A neat landscape and sweet, green hills provide the background to the wonderful town of Orvieto, rising on a tuff and pozzolana block some 50 meters (150 feet) high – a basement for what we may call a “hanging town.”
The Rupe (cliff), overlooking the valley in which Paglia River flows, will let you admire the place in all of its majesty thanks to a walkway called Anello della Rupe, the Cliff's Ring. With its ups and downs and sweet slopes, it is nearly 5 kilometers (2.5 miles) long. It runs along the Albornoz Fortress, then passes by two town gates, Porta Soliana and Porta Maggiore, leading to the Fountain of Saint Zeno and a former convent called La Badia; and most of all, it will make you wow at the huge rocks and Nature all around. An ideal background for hiking in the green, both adults and kids.
The volcanic origin of the rocks and the varied geological strata created many underground caves during the centuries. In fact, the “hanging town” hides grottoes, tunnels and secret passages in its interior: they can be visited thanks to the Orvieto Sotterranea, tours, an enveloping experience that will make you hear the voices of the Past.
Going back up to the surface, you will meet the Medieval part of the town, that in 1157 had become a “free Commune.” In that era of welfare and splendor, the rulers designed and built monuments that are now Orvieto's flagships, such as the Cathedral, the Town Hall, the People's Palace with its Sala dei Quattrocento (Hall of the Four Hundred Men), Palazzo dei Sette (Palace of the Seven), and Moro's Tower.
Precisely on top of the tower, 50 meters (150 feet) high, you will enjoy a breathtaking view on the valley. There a rich Etruscan Necropolis also exists, that includes some 200 well preserved graves: a memory of that ancient civilization, which is documented from no less than the ninth century BC.
In this meeting of earth and sky lies the uniqueness and beauty of Orvieto. What soars upward has a correspondence in that which hides underground, like the Well of Saint Patrick, a masterpiece of Renaissance engineering, some 60 meters (180 feet) deep. On going down its 248 steps, you will undergo a magic experience of echoes and sounds.
To all those who love Medieval atmospheres, walking in Orvieto's streets will mean finding – still nowadays – many artisan workshops where leather or wood are manufactured, or ceramics shaped. In every season, the smells and tastes originating from agriculture and pastures, such as oil, wine, chestnuts, and gourmet sausages, will accompany your walks in the old streets.
The most deeply felt historical and religious event that takes place here happens at Pentecost: it is called Festa della Palombella, the “Festival with a Dove.” All citizens meet in Cathedral Square and welcome a dove that, in a symbolic flight, recalls the Holy Spirit descending on Virgin Mary and the Apostles. A feast of colors and sweet smells, also because of the Infiorate, the flower-deckings with which the four town quarters embellish the streets and squares.