If you’ve been in popular Italian cities rubbing elbows with all the other visitors, take an easy train ride to the hilltop town of Orvieto, Italy.
Located in between Florence and Rome, the town of Orvieto is a gem, but usually gets skipped over in favor of these Italian highlights.
Perched on tufo (condensed volcanic ash), the town dominates the skyline as you approach.
When you make it to the top of Orvieto, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views, medieval streets, unique local dishes, excellent white wine, and a gorgeous cathedral!
Orvieto 2023 Updates
Good To Know: Like many destinations in Italy, post-pandemic Orvieto has had a couple of places close and some costs have changed. The info in the article is up-to-date for 2023.
Museo Maioliche is closed.
Orvieto Vie Museum is closed. I’m not sure if it’s temporary or permanent, but it looked shut down and dusty on our last visit to Orvieto.
Carta Orvieto Unica prices have increased and no longer include transport discounts.
Who Should Visit Orvieto Italy
Orvieto appeals to a variety of visitors, including:
- People who are tired of crowded Italian cities. Orvieto isn’t ‘undiscovered,’ but you can still sometimes have a monument to yourself, there aren’t long lines, and you’ll find plenty of space – even in the main piazzas.
- Families with active kids. There are many activities and landmarks in Orvieto that keep little ones moving. Besides playgrounds, you can climb towers, explore underground tunnels, and walk down into wells.
- Families with babies and toddlers. Orvieto’s streets are easy to maneuver with a stroller, there are shaded playgrounds, and there are plenty of open spaces for babies and toddlers to run around.
- Geology lovers. The town is full of underground tunnels to explore, and you can walk around the base of the natural walls to see them up close.
- Art enthusiasts. Orvieto is home to an excellent selection of art, in its Duomo and its many museums.
- Religious pilgrims. The famous pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, runs through Orvieto on its way to Rome. The town is also home to a magnificent cathedral, which has a beautiful and interesting façade and houses a miraculous linen altar cloth.
- Travelers on a budget. It’s easy to enjoy your time in Orvieto without breaking the bank. Shop the bi-weekly market (or at the grocery store) for picnic foods, spend time walking the medieval streets, watch artists at work in ceramics shops, and choose some inexpensive but memorable activities like the underground visit or climbing the Moro Tower.
How to Pronounce Orvieto
Orvieto is pronounced or-vee-YEH-toe.
Listen to it here:
Where is Orvieto, Italy?
Orvieto is in central Italy, in the province of Terni and the region of Umbria. It’s about 2 hours from Florence and 1.5 hours from Rome (by car).
Map of Orvieto, Italy
Distances From Orvieto to Nearby Destinations
|Destination||Distance||Time by Car||Highlights|
|Civita di Bagnoregio||20 km||35 min||The ‘dying’ city|
|Lago di Bolsena||25 km||35 min||Sailing; cycling or walking lakeside; visit Bolsena|
|Città della Pieve||45 km||40 min||Artist Perugino’s hometown|
|Lago Trasimeno||70 km||1 hr||Trasimeno Blues Festival; Castiglione del Lago|
|San Casciano dei Bagni||35 km||50 min||Thermal springs|
|Pitigliano||50 km||1 hr||Etruscan vie cave; historic center; view of the town from outside its walls|
|Assisi||90 km||1 hr 20 min||Basilica di San Francesco|
|Narni||60 km||55 min||Underground; Augustus bridge|
|Todi||35 km||45 min||Views from town; aperitivo in Piazza del Popolo|
|Saturnia||80 km||1 hr 20 min||Thermal springs|
|Perugia||75 km||1 hr 10 min||Baci chocolates; Corso Vannucci|
|Pienza||80 km||1 hr 15 min||Pecorino cheese; city wall passeggiata|
|Montepulciano||70 km||1 hr||Piazza Grande; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano|
|Rome||120 km||1 hr 30 min||Colosseum; Vatican Museums; plate of carbonara|
How Much Time to Spend in Orvieto Italy
Orvieto is a perfect day trip from Florence or Rome by train or other nearby destinations by car.
Orvieto is gorgeous around sunset, which pretty much requires an overnight stay in the summer months. But, I don’t think an overnight stay is required to really appreciate the town.
If you really want to get to know the town, I’d recommend spending 2-3 days in Orvieto.
When to Visit Orvieto
Orvieto is at its best in the late-Spring through fall (May – October).
It’s quiet in the winter – a little too quiet, in my opinion. The city does liven up over the New Year during the few days of the Umbria Winter Jazz Festival.
Summers are hot but the shady streets and many green spaces offer respite from the heat.
Weather in Orvieto
|January||49°F (9°C)||35°F (2°C)|
|February||52°F (11°C)||35°F (2°C)|
|March||58°F (14°C)||39°F (4°C)|
|April||63°F (17°C)||44°F (7°C)|
|May||72°F (22°C)||51°F (11°C)|
|June||80°F (27°C)||57°F (14°C)|
|July||87°F (31°C)||62°F (17°C)|
|August||86°F (30°C)||62°F (17°C)|
|September||78°F (26°C)||57°F (14°C)|
|October||68°F (20°C)||50°F (10°C)|
|November||57°F (14°C)||42°F (6°C)|
|December||50°F (10°C)||36°F (2°C)|
Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February
Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in July
Italy in August
Italy in September
Italy in October
Italy in November
Italy in December
10 Best Things to Do in Orvieto
There are definitely more than 10 things to do in Orvieto, but I think these are the best! After these, I’ve listed some of the other attractions that you may want to check out.
See Orvieto’s Duomo
Orvieto’s cathedral (aka Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta) is a must-see if you’re visiting. Many people come to town just to see it! The 13th-century cathedral’s façade has incredible golden and colorful mosaics, intricate stone reliefs, brass sculptures, and a rose window. Its setting in the piazza is powerful – sit on the wall benches opposite the façade and take it all in.
Then, head inside (€5 combo ticket that includes the Duomo Museum, Duomo Underground, and the Emilio Greco Museum) to see the treasured Luca Signorelli frescoes in the Chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio – colorful scenes of the Apocalypse. After, head to the opposite side of the cathedral, to the Chapel of the Corporal. The Chapel is home to the relic of the miracle of Bolsena – a linen altar cloth stained with blood that dripped from the host (bread used for Holy Communion).
Good To Know: There’s a public toilet (€0.50) just to the right of the Duomo. There’s also a water fountain and a small park with beautiful views.
Walk Down (and Back Up) St. Patrick’s Well
St. Patrick’s Well (Pozzo di San Patrizio) was dug in the 16th century at the special request of the Pope. It ensured the hilltop town would always have a water supply from the natural spring, even in the event of a siege or disaster.
Enjoy the 248 steps down – you’ll be walking back up, but not the same ones. The steps are set up as a double helix so that mules could walk up one side while other mules walked down the other.
Fun Fact: Wondering why it’s called St. Patrick’s Well? The Pope decided on the name because the well reminded him of the cave where St. Patrick prayed.
Good To Know: Make sure your shoes have good tread. The lower steps are moist and can be slick!
Climb Torre del Moro
If you enjoy climbing towers to see gorgeous views of the city or town you’re visiting, don’t miss this one! Orvieto already has a spectacular view from its hilltop position. The top of the Moro Tower (47 meters high) gives you an even better look at all of Orvieto and the surrounding countryside.
Worried about the climb? Catch the elevator at the beginning for a little boost (but you must walk up most of the stairs).
Tour the Orvieto Underground
Head underground on a 1-hour guided tour to see a small portion of Orvieto’s underground ‘city’ – an extensive network of caves and tunnels.
On the tour, you’ll see an old olive oil mill, wells, storage areas, columbariums (for pigeons), and a WWII bomb shelter.
It’s an interesting tour and a perfect break from the heat on a summer day.
Fun Fact: When you begin the tour, don’t miss the map of the underground city layered on the map of the ‘above ground’ Orvieto. The caves, rooms, and tunnels are all well-marked except under military areas, banks, and churches.
Visit the Pozzo della Cava
You may be thinking, “but do we really need to see another well?” Well, yes. (See what I did there?)
The self-guided visit takes 30-40 minutes and is well-signed in English. You’ll see the pozzo (cave), pottery kilns, Etruscan ruins, medieval garbage pits, and caves.
It’s an intimate and inexpensive look at a privately-owned museum. It’s great because you can move at your own pace.
See the View from the Albornoz Fortress
Albornoz Fortress, next to the top of the funicular track, now hosts Orvieto’s public gardens. It’s a bit run down, and there’s not much to look at.
The highlight is climbing up the stairs on the edge of the garden to get incredible views of Orvieto and its walls.
Good To Know: If you’re visiting in the late spring / early summer, there are jasmine flowers blooming all over the gardens!
Good To Know: If you want to do the Anello della Rupe Walk (see below) around the base of the tufo walls, you can depart from the Fortress.
Walk the Anello della Rupe
For a different perspective of Orvieto, walk the almost 5-kilometer loop around the base of the tufo walls.
It’s not strenuous, but there are a few short-but-steep uphills and downhills.
Good To Know: Be on the lookout for the Fontana di San Zeno, which gets water from the Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well)!
Taste Orvieto’s Wines
Whether at dinner or aperitivo, don’t miss the chance to try Orvieto wine at its source. The crisp white wine is perfectly refreshing in the summer heat!
The main grapes grown around Orvieto are Grechetto and Trebbiano. The wine itself is light and perfect on a warm summer evening. Salute!
If you enjoy the wines and want to learn more about them, you can visit one of the wineries in the surrounding countryside.
Shop in the Medieval Center
If you’d like to do some shopping in Orvieto, you’ll find plenty of local and Italian shops selling a variety of food and goods, including:
- majolica ceramics
- local foods – cured meats, olive oil, wine, truffles
- wood products
Wander Orvieto’s Streets in the Evening
If you’re staying in town, delight in the quiet streets after the daytrippers are gone. Have an after-dinner digestivo, catch the summer sunset, and marvel at the Duomo in an almost-empty piazza.
Other Things to Do in Orvieto
- Stop by the Thursday/Saturday morning market in Piazza del Popolo. While you’re in the square, check out the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (outside only).
- Watch the sunset from the town walls.
- Visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and Museo Claudio Faina. Excellent stops for Etruscan art fans.
- See a concert or performance in the Teatro Mancinelli.
- Visit the underground tunnels and caves and then have a meal at Il Labirinto di Adriano.
- Stop by the ruins of the Etruscan Temple of Belvedere and imagine what it would have looked like.
- Check out the unique 10-sided bell tower of the Chiesa di Sant’Andrea, strikingly similar to the bell tower of the Abbey of San Severo e Martirio (now a hotel) just outside of town.
- Admire the frescoes and the view at Orvieto’s oldest church, the Chiesa di San Giovenale.
The Orvieto Card (Carta Orvieto Unica) – Should You Buy It?
Unfortunately, with the price increase to €25, the Carta Orvieto Unica is no longer a great value unless you’re an adult visiting almost all of the town’s sites and attractions.
For example, if you plan to visit Orvieto in 2023 and see:
St. Patrick’s Well – €5
Duomo (& its Museum, Underground, and the Greco Museum) – €5
Moro Tower – €3.80
Orvieto Underground – €7
You’ll only spend €20.80, much less than the €25 for the Carta.
Good To Know: The Carta Orvieto Unica no longer includes a discount on the funicular.
There are also other Carta options, but they will save you around €2 only if you do everything on the card. I wouldn’t recommend buying them unless you’re certain you’ll visit every site included. The card is good for one year.
Good To Know: The Carta Orvieto Unica includes a 10% discount on some accommodations, restaurants, and shops. If you take advantage of these, the Carta is worth purchasing.
Eating in Orvieto
What to Eat in Orvieto
Don’t leave town without trying at least one of the area’s classic dishes or specialties:
- umbricelli (a thicker version of spaghetti)
- lumachelle orvietana (snail-shaped bread with cheese and pancetta)
- zuppa di castagne e ceci (chickpea/chestnut soup)
- cinghiale alla cacciatore (wild boar cooked with herbs, spices, tomatoes, and vegetables)
- tagliata con tartufo (sliced steak with truffles)
- gallina ‘mbriaca (‘drunk’ chicken cooked with vegetables and wine)
- zuppa di fava (fava soup)
- piccione (pigeon)
- vino di Orvieto (Orvieto wine)
- torta al testo (flatbread)
- tartufi (truffles)
Where to Eat in Orvieto
La Palomba – Family-run restaurant serving authentic Umbrian cuisine
Via Cipriano Manente, 16
I Sette Consoli – Elegant-without-being-stuffy, view of the Duomo from the garden
Piazza Sant’Angelo 1/a
Gelateria Pasqualetti – Our favorite gelato in town. Now with two locations – in Piazza del Duomo and on Via del Duomo.
Events in Orvieto
Feast of Corpus Christi
Every year, on the 9th Sunday after Easter, Orvieto honors the Miracle of Bolsena (the blood-stained cloth is in Orvieto’s Duomo) with a medieval parade and religious procession.
Winter Umbria Jazz
The winter edition of the popular Umbria Jazz Festival takes place in the days leading up to the New Year (the summer edition is in Perugia).
Where to Stay in and Around Orvieto
Inside Orvieto’s Walls
Relais Todini (45 minutes from Orvieto, but an amazing place!)
How To Get To Orvieto
Orvieto is easily reached by car or public transport. However you arrive, you’ll end up in Orvieto Scalo, the lower part of town. The best way to get to the upper historic center is to take the funicular from the train station.
Getting to Orvieto by Train
Orvieto is on the main train line between Florence and Rome. It’s about a 2-hour ride from Florence Santa Maria train station and a 1-hour ride from Rome Tiburtina train station (or 1 hr 15 min from Rome Termini train station).
Good To Know: There are direct trains from Florence and Rome – book these so you won’t need to worry about changing stations.
Good To Know: If you’re on a regional train, remember to validate your train ticket in one of the machines before you board the train.
Getting to Orvieto by Car
It’s also easy to arrive in Orvieto by car.
Arrive in Orvieto Scalo in about 2 hours from Florence and about 1.5 hours from Rome. It’s an easy drive on the A1 Autostrada and you get a great look at Orvieto perched high on the tufo.
If you’re coming from other towns in Umbria, you can take the E45.
Parking in Orvieto:
While you can drive up to the historic center, there is limited pay parking (and it gets full on weekends and during busy periods) and you must be careful to avoid the ZTL. The easiest thing to do is park in the huge free parking lot at the base of the funicular and take the funicular up to town. To find the lot when you enter Orvieto Scalo (lower Orvieto), follow signs for ‘funicolare.’
Good To Know: There are toilets (€0.50) and a cafe (where you can buy funicular tickets) at the base of the funicular.
Getting to Orvieto by Plane
The best airport to fly into is Rome Fiumicino (FCO). You’ll likely find the best rates from FCO, but you can also check rates and schedules for Rome Ciampino (CIA), Perugia (PEG), Florence (FLR) and Pisa (PSA).
From the airports, take a train or taxi, or rent a car and drive to Orvieto.
Getting to Orvieto by Bus
If you’re staying in a nearby town, you can reach Orvieto by bus, but it’s not well-connected otherwise.
Good To Know: Show your BUSITALIA bus ticket to get a €1 discount on the Carta Orvieto Unica.
How To Get Around Orvieto
Walking in Orvieto
Orvieto’s historic center (upper Orvieto) is easily visited on foot. It’s fairly flat and is stroller and wheelchair friendly. There are taxis available (+39 0763.301903) and a public bus system.
The best way to get between (lower) Orvieto Scalo and the (upper) historic center is to take the quick funicular (cable railway) up/down the hill. It leaves every 10 minutes and takes a couple of minutes. You can sit or stand.
Good To Know: When you arrive at the top of the funicular, you can catch a bus right in front of the station that takes you to Piazza del Duomo. It winds through the narrow medieval streets and drives a short section along the outside walls.
Visting Orvieto With Kids
Orvieto is perfect for kids who love to move. Climb a tower, explore underground caves, walk down into (and back out of) a deep well, and run around with other kids at the town playgrounds.
The historic center is fairly flat and compact, there’s plenty of shade for hot days, and you take a funicular to get to it!
For more details on visiting town with children, check out our post on Orvieto With Kids!
Things to Bring to Orvieto
Don’t forget to pack:
- good walking shoes for the underground tunnels, the tower climb, and the wells
- a scarf to cover bare shoulders in the Duomo
There is a left luggage office at the base of the funicular. Follow the large signs.
Orvieto offers spectacular views of the Umbrian countryside from its dramatic hilltop setting. But that’s not all – in Orvieto Italy you’ll find an elaborate underground network of caves and tunnels, a spectacular Duomo, characteristic medieval streets, its white wine, and delicious local cuisine!
Orvieto is well known for its Duomo (colorful façade, Luca Signorelli frescoes), its underground caves and tunnels, and its crisp white wines.
If you’re planning a road trip between Rome and Orvieto, you may want to stop in Narni, Terni, Todi, Lake Bolsena, or Civita di Bagnoregio.
Orvieto is a lovely, uncrowded hilltop town in Umbria, perfect for a day trip from larger busy cities like Florence or Rome. Visit the Orvieto cathedral or the town’s underground cave and tunnel network, and soak up the spectacular views!