Posted by: Debra Kolkka | September 21, 2012

Beautiful Orvieto

As I said in the previous post, Orvieto sits on top of a tufa plug, left behind when the surrounding countryside was eroded away over centuries by the wind.

I don’t have a good photo of the town from a distance to show you just how amazing it is, but here is one taken from the road below ( from a moving car….I wasn’t driving)


The beautiful buildings in the town owe their gorgeous yellow colour to the tufa excavated to make the bricks used to create them.






I think the town must have been very grand in its day. The buildings are stunning and the winding streets are full of amazing architecture. There are 2 large piazzas with lovely shops, bars and restaurants, as well as several smaller ones hidden away, just waiting to be discovered.




The 2 clock towers are very impressive.



Come for a wander around the town.


We really loved this little street lined with beautiful shops…..with this intriguing relief at the entrance to the street.





At every turn there is something lovely to look at.







One of the particularly interesting things to do in Orvieto is the underground tour. Tufa is fairly easy to dig through, and in centuries past the inhabitants dug tunnels into the ground below them to excavate tufa to make bricks and to dig wells through the tufa layer to the clay layer below. Each house had an underground area for cool storage and to create extra space. Most of these still exist and a couple are open to the public.

The ticket office is in the Piazza in front of the Duomo. We joined the English speaking group and set off for the opening of the underground cave…….this is the view from the edge of town, near the entrance.



Soon we were underground in a large cave that was once an olive oil pressing room.


It is thought that the room had an earlier life as a place of worship, because of the arched ceiling.


This is the area where the oil was pressed, through layers of woven mats.


We walked through tunnels down to lower rooms.



We were shown an Etruscan well.


It is still possible to see the foot and hand recesses to allow the diggers to climb up and down…….not a job I would enjoy.


Further on we came to rooms full of dovecotes, where pigeons were bred for food.



It was an easy way to raise the birds. The dovecotes were provided and a hole was left in the side of the cliff so the pigeons could come and go to find food and the keepers would just collect the odd pigeon when they felt the need…..fresh poultry on tap.

Late afternoon is a great time to wander the streets of Orvieto, when a golden light descends on the town.







Of course I have to talk about food. Thanks to some excellent advice from Toni at Orvieto or Bust we knew just where to go. Clandestino is a busy bar in the main street….the perfect place for a light lunch or and aperitivo….we had both.



The passeggiata (evening stroll) in Orvieto is one of the best I have seen in Italy. It seems the whole town was in the street to see and be seen.



There simply isn’t a better way to spend an evening. I don’t know why every country doesn’t adopt this practice.

To cap the evening off we had a delicious meal at La Palomba.


Orvieto is easily reached by train from Florence or Rome, and fairly easy to access by car. There are car parks below the cliffs, with lifts to take you to the top, and limited parking in the historic centre.

Don’t miss Orvieto!!!!


  1. Wow just lovely! I love the photos of the streets at night and the clock towers and the countryside.

    • It is a gorgeous town….I love it.

  2. I love those caves! And the golden colour of the stone. Great photos, Debra!

    • The underground tour is amazing. You can really see how people lived here.

  3. Could sense the cold and damp of the caves through looking at its ancient tunnels and green covering (lichen?). Breathtaking photos as usual, Deb especially the ones of the stone eagle and stunning views of the countryside from Orvieto’s walls. Adore the architecture. This town is definitely on my to-visit list!

    • The cave wasn’t particularly cold or damp. The temperature is constant at about 14 degrees. I found it quite pleasant.

  4. gosh I am loving Orvieto. Yes, the passeggiata is a fabulous custom. I have often sat at watched. I know I would enjoy it in Orvieto Lyn

    • I love passeggiata, people of all ages come out in their finery and stroll up and down the street.

  5. I just love wandering with you, Debra! Many thanks.

    • We had a great time in Orvieto.

  6. I love the pictures. And you are correct; there is something more lovelier everywhere you look!

    • The little back streets are full of delights.

  7. Loved the photos of the underground! Always wanted to go on the tour but afraid I would have an anxiety attack once I got down there. These are the best photos of it that I have ever seen!

    • It is not too confined down there and for some of it you can see outside.

  8. I feel like I’ve just been to Orvieto for the day Debra. Thank you!!!! I really must get back there. I especially love the vibe of the aperitivo hour. We’ll have to make a date some time when Toni’s settled in!

    • I’ll be there!

  9. Love, love, love Orvieto. You have captured it well.

    • It is a beautiful town….I will be back.

  10. Looks impressive Debra, looking forward to visiting Orvieto in the next week or so. I feel like I have been there already with your blog. Thank u x

    • I’m sure you will love it. Try Pitigliano too, it is not far away.

  11. Another interesting spot to add to my list Debra….merci beaucoup.

    • I’m sure you will love Orvieto.

  12. What a picturesque place, Debra. Thanks for the armchair tour.:) Love the cherub in the window.

    • It always pays to look up.

  13. Those underground caves look fascinating as does Clandestino! What a loely place to explore.

    • Clandestino was a fun place and full most of the day.

  14. Thanks so much Debra, wonderful photos as usual, and an inspiration to visit Orvieto soon… maybe even a ‘day off’ from house renovation in the next week or two!

    What camera do you use as a matter of interest?

    • I use a Canon G12. It is always on automatic and I don’t photoshop anything.

  15. Always superb photos, always informative, like going to school and way more fun. Those olive presses; imagine the process! Lovely post, thank YOU!

    • I think life must have been tough back then. At least they were working in a kind of air-conditioning.

  16. Nearing the end of the pics, I was getting ready to whine: but what about the f-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-d?! Whew!

    • I’ll do a whole post on food soon.

      • yaaaaaay!

  17. Really? I have a G10, plus an SLR & have had many previous Canon models… However, it is all about ‘vision’ & you have it by the bucketload!

    • I love my Canon G12. I took some pretty good photos with my tiny old Olympus, but the Canon is so much better.

  18. Debra,
    It made me so happy to see the photos outside Clandestino with friends seated and enjoying themselves. You, me and Janine….it’s a date! I arrive on November 1st so I should be settled in my November 2nd at the latest! Hugs.toni

    • Hi Toni,
      I return to Australia on 2nd November, but I will be back in January next year. I am not sure when Janine will be in Italy, but we will be in Orvieto as soon as we can.

  19. I’d forgotten what a great town Orvieto is…. ClanDestino looks great…one for the little black book!

    • Orvieto doesn’t seem to be overcrowded with tourists, which is nice. The town was delightfully full of locals for the passeggiata.

  20. I love how everything is bathed in gold when the afternoon sun appears! 😀

    • The town is the most heavenly colour in the late afternoon.

  21. Orvieto looks wonderful Debra…we had intended to visit it while in Umbria….. Your photos will make us even keener to do so!

    • Don’t miss Orvieto….it is lovely.

  22. Loved all the photos, especially the winding paved street with the shops.

    • Orvieto is a great Italian town. I plan on returning often.

  23. Small world, my good friend Max is the local carabenieri there and his wife works in the pottery shop shown in one of the photos. I am vsisting them over X mas.

    • I’m sure you will love Orvieto…..say hello to your friend for me.

  24. Great trip! Looks like a fantastic place to visit.

    • Orvieto is a great city to visit.

  25. I have very fond memories of sitting in the square in Orvieto drinking a bottle of one of their fabulous whites! thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    • Time for another trip?

      • I’d love to!

  26. I want to go…great pics!

    • I’m sure you would love Orvieto.

      • Saw it from the train yesterday!!!

      • Doesn’t it look wonderful from a distance?

      • Wonderful. Staying in Citta della Pieve today, which appears quite ordinary by comparison, until you start to explore the small back streets…..

      • I love wandering the back streets in Italian towns and villages. There is something wonderful to discover in all of them.

  27. Having been in Orvieto this summer I was transported back there with the help of your photographs. Gorgeous place, brim full of history, lovely people and, of course, food to die for.

    • Lucky you, having summer in Orvieto.

  28. I love the clock towers too. Your post took me back to my visit

    • Orvieto is one of my favourite towns in Italy. I will return soon.

      • If you are around visit Montegiove Castle too. I did a post on it sometime back

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