The delightful town of Orvieto is perched halfway between heaven and earth on a plateau over 900 feet above sea level. Take a funicular to the top of the cliff to visit the medieval historic center.
Orvieto has one of the most spectacular cathedrals in Italy! The town’s crowning jewel; the Romanesque-Gothic Duomo was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio. I love Lorenzo Maitani‘s bas-reliefs. The marble reliefs on the facade depict scenes from the Old and New Testament at the base of the pilasters on the front of the church. The fourth pier on the right of the Duomo shows the damned and the Ressurection of the Flesh. These scenes are similar to Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.
The Cathedral was started in 1290 when Pope Nicholas IV blessed the first stone. The inside and the outside of the Duomo are covered with basalt and travertine stripes. The façade has glistening mosaics including “The Coronation of the Virgin” in the central gable. A 14th century rose-shaped stained glass window by Orcagna is surrounded by carved statues of saints.
Every year, this charming town hosts the annual Umbria Winter Jazz Festival between December 29th and January 2nd. The events include 400 artists with 250 concerts including performances by Chick Corea, Stefano Bollani and other notable jazz performers.
Attend the outdoor Jazz Concert on New Year’s Eve. Stay for the Gospel Performance in front of the Cathedral on New Year’s Day.
Visit the Museum next door to the Duomo in the former Papal Palace to see sculptures by Andrea Pisano and Luca Signorelli’s beautiful “Mary Magdalene.” Orvieto’s shops are loaded with painted pottery. One of the local artists makes beautiful bowls and furniture carved from olive wood. There are plenty of cafes, wine bars and restaurants. Visit the Piazza del Popolo and try Orvieto’s famous D.O.C. wine.
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