As I said in the previous post, Orvieto sits on top of a tufa plug, left behind when the surrounding countryside was eroded away over centuries by the wind.
I don’t have a good photo of the town from a distance to show you just how amazing it is, but here is one taken from the road below ( from a moving car….I wasn’t driving)
The beautiful buildings in the town owe their gorgeous yellow colour to the tufa excavated to make the bricks used to create them.
I think the town must have been very grand in its day. The buildings are stunning and the winding streets are full of amazing architecture. There are 2 large piazzas with lovely shops, bars and restaurants, as well as several smaller ones hidden away, just waiting to be discovered.
The 2 clock towers are very impressive.
Come for a wander around the town.
We really loved this little street lined with beautiful shops…..with this intriguing relief at the entrance to the street.
At every turn there is something lovely to look at.
One of the particularly interesting things to do in Orvieto is the underground tour. Tufa is fairly easy to dig through, and in centuries past the inhabitants dug tunnels into the ground below them to excavate tufa to make bricks and to dig wells through the tufa layer to the clay layer below. Each house had an underground area for cool storage and to create extra space. Most of these still exist and a couple are open to the public.
The ticket office is in the Piazza in front of the Duomo. We joined the English speaking group and set off for the opening of the underground cave…….this is the view from the edge of town, near the entrance.
Soon we were underground in a large cave that was once an olive oil pressing room.
It is thought that the room had an earlier life as a place of worship, because of the arched ceiling.
This is the area where the oil was pressed, through layers of woven mats.
We walked through tunnels down to lower rooms.
We were shown an Etruscan well.
It is still possible to see the foot and hand recesses to allow the diggers to climb up and down…….not a job I would enjoy.
Further on we came to rooms full of dovecotes, where pigeons were bred for food.
It was an easy way to raise the birds. The dovecotes were provided and a hole was left in the side of the cliff so the pigeons could come and go to find food and the keepers would just collect the odd pigeon when they felt the need…..fresh poultry on tap.
Late afternoon is a great time to wander the streets of Orvieto, when a golden light descends on the town.
Of course I have to talk about food. Thanks to some excellent advice from Toni at Orvieto or Bust we knew just where to go. Clandestino is a busy bar in the main street….the perfect place for a light lunch or and aperitivo….we had both.
The passeggiata (evening stroll) in Orvieto is one of the best I have seen in Italy. It seems the whole town was in the street to see and be seen.
There simply isn’t a better way to spend an evening. I don’t know why every country doesn’t adopt this practice.
To cap the evening off we had a delicious meal at La Palomba.
Orvieto is easily reached by train from Florence or Rome, and fairly easy to access by car. There are car parks below the cliffs, with lifts to take you to the top, and limited parking in the historic centre.
Don’t miss Orvieto!!!!