Orvieto is probably Umbria’s most peculiar town, built high up on a vulcanic rock of tufa-stone. It was founded by the Etruscans more than 2700 years ago. In spite of the destruction by the Romans in 264 b.C. many remains of its ancient civilization have come back to light. A footpath along the rock offers a remarkable view over one of the largest excavation areas, a cemetery dating back to the second century b.C.
In the heart of the late medieval town is one of Italy’s most astonishing late gothic churches, the Cathedral of St Mary. The sanctuary was built to celebrate the precious relic of Bolsena, a piece of altarcloth with the blood-stains of Jesus Christ.
The side-chapel of San Brizio* boasts an superb cycle of frescoes painted by the renaissance master Luca Signorelli. The theme is the Apocalypse. Most famous the scene of the Resurrection and, needless to tell, the Doomed in Hell.
A half day visit starts from the remains of the Papal fortress at the funicular-station. A brief walk through the medieval streets to the Cathedral and the main square, ending at a splendid view over the valley at the little church of San Giovanni.
Having an entire day at your disposal, it certainly is worth to visit one of the etruscan museums*, the etruscan cemetery* at the outskirts, or to discover the towns’ underground* in the company of a specialized guide. Walking shoes are necessary!