Lofty fortress town
Off the A1, 104 km north of Rome. Orvieto is still a lofty fortress town, though the volcanic plateau on which she sits is wearing away. Your footsteps ring on the cobbles of the silent streets as you make your way between Renaissance façades to a Gothic cathedral (www.inorvieto.it/en/visit/orvieto_s_duomo.html) which took 300 architects and 300 years to complete. Signorelli’s finest frescos are inside, also works by Gentile da Fabriano and Lorenzo Maitani. The latter fashioned the extraordinary mosaics on the façade, illustrating Bible stories. See also the priceless reliquary of Ugolino di Vieri in its marble tabernacle. Sip the dry white Orvieto wine, the perfect accompaniment to Umbria’s river and lake fish, while admiring the view from the 12thC Piazza del Popolo. Descend St Patrick’s Well (www.inorvieto.it/en/visit/orvieto_below_the_surface/saint_patrick_s_well.html), the city’s 16thC water supply, a curious hole in the ground with two concentric spiral staircases. To add an extra layer of historical intrigue to your visit, look no further than La Badia, a hotel occupying a 13thC monastery.
Detour – Passo Corese
Off the A1, 72 km north of Orvieto. A former cavalry school and centre of equestrianism. Its ‘cemetery of champions’ has the graves of animals fondly remembered in the world ol horse trials, dressage and show-jumping. The Hall of the Lances in the main building is a museum and armoury. Outside occasional public events, Passo Corese is a working establishment but you may visit by prior arrangement with the Colonel-in-Charge, Equitation School.