Orvieto on the way to Rome

Trip Start Oct 01, 2009
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Trip End Oct 15, 2009


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Flag of Italy  , Umbria,
Sunday, October 11, 2009

We stoped at Orvieto on the way to Rome

Orvieto history goes back to the Etruscan civilization. It is home to Etruscan ruins and the remnants of a wall that enclosed the city more than 2000 years ago. The city has long kept the secret of its labyrinth of caves and tunnels that lie beneath the surface. Dug deep into the tuff, a volcanic rock, these hidden and secret tunnels are only now open to view through guided tours which we, unfortunately, did not make time to take.

For those who arrive by train or do not wish to drive up the long and winding roads to the top of this mountain, a funicular carries passengers from the train station at La Rupe to the top of the mountain.

The cathedral of Orvieto is one of the most beautiful churches in Umbria, indeed in all of Italy. It was begun in 1285 and is Gothic in style, with three naves. The Cathedral is striped in white travertine and greenish-black basalt in narrow bands, similar in many ways to the cathedral of Siena and other central Italian cathedrals of that era. The Gothic Duomo offers world-class frescoes and sculpture.

During the sack of Rome in 1527 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, Pope Clement VII took refuge at Orvieto. Fearing that in the event of siege by Charles' troops the city's water might prove insufficient, he had a spectacular well (the Pozzo di San Patrizio or "Well of St. Patrick", so called because this Italian expression, inspired by mediaeval legends that St. Patrick's Purgatory in Ireland gave access down to Purgatory, is used to indicate something very deep). The central well shaft was surrounded by ramps in a double helix. These ramps were each designed for one-way traffic, so that mules laden with water-jars might pass down then up again unobstructed.

Make time to visit Orvieto.  You won't be sorry.
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