Orvieto is a picturesque hilltop town. it was founded by the etruscans in the 8th century b.c. and conquered by the romans in 264 b.c. during the middle ages, its isolated location gave it some protection from the barbarian invaders, and it flourished economically. eventually it was absorbed into the papal states, and the renaissance popes built a summer palace here.

A postcard showing the old town (the name Orvieto
comes from "urbs vetus," Latin for "old town").

looking out over the valley from the town walls.

a well sunk by the renaissance popes 63 meters down
through the hill, to provide water in case of siege.

the statue of a dead child, from a Roman tombstone now at the archeological museum

orvieto's most famous sight: the medieval cathedral or duomo, beguin in the 14th century a.d., with mosaics on its facade.

the sides of the cathedral are decorated by using alternating bands of differently colored stone.

across from the cathedral is the Etruscan Museum, which
also provides a glimpse across the town to the hills beyond.

An Etruscan era vase from inside the museum (the Etruscans were contemporaries to the ancient Greeks, and their vase paintings were similar).

Typical narrow and winding medieval streets in orvieto.

the medieval town hall, built in the 13th century a.D. (in the later middle ages and renaissance, when many italian cities were virtually independent, town halls often acted as fortresses, too.)

inside one of the churches of orvieto, the fresco of a christian martyr being burned alive. (unlike northern european churches in the middle ages, where stained glass windows were the major art form, churches in italy typically used frescoes and few windows so that the summer heat would not make the interiors of churches too uncomfortable.)

The courtyard entrance to a renaissance mansion.

a t the edge of the old town, a beautiful 19th-century mansion, built in an imitation medieval style.

in the valley outside of Orvieto (which is visible on the hill through the arch) is a luxury hotel, built in the ruins of a medieval monastery.