Orvieto is a lovely little walled city a day trip away from Rome and a breath of fresh, hilltop, medieval air after the Eternal City. I had a lovely day wandering around it and named it “the city of cats” for the large number of apparent strays that I ran into. As I ate lunch six cats were in sight slightly down slope from me.
The city dates back to Etruscan times and follows the classic pattern of hill top fortification with excellent water. In times of siege the occupants could fall back on eating the pigeons they encouraged to nest in their underground grottos.
But the real reason people visit Orvietto is right here. Construction began in 1290 and lasted three centuries which explains why the bulk of the structure is Romanesque (note the dark and light striping) but the facade is tipping over into very ornate Gothic. I found it quite breathtaking. Inside photos were not allowed but I was tempted (and lightning didn’t strike) to snap a few with my phone. A truly monumental space!