Only 75 miles north of Rome, lovely Orvieto is a hilltop town in Umbria filled with history, culture and stunning views. Its history spans the centuries from the Estruscans to the Romans to the medieval period. The town is full of historic cities, a jaw-dropping cathedral, shopping and great food.
Here are 11 interesting things to do in and around Orvieto Italy.
If you are short on time Orvieto is a fantastic day trip from Rome.
11 Interesting Things to do in Orvieto Italy
Table of Contents
- 11 Interesting Things to do in Orvieto Italy
- 1. Visit Orvieto Duomo
- 2. See Palazzo Del Popolo
- 3. Explore Orvieto Underground
- 4. Visit a local winery and enjoy some Orvieto Classico
- 5. Go shopping
- 6. Stroll the streets of Orvieto
- 7. Enjoy at least one gelato
- 8. Climb to the top of Torro Del Moro
- 9. Pozzo Del Cava (Cave Well)
- 10. Saint Patrick’s Well
- 11. Stay at an Agriturismo
- Where to Eat in Orvieto
- Where to Stay in Orvieto
- How to get to Orvieto and how to get around
- Frequently Asked Questions about Orvieto Italy
- Is it worth visiting Orvieto Italy?
- Is Orvieto closer to Rome or Florence?
- How long is the Orvieto Underground Tour?
1. Visit Orvieto Duomo
I have visited many a church/duomo in my time so it takes quite a bit to impress me. But wow, Orvieto’s Duomo blew me away! Construction of the Duomo began in 1290 in a Romanesque-Gothic style. The detail and freshness of the facade are extraordinary. Try to visit the Duomo around sunset, as the light causes the church to take on a pinky/coral tone.
The interior is not as spectacular as the exterior but it is still worth a visit to see the striped columns and the beautiful stained glass windows at the front of the church.
2. See Palazzo Del Popolo
This beautiful medieval palace, which translates to the Palace of the Captain of the People, was built in the 13th century. The palace was the seat of the city’s government and housed the courts, the prison, and the grain market. It is not open to the general public but you can admire its exterior.
3. Explore Orvieto Underground
Believe it or not, 1200 caves sit underneath Orvieto. Over the years, these caves have been used for everything from storing wine and food to providing shelter from bombs in World War Two.
Today, most of the caves are privately owned (every shop and house in Orvieto has its own underground cave), so it is only possible to visit two caves on a one-hour tour.
Orvieto Underground is open every day of the year apart from Christmas. Tours run four times a day.
4. Visit a local winery and enjoy some Orvieto Classico
Orvieto is in prime wine-making country and best known for its crisp white wine. The area gained the DOC of Orvieto Classico in 1971. To be classified as Orvieto Classico, the wine must contain at least 60% procanico or grechetto grapes. The balance can be a mix of non-aromatic white grapes.
There are several wineries outside of the town but not too far away. I visited Cantine Neri, which is under 7 kilometers from the heart of town. The wine-tasting industry around Orvieto is not as developed as areas in Tuscany like Montepulciano. Things appear to be much more casual in terms of bookings, tasting times, food etc.
Cantine Neri is a beautiful property on the top of a hill in Bardano. The Neri family has been making wine here since the 1950s. There is a lovely large tasting room, and we were able to enjoy a tasty lunch even if the menu was a bit limited (charcuterie to begin, followed by pasta). But the wines were excellent, and I purchased some to take home.
I also read good things about Madonna Del Latte but we didn’t have time to visit the winery. If you do go there, please drop me a line and tell me what it is like.
5. Go shopping
Orvieto is filled with cute and quirky shops, most of which appear to be independent. If you like Pinocchio, you will be in for a treat as he features heavily across several stores, and you can even sit next to him on a bench.
Many ceramics stores span everything from more modern and artistic designs to classic bright Italian colors. There are several interesting clothing stores, and I found a store where the owner makes all of the great value handbags, Arte Del Cuoio. I bought one, and it has become my go-to handbag.
6. Stroll the streets of Orvieto
Orvieto is made for gentle strolling. From colorful shutters to quirky seats to well-placed bicycles, this is Instagram heaven. Head to the edge of town and the ramparts for some great views.
7. Enjoy at least one gelato
Orvieto has a lot of gelato shops for its size. I always take this as a sign that the gelato must be excellent, or all these gelato stores wouldn’t survive. I am pleased to say that I was correct. Whilst in town, I enjoyed gelato at Il Gelato Di Pasqualetti
8. Climb to the top of Torro Del Moro
Some of the best views of Orvieto (and the Duomo) and the surrounding Umbrian countryside can be obtained from the top of Torro Del Moro. This 46-meter-high tower was built in the 1200s in the city’s center. The tower is open every day all year round, and tickets to the top are three euros.
9. Pozzo Del Cava (Cave Well)
Located in a complex of nine caves, this well was commissioned by Pope Clement VII. The well contains artifacts from the Etruscan, Medieval, and Renaissance periods, including the remains of two furnaces used to produce ceramics.
10. Saint Patrick’s Well
Commissioned by Pope Clement VII as well and constructed in 1527, this well is quite an engineering marvel. It is 16 meters deep and has two independent, opposing spiral staircases of 248 steps each. It is a slightly odd experience to walk down and do watch out if you have vertigo!
11. Stay at an Agriturismo
Spread over 212 acres, Griffins Resort is a beautiful agriturismo located 17 kilometers northeast of Orvieto. This beautiful old manor house sits in green fields and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. And the best place to enjoy the view is by the lovely large swimming pool, lined with comfortable covered lounge chairs.
The bedrooms are simply designed in oak and white. Each room is unique, with a slightly different layout. Mine had a large double bed and lots of billowing white curtains. The design is modern, particularly in the bathrooms. My bathroom had a long skinny shower with two shower heads.
Note: It was very hot when we visited, and the quality of the air conditioning did vary from room to room, so be careful to check this.
The restaurant at Griffin’s Resort is excellent. Many ingredients come from the Ponziani estate, of which the resort is part. After several days in Italy, I appreciated the simpler offers at Griffin’s Resort with grilled proteins and chargrilled vegetables. They also have their own winery – do try their tasty wines.
Breakfast is a buffet of a broad range of sweet pastries and the usual savory suspects of cheese, boiled eggs, tomatoes and various types of meat.
Where to Eat in Orvieto
For good value and all things regional, head to Trattoria del Moro Aronne. Don’t miss the Bucatini carbonara with fava beans. If you’re near the Duomo, check out the family-run restaurant Trattoria La Pergola.
Ristorante Da Gregorio was my favorite meal in Orvieto, even though technically it isn’t in Orvieto. The restaurant is located near Griffin’s Resort, approximately 13 kilometers from the hilltop town. This restaurant is in the Michelin Guide and is a bit of a hidden gem due to its location.
This family-run restaurant has a fairly typical menu for the region done exceptionally well. This is the place to try wild boar in Orvieto.
The restaurant itself is cool and modern inside, with large windows that showcase the fantastic views of the Umbrian countryside.
Where to Stay in Orvieto
I stayed at Griffin’s Resort when I visited Orvieto. However, I researched some options in the center of Orvieto, and here is what looked the best.
Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini is a nice looking 4-star hotel in the middle of the old town. This medieval building is completely modern inside, although still decorated with Medieval, Etruscan and Renaissance elements.
Or stay a couple of miles from Orvieto at the adults-only Altarocca Wine Resort. This looked fantastic, and they have two outdoor pools.
How to get to Orvieto and how to get around
The closest airport to Orvieto is Perugia which is 52 kilometers away. Ryan Air and British Airways fly directly from London to Perugia but there aren’t many flights. It isn’t that easy to get from Perugia to Orvieto. There are no direct train and bus options, and the indirect options may take up to 5 hours. By car, it is just over one hour from Perugia to Orvieto, and taxis in the area aren’t cheap.
Rome airport is twice the distance from Orvieto as Perugia, but the transport links are better. A car will take about 90 minutes from the airport and a train or bus around 2 1/2 hours. The train and bus options are slower as you must go into Rome to get the train or bus to Orvieto.
The best option is to visit Orvieto from Rome. The train only takes 1 1/4 hours, and the bus is about 90 minutes. Orvieto can be visited from Rome as a day trip or even better stay at least one night to absorb the city’s charm.
Frequently Asked Questions about Orvieto Italy
Is it worth visiting Orvieto Italy?
Absolutely! This hilltop town is filled with historical architectural wonders like its amazing Duomo and St Patrick’s Well, great shopping, a charming atmosphere and wonderful food and wine. If you are short on time it would be possible to experience some of the highlights of Orvieto on a day trip from Rome.
Is Orvieto closer to Rome or Florence?
Orvieto is closer to Rome. It is approx two hours from Florence.
How long is the Orvieto Underground Tour?
The tour takes about one hour.