One of the most popular day trips from Rome is to the historical hilltop town of Orvieto. In one day, you can see most of the main attractions if you plan your time well.
However, with a myriad of cool things to do in Orvieto both above and underground, you will wish you had more time being such a great short break in Italy.
A wealth of history lies below the city’s streets ready to tell tales all the way back to Etruscan times.
But only a small part of it is actually open to the public as most of it is private property. Make sure you don’t miss out on what’s available with this Orvieto one day itinerary.
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Things to do in Orvieto in one day
Get ready to explore deep wells, tall towers with sweeping views, underground tunnels, and a marvelous Duomo!
I’ll go through the things to do in Orvieto in a day in the recommended order so that you can get the most out of your day.
Top tip! Get an Orvieto card before you go, it includes all the most important Orvieto attractions that you’ll want to do including the cable car up and down to the old town.
St. Patricks Well (Pozzo di San Patrizio)
Once you get up with the cable car, you find the grand St. Patricks Well to your right. The tickets can be bought (free with the Orvieto Card) in the office next to the exit of the cable car.
There’s no denying this is one of the best things to do in Orvieto. The 54 meter deep well is truly incredible to look down and once you’ve walked the 248 steps down to the bottom, it gives a different symmetrical impression.
On the opposite side of the cable car exit, you find Fortezza Albornoz. The remains of the fortress are still spectacular. If you have the time before heading to Orvieto Underground, go for a stroll in the astounding castle gardens for spectacular views of Orvieto Valley below.
It’s free to enter and makes for a nice, tranquil break on a busy day.
The splendor of Orvieto is not only found in its enchanting streets. Orvieto Underground is just as big a part of the city’s history as any.
Sitting on a volcanic hill where the inhabitants have been excavating in the soft TRUFA all the way back to Etruscan times, both to get materiel to build and to use the underground for anything from creating olive oil to farming doves. All these 1200 underground chambers and tunnels are private property.
Lucky for you, there are parts that are open for guided tours so you can experience it for yourself and learn more about the city’s exceptional history.
Top tip for Orvieto Underground
Book your tour in advance so that you can plan your day trip accordingly. You can rock around on the things to do on the square by the Duomo to fit the time of your underground tour.
The splendor of Orvieto is no doubt the astonishing cathedral, the exceptionally decorated facade takes all the attention away from the rest of the square. The details are unique like no other cathedral in the country.
Though the best part is the outside, don’t skip a tour of the inside. With massive marble columns lining each side, fascinating sculptures, and beguiling decorations, it will leave you in awe.
Visit a museum
If you have the time before lunch, visit one of the museums on the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square.)
Museo Claudio Faina is an interesting museum where you can maze at a large private collection of Etruscan artifacts.
Orvieto Archaeological Museum is also one of the best places to visit in Orvieto to learn about Etruscan history and way of living.
Museo Emilio Greco showcases a great collection of art by Emilio Greco.
These are all included in the Orvieto card.
Tip for lunch! There are multiple restaurants between Piazza del Duomo and Torre del Moro. To avoid wasting too much time looking for a place to eat, I recommend going to one of these, or walk past the Torre del Moro to eat mouthwatering pizza at Piazza del Popolo.
Enjoy sweeping views from Torre del Moro
Climbing to the top of Torre del Oro is the best way to enjoy sweeping views of the Medieval town. Past the terracotta rooftops, you can see the green hills of Umbria, Lazio, and Tuscany regions.
The tower is the most prominent structure in Orvieto second to the cathedral, with the 47-meter high clock tower being visible from far as you walk up the cozy streets leading to it.
The clock was first added to the tower in 1866, while the tower itself, was built in the 13th-century by the Dei Della Terza family.
If you don’t want to exhaust yourself completely, there is an elevator taking you to the second floor, but the rest of the 250 steps to the top has to be done by foot. The Torre del Moro is also included in the Orvieto Card.
Piazza della Republica
A short walk from Torre del Moro leads you to the Piazza della Republica, another stupifying square. The interesting Piazza Communale stands wall to wall with the unusual 12-sided tower of Chiesa di Sant’Andrea.
Originally, the church dates back to the 12th century and two popes have been appointed there. Several architectural changes have been done to it since it was built, but it’s still an incredible structure worth a peek.
Pozzo della Cava
As mentioned before, Orvieto is jam-packed with underground tunnels, rooms, and wells. One of the best things to do in Orvieto is to visit the 36-meter deep Etruscan well, Pozzo della Cava.
There are actually two different wells. Besides the Etruscan well, there is a Renaissance well, and you can walk around the excavated halls and rooms around the well.
It was only in 1996 that Pozzo della Cava was restored to display to the public but it quickly turned into one of the most important Orvieto attractions.
Pozzo della Cava is included in the Orvieto card. Without, it costs 4 Euros to enter.
Walk Anello della Rupe
Straight down from Pozzo della Cava, walk through Porta Maggiore, and turn right until you get to Anello della Rupe walking path that takes you around the old city walls – or better said, the rock wall that the city is sitting atop.
It is an easy walk which offers sweeping views of the countryside outside the city and gives a feel of exactly how grand the rock the town is sitting on actually is. And you can only imagine the multitude of hidden tunnels behind what you see.
You’ll walk past a discreet, locked church door in the rock wall. The church dug into the rock wall, is only open once a year. Legend has it that a crucified soldier threw himself over the cliff’s edge at this exact spot and survived.
Continue a little further and walk down the left path to the Etruscan Necropolis before finishing the walk that finalizes with an exhilarating section where a boardwalk pinned to the side of the rock wall takes you up towards the historic center.
Below the tufa walls of today’s Orvieto, lay the remnants of an ancient Etruscan civilization. Neatly placed tombs characteristically shaped like square blocks resembling houses mark the most notable signs of the old civilization in the area.
Note that the closing time on Thursday to Saturday is 15:00, so if you go any of those days, you might want to reorganize your day and see this earlier so that you don’t meet closed doors. See updated opening hours here.
Reflections on one day in Orvieto Italy
There are so many amazing things to do in Orvieto, Italy, and one day is barely enough. Yet, for anyone going on a day trip to this wonderfully ancient town, this Orvieto itinerary will get you to the most important places.
If you have time after, or if you want to skip any of the listed attractions, take your time getting a little lost in the cobblestoned streets and take in the aroma of freshly baked pizza and strong coffee. Imagine how these streets felt like back in the days when the Etruscans protected their hilltop land against the Romans.
I find it hard to believe that Orvieto will disappoint you. It certainly stood to my expectations and so much more!