A girl can only take so much of Rome’s noise before the urge to spend a Sunday outside of the city begins to take hold. An old stand by for an easy day trip from Rome is Orvieto. The Umbrian hilltop town is a short train ride away and offers a completely different feel from the Italian capital.
Catch a train in the morning, walk out of the station in Orvieto and hop on the funicular (1 euro each way). Exiting and turning left will offer a gorgeous view of the surrounding valleys (even on cloudy days with only a phone to capture the scene).
You can follow the majority of the crowd up the main cobblestone street. If you’re hungry, look right down via S. Leonardo and you’ll find Trattoria del Moro.
Settle in for the some vino and paparadelle al cinghiale- pasta with wild boar ragu that’s popular in Umbria and Tuscany.
Fully fueled, set off once more towards the center of town for Orvieto’s most famous landmark: the cathedral.
The cathedral took nearly 300 years to finish. Three. Hundred. Years. It’s worth a looksie- trust me.
After a gander at the truly impressive church, it’s time to check out Orvieto’s other claim to fame: wine
Orvieto was famous for it’s wine even before it was famous for it’s 14th century cathedral. Around 1100, a German bishop was making his way to Rome. But priorities are important, and so he sent a scout ahead to identify taverns with good wine to ensure a pleasant journey. The story goes that the scout would write “Est” (Latin: “This is it”) on the outside of taverns with decent vino.
The scout was so blown away the first time he tried Orvieto’s signature white wine that he wrote “EST! EST! EST!”. His boss found the tavern and agreed. The bishop never made it to Rome, and spent the rest of his life enjoying the Umbrian white.
After a bottle of Orvieto Classico, it’s time to explore the streets of the village.
Each of those houses has a cellar underneath, carved into the volcanic rock of the hillside. The caves have been used for everything from wells, to olive oil presses, to pigeon coops and bomb shelters, depending on the century.
Most of the cellars and tunnels are private but you can take a tour of a few if you want to see Orvieto from below.
English language tours cost 6 euro, and leave from the same piazza that the cathedral dominates.
But my favorite thing about Orvieto is that you don’t really need an itinerary. The town is well suited for a day of meandering, eating and drinking.