A day trip to Ovieto: Medieval Elegance in Southern Umbria
Orvieto is a beautiful medieval town located north of Rome on a high hill overlooking the Umbrian countryside, easily accessible by public transportation. It is famous for its prominent cathedral, painted ceramics and Orvieto DOC white wine. Enjoy the views, strolling the streets and an excellent meal at any of the town’s very fine restaurants.
The most famous attraction is Orvieto’s 14th century Gothic Duomo with its impressive facade – make sure to visit the frescoes inside by Luca Signorelli in the Cappella di San Brizio (said to have inspired the Sistine Chapel). After the magnificence of the Duomo, head to the opposite side of town and visit the church of San Giovenale. The oldest church in Orvieto, it was built in its original state in 1004 and only recently reopened after years of renovation. It is a simpler, humbler church with beautifully restored frescoes.
For great panoramic views of the town’s medieval layout and the surrounding countryside, climb the Torre del Moro, the large clock tower in the center of town. Time your visit with sunset for a very photogenic moment. Note that you can take an elevator up to the 2nd floor but need to climb the remaining 200 steps on foot. The clock also sounds every quarter past the hour so mind your ears!
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. 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.
Taking the train is easy from Rome’s Termini station, which will get you to Orvieto in anywhere from 50 minutes to 1.5 hour depending on the train (tickets are €7.70 or €17). 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.
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
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
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