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How to Spend One Day in Medieval Orvieto, Italy: Top Things to Do Itinerary

Last Updated on May 4, 2022

Europe is well known for medieval cities and architecture, so if you’re interested in seeing a medieval city in Italy, consider visiting Orvieto! On our way to Florence from Rome during our month-long European road trip, we stopped in the town of Orvieto, Italy. This quaint little medieval town rises high above the skyline on a very steep mountain, making it visible from travelers on the highway. The mountain is so steep, it’s easiest to take a cable car to the top to Orvieto! It’s no wonder that Orvieto is called the “city of the cliff”

If you’re looking for somewhere unique to visit in Italy, Orvieto is worth the visit for a day trip from Rome! The city is located not far from Rome so it makes for a great day trip!

Here are some of the top things to do in Orvieto if you only have one day in Orvieto! These suggestions are perfect if you’re only looking to visit Orvieto as part of a day trip from Rome.

One Day in Orvieto Itinerary: Top Things to do

Top Things to Do in Orvieto, Italy: A Perfect Day Trip from Rome

Getting to Orvieto from Rome

Orvieto is quite easy to get to if you’re visiting as part of a day trip from Rome! There are trains available from Rome to Orvieto if you aren’t renting a car in Italy. If you take the bus or train, you’ll be dropped off at Piazzale Matteotti in Orvieto Scalo, where you can take the Funicular Train up to the city. Whether you’re traveling to Orvieto by train, bus, or car, it is only about a 1.5-hour commute.

view from orvieto

Arrive and Ride the Funicular to Orvieto

When you first arrive to Orvieto for your day trip, you’ll want to make your way to The Orvieto Funicular (Italian: Funicolare di Orvieto) to take the cable car up to the city.  the Funicular runs every 10 minutes, and it is open from 7:15am to 8:30pm daily.

Morning: Tour the Duomo

The highlight of Orvieto is it’s Duomo. With its interesting stripe pattern on the side, it cannot be missed! The cathedral is a representation of the Italian Middle Ages. It features mosaic images on the front of the church that depict stories of the Old and New Testament. The Duomo is strategically located so no matter which direction you arrive from, the cathedral takes your breath away. Tours of the Duomo are available!

Orvieto Duomo
Front of Orvieto Duomo

Explore the Historic Streets of Orvieto

Just walking around town and seeing all of the narrow streets made me fall in love with Italy even more. Italy has such a charm to it and it’s clearly enchanted me. It’s so easy to wander and take everything in when you’re in Italy. Every street looks different and there’s always something interesting hiding in the little shops. Walking tours are a great way to learn about the city as well!

Streets of Orvieto

View the Pozzo di San Patrizio

During your day trip to Orvieto, you can see some amazing architecture! The Pozzo di San Patrizio, or Saint Patrick’s well, is the 14th century well that was commissioned by the Pope after the sack of Rome in 1527.  The name was inspired by Saint Patrick’s Purgatory, a medieval legend from Ireland.

The architect-engineer Antonio da Sangallo the Younger surrounded the well shaft with a double helix, spiral ramp, so mules could carry empty and full water vessels separately in downward and upward directions without crossing one another. The cylindrical well is 53.15 meters (174.4 ft) deep with 248 steps and 70 windows.

Have Lunch in Orvieto

Caprese salad from cafe in orvieto

Since Orvieto is not very touristic, it was easy to find a quiet, family-run restaurant for lunch. The locals were incredibly kind and welcoming and appreciated our beginner attempts at speaking Italian!

Afternoon: Explore the Orvieto Underground

Like we said earlier in this post, Orvieto is located on the summit of a volcanic bluff. Even though there are so many beautiful things to explore in Orvieto, interestingly there are cool things to explore underground! The Orvieto Underground is an underground city of over 1200 caves! T

hese caves were dug out by the Etruscans over 2500 years ago! The people who inhabited Orvieto’s underground built this underground city because their water source was located outside of the city. So the easiest way to get to the water is to dig well downwards instead of traveling away from the city. Over time, the wells turned into labyrinths, shelter,s quarries, and cellars.

In your tour, you’ll get to visit two of the caves, as the rest are privately managed by local businesses. Each storefront in Orvieto has its own cave! How crazy is that! A landslide in the 1970s led to a “rediscovery” of the Orvieto Underground network, attracting researchers to study and ultimately leading to a small portion being available for the public to tour. 

Evening: Depart

As you can see, there are so many interesting things to do in Orvieto that you can easily fill up a whole day for exploring! Hopefully, this one day in Orvieto guide helped give you an idea of all the exciting things you can see in Orvieto!

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Pam & Kathrine

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