With its beautifully preserved old town, unique cliff-top setting and famous foodie culture, the enchanting city of Orvieto is one of Italy’s hidden treasures.
Perched high on a volcanic plateau above the Umbrian hills and populated since Etruscan times, Orvieto is an ancient fortress city with an abundance of charm. Often viewed as a day trip destination on account of its accessible location between Florence and Rome, visitors who spend a little longer here will be rewarded with incredible architecture, gourmet cuisine and unspoilt scenery.
Wander the winding streets of Orvieto’s medieval centre, explore the labyrinth of tunnels and caves that lie beneath the city, take coffee - or lunch - at Enoteca al Duomo, marvel at the stunning cathedral with its exquisite facade, admire the jaw-dropping landscape of olive groves, cypress trees and vineyards, and then sample some of the region’s prized wines at one of the many atmospheric bars that pepper the city’s charming cobbled alleyways.
Although only a small city, Orvieto offers a broad range of accommodation with everything from urban boltholes to rustic rural retreats. If a central location and contemporary comforts are amongst your priorities then Hotel Palazzo Piccolomini - a 16th century palace turned four star hotel - is a solid choice within the city. But if you’re looking for something a little further afield, then Antichi Casali di Charme - a 78 hectare estate tucked away in the Umbrian hills - offers unique and exclusive accommodation in a serene setting. Similarly, around ten minutes drive from the city, Locanda Palazzone delivers elegant, informal luxury, a superb restaurant and spectacular views to Orvieto and the surrounding countryside. Both of these also offer guests a range of viticultural and gastronomic activities from guided tastings and tours of the vineyards / winery, to truffle hunts and cookery classes.
As with all Italian cities, food and wine are an important part of the fabric here. Much of the focus is on seasonality, sustainability and simplicity with regional produce such as wild boar, black truffles and Caciotta, championed in the city’s celebrated cuisine. Amongst the many high quality restaurants in town, I Sette Consoli with its creative contemporary menu, beautiful orchard garden and 900 label strong wine cellar, and La Palomba - a rustic family-run trattoria serving Umbrian specialities - are particularly notable.
The same is true of the city’s drinking dens. From the quaint and quirky to the modern and minimalistic, Orvieto’s bars are bound by a common passion for local wines and a convivial atmosphere. Plates of truffle bruschetta, cured meats and local cheeses are often served to accompany plummy Umbrian reds and elegant, dry whites. The aforementioned Enoteca al Duomo and the irresistibly charming Bottega Vèra are favourites amongst visitors and locals, but almost everywhere here comes recommended.
So if you’re looking for an off-the-radar food and wine destination, with a dramatic setting and bags of history, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere better than Orvieto.
Via del Duomo 36/38, Orvieto, 05018
Piazza del Duomo 13, Orvieto, 05018
Piazza Sant'Angelo 1A, Orvieto, 05018
Via Cipriano Manente 16, Orvieto, 05018
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