5. Orvieto: 2-Hour Small Group Tour
Your city tour will start from Piazza Cahen at 10:45. If you come by car, you can park your car below the railway station at Piazzale della Pace and then from there, you can use escalators for getting to the funicular which is the most typical and easy way to go up to your meeting point. If you arrive to Orvieto by train, as soon as you get out of the station, you will find the funicular station just in front of you. So take the funicular and as soon as you get it off, turn to the right. Your guide will be waiting for you at the little coffee shop stand just to the side of the funicular.
From there, you will start getting immersed in the old Etruscan history of the city by seeing the remains of Belvedere Temple. Close by, you will also find Saint Patrick’s well (64 meters deep, 246 steps down to the ground), an impressive engineering work dating back to the 16th century. During that time, Orvieto was used by popes, in case of danger in Rome such as an attack, as a place to refuge. In order to ensure a water supply to the city, a pope wanted to build a double helix designed flight of steps around the proper well to be able to reach the bottom bridge, where people and donkeys could get jugs of water. To dig that deep in the ground it was such hard labor that Italians still say when referring to a hard task that it is like “digging Saint Patrick's well.”
The well was located in the papal fortress of the city unfortunately destroyed after the unification of Italy when Orvieto stopped being under papal control. From the fortress, you will enjoy a lovely view of the countryside and the new town of Orvieto. After a nice walk slightly uphill, you will reach the cathedral which is one of the most stunning churches of Italy. Famous for its façade mosaics, it preserves a masterpiece of Italian Renaissance painting by Luca Signorelli, the Chapel of San Brizio. Signorelli managed to reflect in his Day of Judgment and Life after Death stories of the turbulent political and religious atmosphere of his age. His frescoes were so well-known that even Michelangelo studied them before doing his famous work at the Sistine Chapel in Rome. After the cathedral tour, you will have a nice walk to the medieval old squares through typical alleys which seem to have kept the mysteries and secrets of medieval life.