Easy Day Trip from Rome: Orvieto

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.

20 thoughts on “Easy Day Trip from Rome: Orvieto

  1. kim says:

    That church looks beautiful, but its those cellars that I’d like to explore. I’m not a wine drinker, but being in a place like that, I think I’d start!

  2. LindyLouMac in Italy says:

    Orveito is just about 40 minutes from us, so time we paid another visit. I had not realised that Orveito also claim fame to the Est Est Est story as does Montefiascone . You may or may not have seen the posts about the story on my own blog.

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  4. Larry Aiello - Addicted2Italy says:

    I love the cathedral in Orvieto. It is probably one of the most “non-famous” cathedrals in Italy that should be famous. It flies under the radar, but it is definitely worth a visit.
    Thanks for sharing, pics came out good.

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  7. Caity says:

    I spent the fall of 2010 in Rome and visited Orvieto by myself one day. Hands down one of my favorite days ever. I visited the amazing cathedral and the underground caves but also spent the afternoon just wandering around, taking in everything. Such a wonderful place!

  8. DAVIDE says:

    One of the most beautiful sights in Orvieto is the San Brizio chapel, a masterpiece by Signorelli (with also works by Fra Angelico): Michelangelo passed months studying it, before making his Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.

    Also inside the cathedral the Corporale Chapel, with the relic of the very reason this cathedral was built: the Miracle of Bolsena (Bolsena on Bolsena lake it’s very close to Orvieto).

    Another wonder of Orvieto is Saint Patrick Well, probably unique. nice coincidence, today is Saint Patrick! Next time in Orvieto, go to visit it, even if it has nothing to do with the Irish saint!

    • Natalie says:

      I have an Irish husband so I am sure he would be interested in the last point! What great tips– thank you! We will be due to make another trip soon to see it all.

  9. Mehdi says:

    Planning a day trip from Rome, would you choose Orvieto or Assisi? I’m going for the town atmosphere and natural beauty (not religious).


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  11. Cassandra says:

    Which vineyard tours do you recommend in Orvieto? Heading that way in October. And did you take the same train the Italo Treno?

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