In the footsteps of the Etruscans in and around Orvieto

In the footsteps of the Etruscans in and around Orvieto

Orvieto was the last of the Etruscan cities to succumb to Roman rule when the latter had finally conquered the entire area of Umbria.


There are still many traces of the pre-Roman world of the Etruscan city of Velzna, now Orvieto, and they are some of the finest remains in all of Umbria. So get ready for an exciting tour which begins in the centre of town. Here the Archaeological Area of the Tempio del Belvedere had preserved gorgeous architectural terracotta which can now be seen in the nearby museums. In the centre of town, not far from the lovely Piazza Duomo, the Museo Claudio Faina and Museo Civico as well as with the National Archaeological Museum, are all well worth a visit.


Continue your walk through town from there. After stopping in for a plate of traditional fare and a cool glass of Orvieto Classico DOC, and browing around to buy some typical Orvieto ceramics, head out to the Archaeological area of Via della Cava, where there are evident traces of an imposing Etruscan defensive wall, and stop in at the so-called Pozzo della Cava, (well in the quarry) carved into the cliff of tuff rock.

But to find out more about this ancient civilisation, leave the city centre behind and seek out the south-eastern slopes of the city where you will find the extensive Necropoli di Crocifisso del Tufo. Walk along clearly cut "streets" around neat blocks housing more than three hundred tombs that date back to the 4th and 2nd centuries BCE. Along the southern end, the Necropolis and Sanctuary of the Cannicella can also be toured on foot over the paths of the Archaeological Park of Orvietano (PAO); book your visit in advance.

We suggest you stay another day so that you can complete your Etruscan tour in the areas outside of Orvieto, where you will find the Vallone Necropolis, the Caldane necropolis and the Tomb of the Hescana, the only one where the ancient paint can still be seen. In summer you can add a visit to the archaeological digs that brought the remains of the Fanum Voltumnae to light. This federal Etruscan sanctuary has been of extraordinary importance in furthering our understanding of the history of these ancient people.

At the end of this journey, everything will be a bit less mysterious, but it will always fascinating.