieto’s inhabitants, it now remains a popular attraction for tourists looking to descend 200 feet down into the depths of the village. The well was constructed under Pope Clement VII when he took refuge in Orvieto during the 1527 Sack of Rome. To stand at the top and look down to the bottom of the shaft is awe-inspiring enough, but if you can brave the walk back up, descend to the bottom and make a wish.
For a breathtaking view of the Umbrian hillside, walk to the West end of Via Malabraca. Stop at one of the benches along the edge of the grassy park and take in the surrounding countryside. If you’re lucky, you will be greeted by one of the village’s many cats who are well fed and cared for by locals and visitors alike.
How to get to Orvieto from Rome
Train from Rome to Orvieto
Taking the train is easy from Rome’s Termini station, which will get you to Orvieto in around 1 hour and 15 minutes (tickets are from €9 to €16). A funicular directly across from the Orvieto train station brings you up into the town for €1.30/ticket. Outside of the funicular station there is a bus that can take you up into the main square or it’s a 10 minute walk up into the center of town. The funicular stops running at 8:30pm so schedule yourself accordingly for getting back to the train station.
Driving to Orvieto
Driving to Orvieto is a good idea If you want to visit any off the beaten path towns in Umbria. To drive to Orvieto from Rome, take the A1 Autostrada. Take the Orvieto exit and follow signs to Orvieto.
Where to eat in Orvieto
You will certainly have worked up an appetite after weaving through the expanse of tunnels underneath Orvieto. Ristorante Il Cocco, Cantina Foresi, and Osteria da Mamma Angela are both excellent places to dine on authentic Umbrian cuisine, especially for those seeking a taste of the region’s incredible wine. Or, if you find yourself craving something other than carbonara, try Sushi Meile located on Corso Cavour, which offers an all-you-can-eat sushi menu.
Trattoria del Moro-Aronne is a family-owned restaurant which serves excellent food. In the summer, try the polpette di melanzane (eggplant patties) and in the winter order the polpette di verdure made with mixed greens. The nidi di rondine with pecorino and honey is a cheese-lovers delight and they make a fantastic porcini mushroom and truffle pasta dish. Reservations required.
Address: Via S. Leonardo 7
Phone: 0763 342763
Trattoria del Orso. Owned and run solely by the two man team of Ciro and Gabriele – Ciro will explain the day’s dishes and Gabriele is cooking in the kitchen. After your meal ask Ciro for his latest digestivo. They make their own liqueurs out of natural ingredients such as bay leaf and other plants.
Address: via della Misericordia, 18-20
Phone: 0763 341642
Ristorante il Cocco. Very traditional restaurant with a hint of research in new dishes and a good food-price ratio. Good selection of wines.
Address: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 6
Phone: 0763 342319
Cantina Foresi. A cozy ambience, simple and rustic, where you can sample fine wines of Orvieto accompanied by fine cheeses and cured meats of our tradition.
Address: Piazza Duomo, 2
Phone: 0763 341611
Osteria da Mamma Angela. Located in one of the most beautiful squares in Orvieto, this osteria passionately offers traditional Umbrian and Orvieto dishes. A typical modern hostaria where the passion for cooking of chef Mamma Angela and the quality of the genuine materials come together in search of the “authentic flavors”.
Address: Piazza del Popolo, 2
Phone: 0763 342790
Bistrotters is a cute and stylish place in the center of town with lots of outdoor seating. Good pizzas and pasta dishes and a very nice eggplant parmigiana. Friendly and helpful service.
Address: Piazza Gualterio, 2
Phone: 0763 343978