If you are looking for an easy and very worthwhile day trip from Rome, look no further than the beautiful medieval hill town of Orvieto. Located in Umbria about 60 miles north of Rome, you can reach Orvieto in a little over an hour by train from Rome’s Termini Station. Once you arrive, you will find yourself at the foot of the town, which is built upon volcanic rock known as tufo in Italian.
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The train station in Orvieto is located in the lower, newer part of town. Most visitors don’t spend any time here, as there isn’t much to do or see. Instead, buy a ticket for the funicular at the station and take a quick ride up the hill into the old and charming area of town.
Once off the funicular, though, you’re still not in the heart of Orvieto. You can either walk for about 10-15 minutes, or get on a city mini-bus (fare is included in your funicular ticket) to get to the main piazza. Located right on the piazza is the tourist information center, where you can get a free map of the town. There is also someone there to answer any questions you might have.
Also located in the main piazza is the stunning Duomo. Lorenzo Maitani began construction on the facade of the cathedral around 1300, but it took over 100 years to complete. Covered with colorful mosaics and intricate carvings, the Gothic structure it is absolutely breathtaking.
Inside the Duomo, do not miss the Chapel of San Brizio. The walls of the chapel are covered with frescoes by Luca Signorelli. His detailed images of Judgement Day, the resurrection of the dead, Heaven and Hell will leave you speechless.
After visiting the Duomo, you can visit the Palazzi Papali, which are medieval palaces filled with art, or simply spend time strolling around the quaint town. Its winding cobblestone streets are filled with all kinds of shops and plenty of good restaurants.
If you enjoy beautiful Italian ceramics, this is a great town to find really nice pieces at good prices. We bought several at this shop:
But the one thing you simply can’t leave Orvieto without is their world-famous Classico wine. The volcanic soil in the area is rich with minerals, and has produced grapes that are turned into the delicious, semi-sweet white wine since the Estruscan era. The owner at this shop was very knowledgeable and gladly wrapped up our bottles to survive the trip home:
When we went to Orvieto, our outbound train from Rome was delayed for almost two hours (not an uncommon occurrence with Italy’s train system). Unfortunately, that meant that we didn’t have time to take a tour of the underground caves or see St. Patrick’s Well – which are both things I’ve heard are very interesting and worthwhile. Maybe in my next life I can come back as this cat, who seemed to pretty much have it made:
When we were walking back through the main piazza at the end of the day, it was just around dusk and I captured this shot of the Duomo, which is still one of my favorites (no filter at all on this pic):
It always reminds me how beautiful the town is.
Have you ever been to Orvieto? What was your favorite thing about it?