ORVIETO: ETRUSCAN CAPITAL
Orvieto is a unique city, perched and rolled up like a cat on a high cliff, detached from the rest of the world, enchanting and fairytale. A city where every stone, every square breathes inhistory, a true open-air museum that offers visitors a breathtaking landscape.
Come and visit a village of rare beauty and of ancient history. It has been much appreciated also in the cinematographic field. Famous exponents of the international cinema, such as Colin Firth or Daniel Craig, the last sensational James Bond, often go around the historic streets of the ancient city. The latter has remained so enchanted by the beautiful Orvieto, which seems to be looking for a house in these parts. Even Martin Scorsese is among the many admirers of the excellent cuisine of Orvieto. And do not be surprised if you happen to meet the charming Richard Gere, a regular guest at Villa Malva, home to a modern recording studio, along with Celine Dion.
Orvieto stands on a cliff of tufa that dominates the valley of the river Paglia, this tuff table is what remains of the collapse of clouds and inflamed landslides by the volcanic activity of the Volsinio system, relict of the caldera that houses the largest volcanic lake in Europe, that of Bolsena.
The earliest archaeological evidence of the city of Orvieto dates back to the Etruscan period and identifies it in the city of Velzna, among the twelve Etruscan city-states. The ancient Romans gave it the name "Volsinii", the city stood near an important Etruscan sanctuary, where the inhabitants of Etruria joined to celebrate religious rites, parties and various ceremonies.
The city reached its maximum expansion between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, becoming a splendid commercial and artistic center.
In 264 BC it was destroyed by theRomans and the inhabitants were deported to the shores of the nearby LakeBolsena, where Volsinii Novi (Bolsena) was built. Some centuries later, themedieval town of Ourbibentos was rebuilt on the Orvietan rock, which over timebecame a new city with the name of Urbs Vetus (old city).
In the following centuries Orvieto became dominion of the Goths, it was then conquered by theByzantines to become finally Lombard.
Allied then of Florence, inthe XIII and XIV centuries it reached the period of the real climax that, witha population of about thirty thousand inhabitants (superior even to that ofRome), saw in its urban territory important buildings and monuments.
In 1450 it became part of the Papal States, becoming an alternative to Rome for manypopes, bishops and cardinals who came to stay there.