Sky High Orvieto


Medieval Hilltown of Orvieto
Medieval Hilltown of Orvieto

Orvieto is a pleasure garden for those with an eye for architectural beauty. From the Gothic facade of the Cathedral to the intoxicating views from the ancient walls surrounding the hilltop town, a linger here is good for the soul.

Orvietto Cathedral - 14th century Roman Catholic Basilica

Orvieto Cathedral – 14th century Roman Catholic Basilica

Sunlight illuminates the three-gabled golden facade of the Orvieto Cathedral, adding dimension to the large bas-reliefs and statues with the symbols (Lion, Angel, Ox, Eagle) of the four Evangelists stationed across the front. Built around 1325 by Tuscan architect Lorenzo Maitani, it is considered one to the great masterpieces of the middle ages.

Florentine architect Arnolfo di Cambio designed this cathedral, which was begun in 1290.  It took nearly three centuries to finish the construction. Orvieto’s pride and joy is beautifully well-preserved.

Coronation of the Virgin mosaic at the top peak
Coronation of the Virgin mosaic at the top peak

Inside the Cathedral

There is an old medieval wall that surrounds Orvieto. Located on a flat butte which is made up of volcanic tuffa stone, the town has been in existence since the Etruscans. In fact, Orvieto has a maze of underground rooms and tunnels that the ancient Etruscans carved out of the tufa rock. Tours are available through Select Italy and well worth the time.

Cobbled streets winding up and down between tall brick buildings and occasional palatial villas add an appeal all its own. Bargains were to be found at a busy clothing and produce market held on the piazza.


Nooks and Crannies in Orvieto
Nooks and Crannies hung with laundry

Brick walls were refreshingly cool to touch in the heat of the afternoon. Potted plants like this Camila are commonly spotted around the town. It was very quiet away from the piazza.

Little Palms and Flag Bearing Buildings
 Palms, Wrought Iron Gates, Old brick Walls, and Flag Bearing Buildings

Medieval city walls of Orvieto

The views surrounding Orvieto are some of the most picturesque I have ever seen. I followed the old medieval wall all around the town and taken photos from every side.

Orvieto Countryside
Orvieto Countryside-A bit of a hazy day

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This pathway led outside the walls and down through some of the countryside. Lush variegated greenery rose up around me as I walked through the welcomed shade. A soft breeze swayed the trees gently bringing with it a warm earthy fragrance.

Pathway Outside the Walls
Pathway Outside the Walls
Back in the town of Orvieto, I found this doorway and fell in love with it.
Back inside the town of Orvieto, I found this doorway and fell in love with it. I just needed a little cat curled up by that flower pot and a yellow lab waiting  inside the door for his daily walk!

Orvieto can’t be beat for a lovely walk through medieval architecture, artisan shops and family-run restaurants. To see the sites of Orvieto in a day, Select Italy offers a full day tour of the Cathedral, the underground Orvieto, a historical stroll through the town and a visit to a local winery.

Five Jewels of the Amalfi Coast

Welcome to the Amalfi Coast, considered one of the worlds most exotic and breathtaking coastlines. The sight of whitewashed villas tumbling down the vertical hillside to the ocean’s edge is enough to delight any tourist. Yet there are gems to be explored and worthy of a visit that you won’t want to miss.

Sun Worshipping on the Amafi Beach
Sun Worshipping on the Amafi Beach

There are many sandy beaches offering ocean frolics, umbrella’s, and tasty refreshments. No matter which way you look, you are surrounded by Italy’s coastal treasures.

St. Andrews Cathedral, Amalfi
St. Andrews Cathedral, Amalfi

Rising majestically off the Piazza del Duomo, St. Andrews Cathedral was built in the 1200’s on the site of an older cathedral, which was built on the remains of a previous temple. A flight of steep stairs takes you up to the Arab- inspired facade. An older basilica with the famed Cloister of Paradise resides next to it. St. Andrews’ remains, which were brought over from Constantinople during the 4th crusade, are kept inside the crypt of the Cathedral. A 13th century wooden crucifix, medieval frescoes by Andrea del’Asta and Egyptian granite columns add to provide an engaging atmosphere.

Grotta dello Smeraldo in neighboring Ravello
Grotta dello Smeraldo in neighboring Ravello

Flooded with translucent blue and emerald light, the Grotta della Smeraldo can be reached by boat. Discovered by a local fisherman in 1932, this grotto had remained virtually untouched for many years. The cavern roof is 24 meters above water level, hosting dramatic rock formations.

Terrace of Infinity at Villa Cimbrone, Ravello
Terrace of Infinity at Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

Originating in the 11th century, the Terrace of Infinity, also known as the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone has predominately remained in custody of families of nobility. As the historian Ferdinand Gregorovius stated after a visit to the Villa,….“incomparable…..where the most beautiful flowers you can imagine flourished, coming from numerous plants of the South….redesigned and enriched with countless….ornamental features, small temples, pavilions, bronze and stone statues.” Truly not to be missed.

My Brochure of Amalfi with the Mystery Tower

There are actually 30 towers like this one down the coast, originating from as early as the 12th century. Saracens were known to pirate the waters often, so when they were sighted, fires were built on top as a signal to the inhabitants of pirate activity. At this warning, they would all leave the beach and literally ‘head for the hills.’

Amalfi is an excursion into the senses, filling your mind with exotic images and dramatic landscapes. My thoughts are never far from it, and still the scent of lemons on the ocean air brings me close to heaven.

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