Florence Italy


Orvieto, Italy is a city which sits on the flat summit of an almost vertical cliff face about 160 km south of Florence or 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs by train. It is one of the most dramatic locations in all of Europe. The defensive walls that have protected the town since ancient times are still standing and you will need to ride a funicular up to the town.

Annexed by Rome in 3 BC, this municipality governed the road that stretched from Florence to Rome. Orvieto was ruled as a Papal State until it was annexed into the newly unified Italy in 1860. Today it is a bustling tourist town that offers many landmarks, amazing ceramics and shopping, in addition to the awesome views that can't be found anywhere else in Italy.

Attractions like The Duomo, which was started in 1290 by the Pope, still offers a peek into the past of this Italian town. The facade of the Duomo, striped in narrow bands of white travertine and greenish-black basalt contains sculptures by Lorenzo Maitani and is considered one of the most important Gothic structures in Italy. Inside is the Chapel of San Brizio that contains the frescoed masterpiece, Last Judgment from 1449 by Luca Signorelli.

The Papal Palace in Orvieto was begun in 1263, which was the first outside of Rome. The stunning architecture is still available to marvel at today. The Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo is the plaza outside the Palace where town meetings were held, and it still maintains a palatial impression. The Albornoz Fortress, which is surrounded by a moat, is another landmark that dates back to the 13th century.

Orvieto-DuomoThe Underground City of Orvieto is a series of caves and tunnels that are beneath the surface and are only open to guided tours. With the full array of historical and archeological finds that have been found here, there are galleries, quarries, cellars and unexpected passageways. Superimposed rooms with carved niches were meant for escape from the city in the event of siege.

Known for their highly prized white wine of the Orvieto district, the vineyards that are northeast of the city produce a major economic source and also make red wine from the grapes they grow. Known as the wine of the popes, these noble wines have an amazing aroma, softness, balance and sweetness that put them in a class of their own, due to the soil and climatic conditions of the area.

Orvieto is well known for the production of beautiful ceramics and bronze works since the ancient times when the city was inhabited by the Etruscans in 8-9 BC. The Etruscan ruins and museum house some of the archeological finds of the area.

The shopping in Orvieto offers some of Italy's most amazing creations in ceramics, bronze and alabaster. There are also festivals, such as Orvieto con Gusto, held in October that offers the tastes of their fine Italian cuisines and wine. The Procession of Corpus Domini is an annual festival that has over 400 costumed participants that dates back to 1264.

The overall feeling of this dramatically panoramic hilltop town is a historic glimpse into the past, the rich tastes of Italian food and wine, the arts, culture and shopping that has makes Orvieto a top tourist destination.

Orvieto-Ceramic Shop

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Getting to Orvieto from Florence:

By Train- Trains are readily available from Florence, fourteen to be exact, and the trip takes about 1 3/4 hours. Trains leave from Santa Maria Novella station in Florence.

Remember, when you get off the train you have to go across the street to get on the funicular to go up to the town. Buy a combination ticket that includes a bus ride at the top that leaves you right in front of the Duomo.

Orvieto-Michelangelo's Tomb

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