Orvieto is one of my favourite towns in all of Italy. I pass it regularly when I am on the train from Rome to Florence and I never fail to be amazed at the sight of the town sitting high on its tufa plug above the surrounding countryside.
The opportunity to spend a couple of days there recently was too good to refuse.
The origins of the town are unknown, but the Etruscans were there, and the Romans and it suffered under the Barbarian invasions. In the 11th century Orvieto became an independent city-state and began to acquire the incredible monuments that remain today. It was annexed to the Papal states in the 15th century.
The most outstanding building in the town is the magnificent cathedral. It was begun in the late 13th century and despite the fact that there were several architects involved, the building has an exceptionally harmonious appearance. My one gripe is that the area in front of the cathedral is not deep enough to allow you to stand back far enough to admire it. You could get a serious crick in your neck from looking up.
The facade is an exotic jewel of Gothic architecture. The gorgeous panels, a series of sculptures, bas-reliefs and mosaics, that cover the front of the building could keep you there for hours, not wanting to miss one bit.
The interior of the church is beautiful too.
The walls are covered with remnants of old frescoes.
I have gone on far too long about the cathedral, but it really is spectacular. I will show you more of Orvieto is the next post….or 2.
The cathedral takes on a golden colour in the late afternoon.