Orvieto is one of the most beautiful hill towns you’ll find anywhere in Italy. This Renaissance gem is full of history and intrigue, and its ancient walls have been a refuge for popes and home to artisans and aristocrats for centuries. Like the Etruscan catacombs snaking through the rock beneath its streets, every cobble and cornerstone has a foundation that runs deep into the memory of its citizens and the imagination of its visitors.

And at the very center of Orvieto’s traditional Italian cultural and civil lifestyle is the Piazza del Duomo—the ancient town square and natural gathering place that’s dominated by Orvieto Cathedral. Life still swirls around this open space as it always has, and it’s where you’ll find tourists and locals alike chatting, shopping, exploring, relaxing on its stone benches to beat the heat, or just taking a moment to enjoy the morning peace and a beautiful sunrise. 

It would be impossible to visit Orvieto without eventually finding your way to the town square for drinks, meals, tours, and more than a little gelato. Here are some of the many joys you’ll discover in and around the Piazza del Duomo on your next visit!

1. Major Attractions and Overlooks

The cathedral piazza is where you’ll find tickets and tours for the city’s biggest highlights. Fortunately, it’s almost impossible to miss—take the A bus or keep going up from the funicular and you’ll eventually get there! And if you need to know if your tour’s about to start, Maurizio’s Clock Tower is at the north entrance tolling the hours. 

The Duomo di Orvieto

Orvieto Cathedral is the most important building in Umbria, and it’s widely considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. With its facade of gilded mosaics and bronze sculptures, there’s a reason it’s one of the most popular attractions outside of Rome and Florence. 

You’ll need a ticket, and you can buy them across the piazza at the information center for €5. You can also get free maps and visitor guides here so you won’t get lost in Orvieto’s twisting streets!

Orvieto Underground

The information center is also where you can purchase tickets to see the Orvieto Underground—the ancient Etruscan caves and cisterns dug into the volcanic hill the present-day city sits atop. This labyrinth of over 1200 individual passages is a must-see attraction for any visitor to the Old City, and a great way to beat the heat in the middle of the day.

Museums and Archaeology 

There are two nationally acclaimed museums near the Duomo: the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Orvieto and the Musei Archeologici Civico e Faina.

The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Orvieto houses one of the finest collections of Etruscan artifacts anywhere in the world and features thousands of international historical treasures. It’s a must-see attraction when you’re visiting Umbria, and it’s a favorite space to catch one of  Orvieto Musica’s summer concerts

You can also enjoy an evening of the festival’s chamber music at the Museo Emilio Greco, which celebrates the life and work of the internationally acclaimed 20th-century sculptor. He’s responsible for the stunning bronze doors that grace the exterior of Orvieto Cathedral today, and a treasure of Italian art.

Belvedere Bilodeau

If you’re just looking to relax, then head a few meters south to the end of the Via del Duomo and you’ll arrive at the Belvedere Bilodeau. This scenic overlook is the perfect place to rest for a moment and take in the gorgeous scenery. And don’t forget to say “Hello” to the cats! They may not let you pet them, but they’re never far away.

2. Orvieto Musica

If you’re visiting between June 17 and July 5, you’ll have the opportunity to experience Orvieto Musica, one of Italy’s premiere classical music festivals. Led by Executive Director and renowned international soloist Kim Walker, 2024 will feature an exciting roster of world-class faculty and emerging classical artists—including the inaugural Sydney Eisteddfod String Quartet Residency at Orvieto Musica. This partnership features prize winners from Australia’s biggest arts competition, and they’re making the trip around the world to be part of Orvieto Musica’s 2024 lineup of talented and inspiring young performers. 

The festival includes coaching, workshops, and masterclasses with guest artists, and culminates with a series of vocal, brass, piano, and string chamber music concerts in Orvieto’s most beautiful and historic performance venues. Just a short train trip from both Rome and Florence, this opportunity to experience extraordinary virtuosity in one of the most beautiful hill towns in the country. 

And one of the biggest concerts of the festival takes place in the Duomo itself! Visit Orvieto Musica’s website for updates, interviews with faculty and alumni, and how to book your tickets and support the festival for this exciting season. 

3. Festivals and Tours

Because it’s the largest and most prominent space in the Old City, many special events begin and end here. Here are some of the highlights you can find throughout the year. 

Umbria Tango Festival

This ballroom showcase performs throughout the region, and Orvieto is their official home! You’ll often find them sharpening their steps beneath the granite walls of Orvieto Cathedral. Keep an eye out for their next performance the next time you’re in town.

E-Bike Wine and Food Tour

The Piazza del Duomo is the final stop for one of Orvieto’s most popular tours, and you’ll appreciate the electric boost on your bike as you wind your way through the surrounding countryside. It’s a great way to see the sights in an afternoon without killing your feet, and it ends at Cantina Foresi—a restaurant that hosts an ancient wine cellar in the city center.

Ferrari and Vespa

These two brands are synonymous with Italy, and the Piazza del Duomo is a natural stop for events and excursions. The Ferrari Cavalcade wows spectators with its style, power, and history when Umbria is on the agenda, and Vespa enthusiasts routinely showcase their scooters in Orvieto Cathedral’s shade. When’s the next time they’ll be in the piazza? You can check their websites, but in Orvieto, sometimes you just get lucky! A walk past the Duomo every morning will ensure you never miss a thing.

Restaurants and Refreshments

The open space around Orvieto Cathedral wouldn’t be complete without incredible food, drinks, and a scoop or two of gelato. Some of the best restaurants in Umbria are just off the piazza, and its cafes are a hotspot for business meetings and casual conversation. Here are some of our favorite spots.

    • Trattoria Vinosus. Found on the north side of Orvieto Cathedral, this local eatery serves local produce and regional dishes with a modern flair.
    • Ristorante Pellegrini. This regional institution delivers some of the finest food and wine in Umbria to its guests—stop here for an unforgettable experience of Central Italian fare.
    • Cantina Foresi. This wine bar is the perfect stop to grab a glass of Orvieto Classico and some snacks on their patio between tours. 
  • Gelateria Pasqualetti. This gelato staple is open late, and it’s where you’ll find locals, tourists, and Orvieto Musica faculty and participants just about any hour of the day. 
  • Bar Montanucci is a favorite for post-concert unwinding for Orvieto Musica musicians. It’s a few streets away from the Piazza del Duomo, and a quick walk for cocktails, coffee, snacks… and chocolate! It’s an Orvieto institution you must visit, and it’s near La Taverna dell’Etrusca, another daily festival stop serving delicious pizza and pasta.   

Ristoria dei Monaldeschi is also a short hop from the piazza, and it’s where you’ll find some of the best hand-made pasta and locally inspired cuisine in the entire city. Definitely worth a detour for lunch or dinner, and you’ll probably run into an Orvieto Musica musician along the way!

Plan Your Next Visit to Orvieto Cathedral

Orvieto is just a quick train trip from both Rome and Florence, and it’s a perfect halfway point for a quick stop, a day trip excursion, or a home base for exploring the region. Regardless of how you choose to visit, the Piazza del Duomo and Orvieto Cathedral will be highlights of your trip, and where you’ll experience some of the most memorable architecture, colorful festivals and events, incredible music and artistry, delicious regional cuisine, and authentic traditional Italian culture. 

Make an unforgettable evening at one of Orvieto Musica’s thrilling concerts, a glass of crisp Orvieto Classico, and an indulgent serving of umbrichelli pasta with wild boar ragu and black truffles under the stars part of your next Italian adventure in the heart of Umbria!