Key to Umbria: Orvieto

Walk III: From Piazza del Popolo

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Ranieri della Greci ordered the building of the Palazzo del Popolo here in 1281 to  house the newly dominant magistracy of the Popolo.  He demolished a number of properties in front of it, [including the monastery of Santa Croce] to create a new civic space that counter-balanced:

  1. Piazza del Duomo - see Walk I and

  2. Piazza Maggiore (now Piazza della Repubblica) - see Walk II.  

Today, the piazza  has a disappointingly run down appearance, although it comes to life on Saturdays, when the parked cars are moved away for the weekly market.

The bust at the foot of the external steps of Palazzo del Popolo portrays Adolfo Cozza (1848-1910), a sculptor, archeologist and and inventor  who was born in Orvieto and who joined the "red shirts" of Giuseppe Garibaldi as a young man.  He designed (among many other things) the funicular railway that now links the city to the railway station (see below).

Proceeding in a counter-clockwise direction, Palazzo Simoncelli dominates the west end of the piazza.


                                  San Rocco                          Right side of Palazzo dei Sette             Torre del Moro                  

                         in Piazza del Popolo                   in Via della Costituente              and main wing of palace

                                                                                                                                                 in Corso Cavour

San Rocco stands in the middle of the south side of Piazza del Popolo, at the corner of Via della Costituente.   This church formed part of the complex of the Palazzo dei Sette, the third public palace of Orvieto, used by the magistracy of seven representatives of the trade guilds known as the Signori Sette .  Take a short detour by turning right along Via della Costituente, which runs along the right side of this L-shaped palace.  Continue to the junction with Corso Cavour to see what was the Torre Civico (now known as Torre del Moro), with the second wing of Palazzo dei Sette beyond

The inscription on the corner of Via della Costituente quotes from Dante's “Divine Comedy” (Canto VI, 106-7):

Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti, Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man!

Those sad already and those doubt-depressed!

Thus the Monaldeschi and Filippeschi of Orvieto, like the Montecchi and Capuleti of Verona, suffer in Purgatory and provide a warning to the cruel.

Return to Piazza del Popolo and turn right to continue the counter-clockwise circuit, past Palazzo Bracci (Hotel Reale).

Continuing the circuit, the de-consecrated churches of San Bernardo and San Carlo Borromeo stand next to each other behind a common facade at the east end of the piazza.

Complete the circuit and leave Piazza del Popolo by turning right along in Via del Popolo.  San Salvatore (now the Istituto SS Salvatore) is at number 1.

Follow Via del Popolo as it turns left, and continue into the car park.  An access point to the Anello della Rupe (ring around the cliff) is to the right.  Follow it down to see the remains of Porta Vivaria, a gate that opened on to a narrow path down the cliff that was used in times of war.

You can continue down the path to the necropolis of the Crocifisso del Tufo, although you can alternatively visit the necropolis as part of Walk IV.   If you decide to do it now, walk down the steep path that was recently built to allow tourist access to it.  Before returning up the path, detour right along it to see the Cappella del Crocifisso del Tufo to see the crucifix carved into the tufa for which the chapel and necropolis are named.

Retrace your steps as far as Via Corsica and turn left along it.  Turn left into Via della Pace, which leads to Piazza XXIX Marzo.  The square commemorates seven men from Orvieto who were arrested by the Fascists on suspicion of having supported the Resistance, tortured and executed on 29th March, 1944 at Camorena di Orvieto.  These events are recorded in this inscription over the entrance to Pizzeria San Domenico, on the right.  
The church of San Domenico is on the left.

Continue along Via Arnolfo di Cambio into Piazza Angelo da Orvieto.  The headquarters of the Ministry of Justice on the left stands on the site of the Dominican nunnery of San Pietro.  The nuns moved to to San Paolo in 1815 and the nunnery here was demolished in 1864. 

Take a short detour by continuing along Via Arnolfo di Cambio/ Via Roma to the junction with the next street on the left.  This street (which is now a cul-de-sac) leads to an area known as Vigna Grande, which was the site of an ancient temple now known as the the Tempio di Vigna Grande that no longer survives.  This temple and the nearby Tempio del Belvedere (below) were outside the main urbanised area of Etruscan Volsinii.

Retrace your steps and turn left across the piazza, past the de-consecrated church and ex-monastery of Sant' Antonio Abate on the left.   (The church is now used as a gymnasium).

Continue along Via Angelo da Orvieto to Corso Cavour.   This was originally called Via Mercanzia, and was the main thoroughfare of the medieval city from Porta Maggiore (see Walk IV) to Porta Postierla (see below).  The church of Sant’ Angelo is opposite, with the excellent restaurant "I Sette Consoli" at right angles to it and a nice view of the left transept and campanile of the Duomo to the right.

Turn right on leaving the church, and continue along Corso Cavour, past Santo Stefano on the right (number 246).  Take a short detour along Via Santo Stefano to the left of it to see its tiny pensile apse. 

Continue along Corso Cavour to Santa Maria dei Servi on the left (in Via Belisario I).  Walk along the left side of the church and take a detour behind it, to see the original apse. 

Continue to Via Roma and turn right along it.  The two entrances on the left guarded by flying eagles belong to the ex-Caserma Piave (airforce barracks).  This huge complex was built in 1932-6 on what was known as the Vigna Grande (large vineyard).  It now houses the Liceo Artistico.

Continue into Piazza Cahen, named for Edoardo Cahen, a Jewish banker who provided funds for the struggle to achieve a united Italy and was made a marquis by King Umberto I in 1885.  Turn left and cross Via della Stazione, and walk past the remains of the Tempio del Belvedere on the right.

Turn right into the park and follow the path round the remains of the temple.  The steps ahead lead down to the Pozzo di San Patrizio

Continue to re-enter Piazza Cahen along the left side of the terminus of the funicular railway.  The railway was designed by Adolfo Cozza in 1888 under the auspices of the mayor, Giacomo Bracci.  The upper part of the track passes through a tunnel that was excavated under Rocca del Albornoz (see below).  This original system, which was driven by water power, survived until 1970.  The present electric system was inaugurated in 1990.  (Electric buses from here run frequently to the city centre).

Cross the front of the the terminus of the funicular railway and turn left into the park on the site of Rocca del Albornoz

On leaving the park, turn left and left again through what was the second entrance to the Rocca and continue down (between the inner and outer curtain walls) ....

..... to Porta Postierla.

You can take a detour here of some 2.5 km to the Abbazia di SS Severo e Martirio.  Turn left downhill on Strada Fontana del Lione, then right at the end along the main road.  The first turning on the left takes you to the abbey (signed to the hotel, La Badia di Orvieto)

However, it is probably more convenient to take the alternative route set out in Walk IV, which returns  to this point.

Retrace your steps to Piazza Cahen and leave it along Via Postierla (to the left).  King Victor Emanuel III unveiled the war memorial on the left in 1928 in honour of the 500 men from Orvieto who had been killed in the First World War.

An inscription on the wall on the left, near the entrance to a public park, commemorates Giovanni Ciuco, a farmer who was senselessly murdered by a group of Fascists in 1921.

Continue, following the long wall of the monastery of San Paolo on the left. 

Turn right just beyond it along Via Stefano Polcari, past the small church of Santa Maria del Campione on the left. 


                     Palazzo Alberi                               Palazzo Petrucci                        Teatro Comunale

Turn left at the end along Corso Cavour. 

  1. Palazzo Petrucci  is on the right (at number 149-51),

  2. Palazzo Alberi is next to it (at number 129-47) and

  3. Teatro Comunale is opposite (at number 122).


                                       Palazzo Aureli-Missini                          Palazzo Febei

Piazza Fracassini opens up from Corso Cavour on the right:

  1. Palazzo Aureli-Missini is in Piazza Fracassini (at number 117-25); and 

  2. Palazzo Febei is opposite (at number 98-104).

Continue along Corso Cavour and take the next turning on the right, along Via San Leonardo.  The ancient church of San Leonardo stood between them until it was demolished in 1802.  A number of architectural terracotta objects (ca. 400 BC) that were found in 1912 in a well here may well have come from the temple under the nearby Palazzo del Popolo

Follow Via San Leonardo as it swings left, and continue into Piazza del Popolo, where the walk ends.