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The Territory of Orvieto

Halfway through the network of ancient and modern roads between Florence and Rome one enters the territory of Orvieto which today includes the following municipalities in the district: Allerona, Baschi, Castel Giorgio, Castel Viscardo, Ficulle, Fabro, Montecchio, Montegabbione, Monteleone, Parrano, Porano, San Venanzo and, of course, Orvieto. Historically, the territory of Orvieto occupied a broader area, especially during the Medieval period, when the city-state of Orvieto, called at that time "Urbsvetus", reached its greatest size along a strip of land that exteded from the Tiber River to the Thyrrenian sea. Today it is part of the Umbrian region, but traditional ties that date back thousands of years, linking the Orvieto territory to upper Lazio and southern Tuscany, have not been severed. These ties are still strong from a tourist point of view, as they are the cultural, historical, and tourist ties that link the Orvieto region to the neighboring Trasimeno-Pievese and the Sienese areas. The current district of Orvieto is served by modern transportation links: the "Autostrada del Sole" and the Rome-Florence railway line. The district extends through a hinterland spanning a typical landscape of volcanic origin, with its basalt and tufa plateaus, to rolling hills and alluvial plains, and through rough clay terrain to the first mountainous outposts of the Appenines. It is an interesting and varied landscape, then, where nature is left unspoiled in dense expanses of forest but where the work of man is evident in the ancient cultivated vineyards that produce the famous wine of "Orvieto".

Orvieto, a center of ancient origin, is situated at the top of a single mass of tufa (known as "la Rupe", or cliff) that rises above the Paglia plain at 325 metres above sea level. It has been inhabited since the Villanoviano period, and became famous above all for the Etruscans, who were present on the cliff from the 8th Century B.C. At the destruction of the city by the Romans in the year 264 B.C., there followed a long period of total decadence which lasted for at least six centuries. Italy then became the scene of barbaric invasions as the Roman Empire became increasingly unstable. Orvieto rose again as a valid "garrison" to protect and represent its people. This sacred Etruscan city (Volsinii) continues to provide testimonies and artifacts that draw scholars from around the globe and continues to fascinate history and archaeology enthusiasts to this day.
Not less enchanting is the Medieval Orvieto with its palaces, towers, and churches. Of particular note is the Duomo, called "The Golden Lily of cathedrals". This Italian Gothic masterpiece has always been the most representative image of Orvieto around the world. It was begun in 1290 and was completed over the course of three centuries. It is the work of esteemed architects such as Arnolfo di Cambio and Lorenzo Maitani and artists such as Pisano, Orcagna, Signorelli, and Scalza. Since 1364, when Orvieto and its territories were annexed by the church, Orvieto became a frequent papal residence, also for reasons of security: Papa Clemente VII, fearing for his life, moved to the rock of Orvieto with his entire court during the sacking of Rome at the hand of Lanzichenecchi (1527). He then had Sangallo il Giovane construct the famous well "Pozzo di San Patrizio" in the fear that the city could be without water in case of siege. This represents a high expression of genius and the art of the Renaissance. The solution to the problems that settlement posed, such as the search for water and the maintenance of food, was sought underground throughout the history of Orvieto. Beneath the city there is an incredible number of artificial cavities, giving life to an intricate labyrinth of tunnels, galleries, cisterns, wells, caves, and cellars. Also numerous are the cultural, theatrical, musical, and sporting events. Among these the one that stands out is Umbria Jazz Winter. This now traditional yearly event of great musical prestige takes place between Christmas and New Years Day. Orvieto is also a modern, evolved city that keeps pace with the times. With the restructuring and rennovation of historical palaces, the city offers an ideal site for professional and academic meetings. Its convention center is located in the splendid Palazzo del Popolo. It is a favoured site for study and features advanced classwork and special internship. These offer the possibility to live a unique, intense experience of cultural growth.

Events and Festivals

  • Easter concert in the Cathedral
  • Festival of the Palombella (Feast of Pentecost)
  • Feast of Corpus Christi - Historical Procession (June)
  • Palio Goose (June)
  • Orvieto with taste (October)
  • Umbria Jazz Winter (December)

Typical Products

  • Wines: Orvieto is within the Roman Etruscan wine road. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil DOP
  • Lumachella