Orvieto Things to Do
Monuments and Museums
The Duomo of Orvieto is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Italy. The façade of the Duomo of Orvieto is structured like a triptych, and is richly decorated in a dazzling mixture of polychrome marble, sculptures and mosaics. The middle entrance and the central rose window were designed by Andrea Orgagna in the 14th century.The interior is partly Romanesque in style, whereas the presbyterium is Gothic. Compared with other cathedrals in Europe, the Duomo of Orvieto is less formally linear and uses a greater variety of materials.
The Duomo is known for the Last Judgement cycle of frescoes by Luca Signorelli, and the magnificent bronze portals of the Duomo were completed by Emilio Greco, a sculptor whose name has become synonymous with Orvieto also thanks to the collection of 32 bronze sculptures and 60 graphic works and prints that he donated to the city and which are currently housed in the 14th century Palazzo Soliano, next to the cathedral.
Cappella Nuova – San Brizio Chapel
The Cappella Nuova is one of the best known masterpieces of Renaissance Italian art. The chapel was built between 1406 and 1425 and Beato Angelico and Luca Signorelli worked on the decorations of the entire chapel.
Faina Archeological Museum
The Museo Faina contains one of Italy’s finest archaeological collections, brought together by two aristocrats, Mauro and Eugenio Faina, who from 1864 went personally on digs and acquired items on the open market. Located in Palazzo Faina, the Museo Claudio Faina is directly opposite the Duomo and extends on two floors of the building.
Well of Saint Patrick
Built in 1527 and commissioned by Pope Clement VII, the Pozzo di San Patrizio was designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger to supply water to the city in the event of a siege. The well takes its name from St Patrick because of its alleged similarity to the cave the saint is believed to have used as a retreat for penitence and prayer. The ingenious design of the well was built in such a way that those descending with their mules or donkeys would never meet those ascending in the opposite direction.
The Pozzo della Cava
A vast, 36-metre-deep hole originally dug by the Etruscans as a well and enlarged between 1527 and1530 by order of Pope Clement VII to supply water to Orvieto in the event of a siege. In 1646 the well was closed after five French officers were hurled down the pit in a brawl.
Palazzo dei Sette and Torre del Moro
Recently refurbished as a cultural centre, the Palazzo dei Sette and the Torre del Moro once belonged to the Della Terza family. The complex then passed into the hands of the Church and was used by the city’s ‘seven’-member government, hence its name.
The first door to the right leads to the Torre del Moro. There are two bells in the tower, one is particularly rare and dates from 1313. Its rim is engraved with the symbols of the city’s 25 crafts and with the symbol of the people of Orvieto. The top of the tower’s 47-metre-high vantage point commands views over the entire city and its surrounding dominions. A stone slab on the corner with Via della Costituente is inscribed with a tetraine from Dante’s Purgatory that refers the feud between two Orvieto families, the Monaldeschi and the Filippeschi.
Palazzo Soliano and the Museo Emilio Greco
Known also as the Palazzo di Bonifacio VIII, Palazzo Soliano is believed by some historians to have been erected by order of Pope Boniface VIII. Today the building still belongs to the Church.
Palazzo Soliano houses the collection of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, which includes a number of fine works from the Renaissance through to Mannerism and the 19th century. The collection includes paintings by Giovanno Lanfranco, Girolamo Muziano, Federico Zuccaro, Cesare Nebbia, Pomarancio, as well as a valuable collection of drawings by Ippolito Scalza, and Cesare Nebbia’s plans for the adaptation of the frescoes in the Duomo.
The lower part of the building houses the Museo Emilio Greco, dedicated to Emilio Greco, the artist responsible for the design of the magnificent doors of the cathedral. Some 100 works by Greco are contained here.
Palazzo del Vescovado and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
The Palazzo del Vescovado, or former bishop’s palace, dates back to the reign of Pope Benedict VII, who commissioned the building in 977 to be built next to the church of Santa Maria Prisca. Over the centuries the palace was enriched and sumptuously decorated by a succession of popes, cardinals and bishops.
Part of the palazzo houses the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, which contains the interesting Golini I and II tombs dating from the 4th century BC.
Palazzo del Capitano
Situated in Piazza del Popolo, the Palazzo del Capitano is a simple construction, in the typical style of the first stage of the city’s free Comune status. The construction of the palazzo began in the 13th century, possibly by order of Neri della Greca. Originally the Palazzo del Capitano was composed of a single ground floor loggia, used as a market place or for meetings, from which the magistrate would harangue the people. In 1578 the upper floors of the palazzo were used as a theatre for public performances financed by the Comune. In the first half of the 16th century the Accademia dei Giovani staged its productions here.
Recent restorations have found interesting archaeological remains beneath the building, including the foundations of a 5th century BC Etruscan temple and part of a Medieval aqueduct and cistern.
Umbria Jazz Winter
Umbria Jazz Winter offers five days of great music at the end of December and beginning of January in the setting of one of Umbria and Central Italy’s most beautiful, historic and noble cities.
Over the years, the Orvieto festival has attained a special place in the Italian music scene. The merit for this lies with the festival format, which brings together tourism, culture and music. Not to mention the fine local cuisine and wines. But merit for the festival’s success also lies with its program, which offers music for all tastes.
Usually , to give a warm welcome to the New Year, there are two key events: on 31 December there are two New Year’s Eve dinners held to the sound of jazz, and these are followed by concerts after midnight. And on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, there is a special Mass for peace with gospel singers in Orvieto’s magnificent Cathedral.
Folk version of the ancient Noble horseback tournament, the Palio dell'Oca consists in inserting a long pole into the hole in the duck’s tub, which is full of water, while staying in equilibrium on a moving wagon. This is placed at a height of at two metres from the ground. The objective of the event is to maintain traditions and folk games, such as “the albero della cuccagna”,”the gioco delle pignatte” and “broche” which are followed by the Palio every year.
Procession of Corpus Domini
This extraordinary festival commemorates a miracle said to have happened in 1264, when a wandering priest from Prague on a pilgrimage to Rome stopped at a local church in nearby Bolsena, outside Santa Christina, to celebrate the Eucharist.
During the Mass he is said to have witnessed the Host bleeding copiously. His blood-stained habit, the Corporale, is still kept in the Catedrale dell'Corporale in Orvieto, and the church of Santa Christina in Bolsena where he stopped still contains the altar, marked with the remarkably well-preserved blood from the miracle.
The annual festival consists of a parade through the town in which more than 400 colourful costumed figures participate. There are also celebrations outside town, at the church of Santa Christina.
Gran Fondo degli Etruschi
In the month of June, this is a mountain bike race that runs for 82 km or the Medio Fondo which runs for 60.
Orvieto con Gusto
In October, wander through the town, enjoy the sights and savor the delights of Italian gastronomy. Workshops help refine your taste by comparing products and flavors.