Orvieto Travel Guide

What to see and where to stay in Orvieto, Italy

orvieto cathedral photo
••• Orvieto Cathedral. Sir Francis Canker Photography/Moment Open/Getty Images

Orvieto is one of the most dramatic hill towns in Italy, perched on a plateau atop huge tufa cliffs. Orvieto has a beautiful duomo (cathedral) and its monuments and museums cover millenniums of history starting with the Etruscans.

Orvieto Highlights

  • Medieval Duomo with a stunning mosaic facade
  • Saint Patrick's Well
  • Underground Passages
  • Etruscan Sites
  • Views from the Torre del Moro

Orvieto Location

Orvieto is in the southwest of central Italy's Umbria region.

It's about 60 miles north of Rome, just off the A1 toll road between Rome and Florence. Orvieto can be visited as a Rome day trip or on a guided day trip from Rome that includes transportation and a visit to Assisi.

Where to Stay in Orvieto

  • Hotel Corso is a well-rated 3-star hotel in the historic center, just .3 kilometers from the funicular, making it convenient for those arriving by train or by car.
  • Find and book more Orvieto hotels on Hipmunk.

Orvieto Transportation

Orvieto, on the Florence - Rome line, is easily reached by train. Its train station is in the lower town, connected to the upper town by a funicular. There's a large covered parking lot at Campo della Fiera in the lower town. Elevators and escalators help transport visitors to the historic center, which is closed to non-resident traffic. There are also parking areas around the edge of the upper town. A mini-bus runs through the town.

If you want to explore more of Umbria, car rentals are available through Auto Europe and buses connect Orvieto with Perugia and other towns in Umbria.

Top Tourist Sights and Attractions in Orvieto

  • The Medieval Duomo, or cathedral, is one of the most impressive examples of medieval architecture in Italy. Building started in 1290 but it took almost four centuries to finish it. The cathedral's stunning facade is embellished with mosaics that shine in the sunlight. The Gothic style interior holds frescoes by Fra Angelico and Signorelli and beautiful wooden choir stalls.
  • Saint Patrick's Well, built in the early 16th century, is an architectural marvel. Its double spiral staircases run along the sides of the well, 62 meters deep, without meeting. Each has 248 steps and is just wide enough for pack animals to descend and then carry water back up.
  • Underground Passages dug into the tufa beneath the city have been in use since Etruscan times. During the Middle Ages, the network of passages grew larger and was used for water cisterns and pigeon breeding. This underground city is open to the public on walking tours arranged at the tourist office.
  • Torre del Moro, 47 meters tall, is the highest point in the city. From the top of the tower there are incredible views over the valley and hills.
  • Albornz Fortress is a Spanish castle at one end of the upper town where an Etruscan temple once stood. The original fortress was town down and this one dates from the mid-fifteenth century.
  • Etruscan sites are mainly outside the historic center and include remnants of the Etruscan wall around the town, tombs and a necropolis. Etruscan finds can be seen in the Civic Archeology Museum across from the Cathedral. Etruscan Tomb Photos

Tourist Information

The tourist information office is in Piazza del Duomo, the large square in front of the cathedral.

They sell the Orvieto card that includes major sites and museums as well as the bus and funicular. The card can also be bought at the railway station parking lot.

Shopping in Orvieto

Orvieto is a main center for majolica pottery and many shops in town sell the pottery. Other handicrafts are lace making, wrought iron work, and wood crafts. Wine, especially white, is made in the vineyards of the hills and you can taste or buy it in town.

Around Orvieto

Orvieto makes a good base for exploring southern Umbria (see Best Umbria Hill Towns) and the neighboring region of Northern Lazio with Etruscan sites, gardens, and interesting small towns. Rome can even be visited as a day trip from Orvieto, just over an hour by train.