Please sign in to post.

Farewell Siena, Hello Orvieto!

I left beautiful Siena on a Wednesday.
After another good breakfast, I finished packing my stuff and realized that I had a collection of biscotti and some fruit that I'd not finished eating. I had to pack a small shopping bag just for my food!

I took a taxi to the train station. There was a lot of traffic that morning and the taxi driver explained that it was market day.
When I arrived to the station, I boarded the train, which was already on the platform. While waiting for the train to depart, I witnessed three Trenitalia staff members assisting a young woman (traveling solo) board the train. Initially they couldn't figure out how to fold her walker but then one of them finally did. It touched my heart to see such patience and care as one of the men helped the young woman onto the train and onto her seat.

The train arrived to Orvieto at around 2pm. I followed the crowd across the street and then took the funicular up to the old city center. I then boarded, bus "A", which took me to Piazza del Duomo. My hotel, Hotel Virgilio, is on this piazza next to the cathedral, near the TI office and the bus stop, a perfect location. Thanks Zoe for recommending this hotel!
After checking in (one needs to pay the total amount upon arrival), I was shown to my room (#16) on the first floor. My room was small with a single bed. The best thing about my room was the view from my window. When I pulled the curtains aside, there it was, the most amazing view of the side of the cathedral! I could look out at all different times of the day, and see all the tourists staring at the magnificent façade of the beautiful Duomo!

After settling into my new room, I went to the ‘Meta’ supermarket to buy some food since most restaurants were closed until 7pm. I always seemed to arrive too late to eat lunch at a restaurant, however I didn’t mind, because I knew I would find delicious food at the market deli!
On my way back to the hotel, I met a young man (from Nigeria), who was begging for money. I asked him if he wanted some food and he said; “yes, thank you’, so we walked back to the market and I paid for his food. He thanked me and I felt blessed. It was a special moment when I looked back and he’d met with a couple of his friends and he was showing them the food he would share with them; nothing special; some pasta, pasta sauce, bananas, onions, bread, yogurt, and a box of detergent (“to wash our clothes” he had said)

After eating my picnic lunch, I headed out to explore the city. I went to the TI office, across the piazza, and then decided to take the one-hour underground tour. The tour was very interesting. I learned about how the Etruscans dug caves under their homes where they kept animals, made olive oil and wine. The houses on the periphery of the city, by the city wall, also kept pigeons in these caves, which had a small window just big enough to let the pigeons fly in and out of. I regretted forgetting my phone (to take photos) in my room because there were great views of the valley from these “windows”.

Continued below...

Posted by
5143 posts

After the underground tour, I got some gelato at the recommended gelateria, 'Il Gelato di Pasqualetti '; I ordered chocolate, coconut & pistachio; a delicious combination!
I then walked toward the church of San Giovenale (the oldest church in Orvieto) but then opted to go back to the hotel because it was already getting dark and I thought the church would be closed anyway. While walking back, I stopped to take a photo as the sun was setting over the ceramic tile roof homes. I realized I wasn’t the only one admiring the beautiful sunset; there I met a couple traveling with a photography tour from Texas. We talked as we walked together back to the cathedral then I bid them farewell and returned to my hotel. Later that night (and every night I was there) I opened my window and admired the beautiful cathedral in the moonlight.

The next morning (Thursday), I woke up around 8am, took a shower then walked down to breakfast where I met a mother & son who had been traveling in Southern Italy. They were departing that morning, and I listened to their travels as they persuaded me to travel to the Amalfi Coast and to the region of Puglia on a future trip.
After breakfast I walked toward Piazza del Popolo, where the Thursday market was taking place. There were many merchants selling fresh produce, meat, cheese, beautiful colorful flowers, shoes, clothes and household goods. There was a man selling grapes and yellow plums among other produce. When I asked him if the plums were sweet, a woman who was buying said to me, “take one and taste it”. So I did, and I ended up buying some grapes and sweet yellow plums.
After enjoying the outdoor market, I visited the cathedral, which is absolutely beautiful!
I then had lunch at a small restaurant near my hotel (Trattoria Vinosus). I ordered the Amatriciana pasta, which was delicious! I also had a mixed salad simply dressed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, and served with fresh bread, of course!

After lunch, my main meal of the day (on most days), I returned to my hotel and rested for a couple of hours.
Afterwards, I visited the church of San Giovenale and I loved its simplicity and its frescoes. I then walked along the alley that runs along the city wall and enjoyed watching the sunset. I walked all the way to where there's an elevator that takes one down to a large parking lot down below. I didn't take the elevator but considered doing such the following day, but I didn’t.

There’s a restaurant, near the street by the elevator, where I overheard some people talking about how good it was. The name of the restaurant is ‘Le Grotte del Funaro’. I will tell you more about this restaurant later.
After watching the sunset, I walked to the market to buy more water before returning to my hotel room.

Most nights I was tired from walking everywhere and didn't experience any trouble falling asleep, except for that night when my neighbors next door were watching TV and the volume was very high. I decided to call the front desk and asked if they could ask them to turn down the volume of the TV. Mattia, who was working the front desk, didn't understand me and thought I was asking for tea! He responded by saying; “you want tea now?” Mind you this was almost midnight!

After a couple of minutes, Mattia came up to find out which neighbor had the loud television and he asked them to turn it down, which thankfully they did, and I was finally able to fall asleep.


Posted by
5143 posts

After breakfast, the following morning (Friday) I remembered that most banks are closed on the weekend. I went to the bank and I tried to withdraw €500 but I could not. I then asked a bank employee and she explained that I was only allowed to withdraw €250, “for security reasons”. So I found another bank nearby and withdrew another €250.
I then walked back to Piazza del Duomo and visited the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. This is a small museum but worth a visit for its beautiful frescoes and paintings.

After visiting the museums, I walked to the restaurant I'd seen the day before, 'Ristorante Le Grotte del Funaro' (Via Ripa Serancia, 41). This restaurant is very unique since it’s down a flight of stairs in a real cave! I ordered a pizza with eggplant and onions. The pizza was about 10" in diameter and it was crispy, savory and delicious! I ate half of it and then took the rest with me (in a pizza box)
When I was almost done with my lunch, a couple sat on the table next to mine, they said hello and asked if I spoke English. We had a nice conversation about our travels. They told me that they were visiting from Rome, as a day trip, and this restaurant had been recommended to them.

After lunch, I walked to the church of Saint Agostino (now a museum) to see the outstanding collection of marble sculptures that were once housed in the cathedral. The man at the ticket counter saw my pizza box and was curious about it. I explained that it was half a pizza that I was not able to finish. It was nice to have the place to myself and I took my time admiring these fantastic masterpieces.
I then walked to the church of San Dominico, where I found a young couple and a priest standing at the front of the church talking quietly. The couple was facing each other, in front of the priest, and for a second I thought they were getting married. Something didn’t seem right though, it was very peculiar that there was no one else in the church and that they were so casually dressed, even the priest. I quickly realized that they were actually rehearsing for their wedding ceremony.
After a few minutes I walked back to my hotel and was briefly tempted by a gelateria I passed by, however, when I walked in, the place was unattended, so I left.
That evening I ate the rest of my pizza along with some cherry tomatoes, some grapes and a couple of yellow plums.

The next morning, a Saturday, I woke up early so I could take the excursion bus to Bolsena.
I had almost given up the idea of visiting Bolsena, because when I’d researched how to get there, I only found a bus departing Orvieto in the afternoon (no morning bus) then the returning bus was about an hour later. However, when I’d visited the TI office a couple of days before, the nice woman working there had told me about this excursion bus (only available on Saturdays and Sundays), so I signed up for it online.

Since I was the only one that had signed up for this excursion, I was worried that perhaps the bus wouldn’t show up, but I was wrong. The small bus arrived on time, at 9:05, just behind the train station. The journey took about 40 minutes and the scenery on the way to Bolsena was beautiful, green hills all around. After a few minutes, I could see Orvieto in the distance on a hill of its own with the façade of the Duomo distinctly standing out.

When we arrived to Bolsena, the bus driver offered to drive me back up to the castello (castle) up on the hill, which we had passed on the way. I was very grateful to him because he saved me walking up the hill!
There's a museum and a small aquarium within the walls of the small castle. The best part about the castle was walking on its ramparts and getting a bird’s eye view of Lake Bolsena.

Continued below...

Posted by
5143 posts

I then walked around the charming medieval quarter at the foot of the castle. I spent a couple of hours visiting the museums (there’s another museum within the tourist office in the medieval quarter) plus a small archeological site near by.
Afterwards I walked down to the city center to visit the church of Santa Cristina. On my way to the church, I stopped at Gelateria Santa Cristina (recommended by Zoe) for some delicious gelato (chocolate, strawberry & pistachio)
I arrived at Santa Cristina’s Church at around 12:15, and read on the door that the church would be closing at 12:30, and it wouldn’t reopen till 4PM (the time I was going to be picked up by the bus). I made a decision, against my better judgment, and decided to go into the church with my gelato in hand. While inside the church, I heard the front doors being locked, so I hurried toward the front door. The priest saw that I was holding my gelato and he demanded why I had entered the church with my gelato. What could I say; “Mi dispiace...” to which he responded, "va bene!"

I then walked toward the lake on a beautiful tree lined street. The lake is so peaceful and its water is crystal clear. There's a trattoria right on the lakeside (Trattoria del Moro), which had been recommended by the woman at the tourist office, so I decided to go there for lunch. I ordered the cod with honey but I was surprised to find out that the fish pieces were fried with a heavy batter and it was very greasy. One of my least favorite dishes I ate on my trip. The beautiful scenery of the lake made up for the bad meal though. After lunch, I walked back to the city center but most shops were closed.
The small bus came back and picked me up promptly at 4pm.

When I arrived to Orvieto, I went to visit the Well of St. Patrick’s with its double helix staircase. I only went part of the way down the staircase, but decided to go back up, because I wanted to save my knees for the rest of my trip. When I arrived at Piazza del Duomo, I saw an antique black convertible decorated with white flowers parked in front of the cathedral. I figured someone was getting married so I went inside the church. To my surprise, the young couple getting married was the same couple I'd seen the day before at the church of San Dominico!
I stayed until the end of the ceremony then enjoyed watching the young newlyweds getting showered with rice as they exited the cathedral. After lots of hugs and kisses, they got into the car and the engine would not start. After a couple of tries, the couple raced away.

I had such a nice day but I was tired...
I returned to my hotel room, packed my luggage and I ate grapes, plums and some cookies for dinner.
I looked out my window, once again, to see the beautiful cathedral in the moonlight.

The following morning after breakfast, I said goodbye and thanked Mattia, the young man who helped serve breakfast, and to Ilaria, the young woman who works at the front desk.

I took the bus and the funicular to the train station and waited for the train to Assisi...

I will write about Assisi on a separate post.


Posted by
293 posts

LOVING your post. Several parts of your writing are really touching me: when you speak about opening your curtain to look at a fabulous view. I can attest to the dramatic impact on our brains when we can see something of a certain beauty that we just don't have at home. I have seen the Eiffel Tower from my hotel room, the Heidelberg Castle, the Loire river from the Chateau D'Amboise, and a few others, and these memories carry me through my safe, uninteresting neighborhood view out my living room window here in dusty Central California.

Also, don't you love meeting people and picking their brains about what to visit next? How often, during my student years in Germany, we would meet someone in a Hostel, and they would tell us where they were going - and oftentimes, we went with them! Because their descriptions were vivid, or because we liked the people, or -- just because.

Can't wait for your next installment, and I'm noting "Hotel Virgilio, Orvieto" because of your description of it.

Posted by
3987 posts

Thanks for all the details-Orvieto is now on my Italy Bucket list.

Posted by
15105 posts

Very nice report with LOTS of useful information, Priscilla. Well done!

Posted by
11 posts

Love this - really helped me with planning my next adventure. Perfect timing for me.

Posted by
3406 posts

Thanks for a wonderful, informative trip report. Last time we were in Rome we had planned to go to Orvieto but it didn't work out. So much the better because now we can plan on staying a few days on our next Italy trip.

Posted by
2450 posts

Great reporting, Priscilla! You stayed in “my little room” at the Hotel Virgilio, hope it’s still in good shape. Nice that Ilaria is still there, I remember her as a lovely young lady. You do seem to stretch your food budget, not sure I could handle all those meals of grapes and plums, but I guess all the gelato gets you through the days. I’ll look forward to Assisi, you’ve visited some of my favorite places on this trip.

Posted by
11613 posts

Beautiful report, Priscilla! I did not realize that Larry and I shared a room at Hotel Virgilio!

Beautiful storytelling, your generous heart shines through!

Posted by
5143 posts

Gosh you guys... What can I say... I'm deeply touched by all the positive replies I've received on this, and on my previous trip reports, THANK YOU!

My Confession:

Since English is my second language, I've always struggled with it,
and writing has been one of my weaknesses. It's reassuring to know
that I'm not being graded on all my grammatical errors!

When I joined this forum, three years ago, I received such helpful information from many of you, that I decided to stay and contribute, even in a small way, as a way to, "pay it forward".

I've learned so much from reading your posts and I appreciate the "friendships" I've made here on this forum.

Thank you one and all!

Posted by
5143 posts

It sounds like you have such great memories from your travels. But wait! Don't you get wonderfully fresh produce where you live?

Cala, I do hope you get to Orvieto in the near future! ;-)

Thanks Kathy!

vmatt21, There's also the 'Torre del Moro', a tower in the center of the town, which you and your children may enjoy going up to the top for great views of the town. I did not go up the tower but it was a nice point of reference as I searched for it whenever I needed to know which way to go to get back to Piazza del Duomo to my hotel.

Barbara, You won't regret spending a couple of days in beautiful Orvieto!


but I guess all the gelato gets you through the days.

How did you guess? I did eat gelato almost every day!

Thanks Christine!


I did not realize that Larry and I shared a room at Hotel Virgilio!

Ha,ha,ha! What a coincidence that the three of us have stayed in the same room (at different times)!

MorganMurphy, I'm glad you enjoyed my trip report, thanks!

Posted by
2450 posts

Gee, Zoe, so you and I shared a room, a very small room at that, at the Hotel Virgilio, and you did not even realize it. I must be losing my touch. —

Posted by
3679 posts

Thanks for the trip report on Orvieto. I made a stop here in May 2015. It was the first stop on a 3-week trip through Italy. I loved it, especially at about 7 am on Sunday morning, when no one was on the streets. We stayed at the very inexpensive Villa Mercede, run by a religious order and standing a block or two from the Duomo. The gentle padre who managed the place spoke no English, and we spoke no Italian, but everything worked out fine; he even helped us break into my travel companion's luggage (combination lock would not unlock). My first "relaxed" interaction with Italy (after airport/train ride/bus ride/check in) was sitting in my room in Villa Mercede (built in 1580) with the window open, watching the wind move through a beautiful line of trees while listening to a group of boys play soccer on some unseen field. I thought, "This is why I came to Italy."

Posted by
705 posts

Ciao Priscilla,
Just a couple of Orvieto questions: Was 4 nights the right amount of time or did you end up wanting more? Would you recommend the day trip to Bolsena?

Posted by
5143 posts


sitting in my room in Villa Mercede (built in 1580) with the window open, watching the wind move through a beautiful line of trees while listening to a group of boys play soccer on some unseen field. I thought, "This is why I came to Italy."

I love your description of how you experienced a “relaxed” moment in Orvieto. Thanks for sharing!

Hi Christine,
Orvieto is much smaller than Siena, so four nights was enough for me. Having said this, I wouldn’t mind returning in the future just to experience its beauty and tranquility once again.
I enjoyed my day trip to Bolsena. I loved the quiet atmosphere and wished I’d taken my swimsuit because the lake looked so inviting. I also wish I would have eaten in one of the small trattorias I saw when walking on the narrow streets left of the main piazza. I love being anywhere near water; a lake, the beach (where I am right now as I write to you) or a river.

Keep in mind that I visited Bolsena in late September, so don’t know how busy it gets in the summer.
Have you started planning your next trip?
I’d love to hear where you’re planning to go.



Posted by
11613 posts

I was in Bolsena for the feast of Santa Cristina during the summer, it was not overly crowded, even with the festa going on.

Posted by
705 posts

Did you take a day trip to Civita di Bagoregio from Orvieto?

Posted by
5143 posts

Hi Christine!

Did you take a day trip to Civita di Bagoregio from Orvieto?

No I didn't, I went to Bolsena instead, but perhaps next time I will visit Civita ;-)

Posted by
362 posts

This is an AMAZING trip report!

I have only spent a few hours in Orvieto, but I desperately want to return as I found it to be a welcoming and amazing town. This thread only reminds me that I want to go back. Thank you!

Posted by
2316 posts

I love how you tell about the people you met -- and am taking it as a reminder to myself to note more carefully those kinds of brief meetings in my own travels, like the time I was buying some juice and pastries at a market and wanted to get change for a large bill, and pantomiming that to the cashier flipped her mood from annoyed at getting a big bill for a small purchase to a little lesson in how to say 'make change' and about how many out-of-town visitors they do (or don't) get at this store, etc...

Posted by
731 posts

Oh Priscilla....I'm really going to have to pour over your wonderful report when I'm at home. Right now I'm waiting to clock in at work and enjoying the internet isn't something I am able to do right now. I just wanted to quickly add that I am loving your interactions with the people you are coming in contact with during your travels!

Posted by
8061 posts

It’s been over 15 years since I wandered in Orivieto and through out Italy.

Thank you for sharing and reminding me I need to return.

Posted by
985 posts

I am so late to the game but had to tell you how much I enjoyed this detailed trip report. Now I want to visit Orvieto!

Posted by
5143 posts

Hi Aquamarinesteph, Avirosemail, Kathy, Claudia and Nance,

Thanks for your comments!

I do hope you go (or return) to beautiful Orvieto!