Today we once again headed across the Umbrian border towards the simply stunning city of Orvieto. Located in the heart of Umbria, perched atop a spectacular volcanic rocky plateau the natural fortress is protected on all sides by sheer cliffs. The rock of Orvieto has been an important settlement for civilisations since the 8th century BC when the Etruscans regarded it as their most important town. The town remained Etruscan until the 3rd century when the Romans finally conquered the town by starving the Etruscans out, waiting for their food supplies to have diminished and strength to have weakened before storming the hill top town and winning the battle for ownership.
During the 13th century AD as a result of the civil war in Rome, Pope Urban lived their constructing the Papal Palace and commissioning the Duomo, and what a spectacular sight it is to behold. Walking around the corner in to the Piazza you are just struck with the share size and magnificence of it against the bright blue sky, it simply shimmers with beauty. The Duomo houses many treasures and relics among them the stunning frescoes by Luca Signorelli adorning the San Brizio chapel, a link to our home base in Cortona where we like to sit and sip a glass of Prosecco at Bar Signorelli in Piazza della Republica, where a portrait of Luca hangs proudly on the wall.
It is outside the Duomo that we met our guide Emanuela, born in Orvieto she was able to regale us with such history, anecdotes and tales of life through the ages to the current day, including the installation of the bronze doors that now adorn the front of the Duomo. Such outrage by the people of Orvieto at the idea of bronze doors that they were installed in the dead of night as the people slept. No small feat by any imagination just looking at the size of them.
Evidence of the Etruscan occupation can be seen in archaeological excavations under the predominantly medieval buildings and much of the construction from the middle ages is still in use for example the beautiful entrance to the city, Porta Maggiore. The city is now divided in to four quarters: Corsica, Serancia, Olm and Santa maria della Stella.
After our fabulous guided tour we made our way to lunch at the outstanding restaurant Martinelli Maurizo just along from the Duomo where we dined on succulent steak, pasta and soup coupled with tastings of olive oil, balsamic and washed down with a nice glass of vino blanca.
A couple of hours spent strolling the cobbled lane ways taking in the other stunning sights on offer and of course a little spot of shopping left us more than ready to board our chariot for home before yet another lovely experience dining at Tonino in Piazza Garibaldi overlooking the valley from Cortona.