If you’re planning a trip to Rome and will only have time to stay in the city, you may also have the urge to explore more of Italy, in particular, the countryside. Fortunately, there are quite a few options to spend a day in the countryside from the Italian capital, and a Rome to Orvieto day trip is a great way to get an idea of what the dreamy Italian countryside is like as well as the magical city of Orvieto.
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Getting To & Around Orvieto
Orvieto is an extremely convenient town to reach from Rome. This makes it one of the best options for a day trip into the delicious and rolling region of Umbria.
From the main station in Rome (Termini Station), there are trains departing to Orvieto just about every hour. Due to these trains being regional trains rather than high-speed, they’re usually quite empty so you don’t need to worry about not being able to have a spot on your chosen train.
The journey will take just over an hour to ninety minutes, and then you will be in the picturesque gothic hill city of Orvieto. You can view train schedules here.
It’s important to note that Orvieto consists of two parts; the new part, Orvieto Scalo (the less exciting part) which is where you will arrive at the train station, and the medieval part, Orvieto Monte (where we will be visiting).
Orvieto Monte is perched above the Umbrian hills looking dramatically over the region of Umbria. This is the iconic hilltop town that many imagine when thinking of this area of Italy. To reach the old part you’ll have to take the funicular to the top of the hill, which is located directly across from the train station.
The funicular runs every ten minutes so you don’t need to worry about missing your ride up. It takes only a few minutes to reach the old town as you start to witness the striking facade of Orvieto.
Once you reach the old town it’s quite easy to get around. Upon arriving at the funicular arrival station in the old town, you have two choices to reach the main area.
You can either walk for about 15 minutes or take the bus that departs from the funicular and arrives at the Duomo di Orvieto (Orvieto Cathedral). The walk is quite short and a beautiful stroll but it is also nice to have the option to take the bus for whatever reason need be.
From there, the only way to get around is on foot. The center is quite small so this isn’t an issue and offers a direct view of the city.
If you prefer to go on a guided tour to Orvieto there are a number of options including this day tour that combines Orvieto and Assisi or this day tour that combines Orvieto with Civita di Bagnoregio.
One Day in Orvieto Itinerary
Rising dramatically above the Umbrian countryside is the enchanting walled city of Orvieto.
Over 3,000 years old with roots going back to Etruscan Italy, this city boasts an exciting history above and below and offers so much for visitors looking to get away from the tourist crowds in Rome.
During your time in Orvieto, you’ll explore what the city is known for, witness its fairytale views, and savor delicious Umbrian delicacies.
St. Patrick’s Well
A great place to begin your day in Orvieto is at the St. Patrick’s Well (or il Pozzo di San Patrizio).
The St. Patrick’s Well is located directly across from where you will depart from the funicular in the old town of Orvieto, making it the perfect point to begin exploring Orvieto.
Built by the architect Antonio da Sangallo sometime in the 1500s at the request of Pope Clement VII after his refuge in Orvieto, the well is now one of the most popular attractions in Orvieto.
The well isn’t just popular and loved by tourists but also by locals due to its gorgeous scenery near the Orvieto Gardens. The well plunges to a depth of over 54 meters with two spiral staircases consisting of 248 stairs. These stairs are still open for visitors to peek into the illuminated windows of the well dating back to medieval times.
The well is open daily with hours differing depending on the time of year you visit, so make sure to check the daily schedule for when you plan to visit.
No Orvieto day trip from Rome is complete without visiting the famous Orvieto Cathedral (Duomo di Orvieto). It’s hard to miss the dramatically grand cathedral sticking out from within the small Umbrian town.
To reach the Cathedral, make your way down the main street, Corso Cavour, and you’ll find the cathedral peeking out from the left.
Some say that the Orvieto Cathedral is one of the most beautiful in Italy and you’ll not be surprised by that when you witness it for yourself. Construction of the Orvieto Duomo began in 1290 and now has been graciously standing over Orvieto for over 800 years.
Various mosaics, stripes, spikes, stained glass, frescoes and more pieces of art adorn the part of the Cathedral known as the San Brizio Chapel and the rescue work by Luca Signorelli is truly remarkable.
If you’re interested in diving deeper into the history and stories of the Duomo, there are many options for guided tours, whether through locals or tour companies. There’s no doubt that visiting the Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Orvieto.
Piazza della Repubblica
The Piazza della Repubblica is known to most as the center square of the city of Orvieto. Here you will find a fair amount of restaurants, shops, and the Sant’Andrea Church, which was where Pope Innocent declared the beginning of the fourth Crusade.
This “Square of the Republic” is a great place to take a break, have a coffee, do some people-watching, and browse in the shops that are within the piazza.
About a 3-minute walk from the Piazza della Repubblica is Trattoria del Moro Aronne, a favorite trattoria by locals. One of the best parts about visiting this town in Umbria is its cuisine so you’re more than obligated to feast on its decadent offerings.
Enjoy truffles galore, local wild boar, and many different local and regional specialties that will make you wish you were staying longer in the city of Orvieto.
Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo
After a classic Umbrian lunch at Trattoria del Moro Aronne, make your way back onto Corso Cavour. After a quick two-minute walk, you’ll find yourself at the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo.
The Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo is another interesting spot to spend some time. This palace was first built in the 14th century and was once home to its namesake, the Captain of the People.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Captain of the People was a well-known and well-respected figure within Italy. In his role as Captain, he represented the people and thus gained respect not just from those in Orvieto, but also throughout the country.
Later, the Palace became home to the mayor of Orvieto. Today the palace is mainly used for exhibitions but is also open for visitors.
Torre del Moro
About a three-minute walk south of Corso Cavour is the Torre del Moro. There aren’t many places to have the opportunity to see all of Orvieto in its beauty from above, and the Torre del Moro is one of the few.
No visit to an Umbrian or Tuscan city/town is complete without discovering the tower(s) that watch over the city. Orvieto’s is the Torre del Moro. Torre del Moro translates to “Tower of the Moor”, named after the district of Orvieto where the tower resides.
Built in the 13th century, the tower was first constructed to serve as the main cistern for the city’s first aqueduct system. Much later, in 1876, the tower was fitted with a clock and then became what it is still today, a bell tower.
From the top of the tower, you will witness unrivaled views over Orvieto as well as the dramatically calm Umbrian countryside.
Ceramics & Shopping
Since around the 13th century, the city of Orvieto has been a pilgrimage site for ceramic and pottery lovers. With roots dating back to Etruscan Italy, Orvieto is a must-visit for lovers of ceramics.
Ceramics are a quintessential part of the culture of Orvieto and you must spend at least a little time browsing the ceramic shops. There are dozens on dozens of little ceramic shops lining the streets with local artisans happy to assist you and present to you their proud works of art.
You’ll find a wide variety of colors, designs and forms of pottery. If ceramics aren’t your thing and you’d still like to browse and do some shopping, there are still many other shops in Orvieto for you to visit.
The majority of shops are found on Piazza del Duomo and Corso Cavour, but you’ll also find shops spread out in the city. Here you’ll find artisanal shops with works varying from wood, to jewelry, sculpture, and clothing.
After getting to know the city of Orvieto from above, there’s no better way to finish your day than to explore Orvieto from below.
Near the Piazza Duomo, you’ll find the entry to Orvieto underground. Built upon volcanic rock, the Orvieto underground is a labyrinth of over 440 caves and 1200 tunnels beneath the city that has assisted those in the area for thousands of years.
These structures went virtually undiscovered for quite a long time until the 1970s when a landslide opened the labyrinth from above and let us into its history and our discovery. From below, you’ll experience Orvieto through almost every period of its long history.
From the Etruscan “Velzana” period, through the Medieval as well as the Renaissance period, you’ll witness what has made Orvieto the magical city it is today and how it has quite literally risen from below over the course of 2,500 years.
It’s important to note that it isn’t possible to visit the underground city independently and you must take part in a guided tour for your visit. Tours take about one hour and are offered in a few different languages. Tickets can be purchased from the ticketing office outside of the main entrance.
The end of the tour will take you directly to the St. Patrick’s Well that we first visited at the beginning of this Orvieto itinerary. From there, you’ll end up right back at the entrance of the Funicular to take you back down to the Orvieto station and head back to Rome.
Where to Stay in Rome
Barberini Dream – Situated a stone’s throw from the Trevi Fountain, this is a great upmarket choice for those looking for a great stay in Rome. They have a number of clean and comfortable rooms available, are pet friendly and have an excellent location for exploring the Italian capital and beyond.
Domus Palatina – This mid-range hotel is a good choice, especially if you plan on taking a few day trips from Rome as it’s located quite close to the main train station. They have a range of air-conditioned rooms and even include a hearty breakfast in the room rate.
Trianon Borgo Pio Aparthotel – For those looking for their own private apartment in Rome, this aparthotel is an excellent option. They offer a range of different fully furnished flats suitable for different group sizes. It is also well located and breakfast is available each morning.
The RomeHello Hostel – If you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget, this hostel is a fantastic choice Loacted within easy reach of Rome’s top sites, they have a range of both dorm beds and private rooms available. There are also great common areas making it easy to meet other travellers.
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The crowds in Rome can get quite overwhelming and you may feel the itch to get to somewhere quieter during your visit to the Italian capital. Orvieto is the perfect excursion from Rome, as it’s an incredibly captivating city looking over the hills of Umbria and beyond.
From its rich Etruscan history in pottery to the mouthwatering truffle pasta, there’s something for everyone to experience during a visit on a day trip to Orvieto from Rome.
Are you planning to visit Orvieto? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!