In the Italian province of Umbria, on top of a hill, you can find the city Orvieto. It is a beautiful city to go to as a day trip from Rome if you are brave enough to hire a car. And yes, you need to be brave to do that, because the traffic around Rome is chaotic and if your navigation system gives you the shortest route instead of the fastest, you will need to be really good at the inclining test. The hills were extremely steep and even though my friend was really good at the inclining test, we smelt a weird smell coming from the engine at one point.
Once you’re in Orvieto though, it will all
be worth it. Especially when you visit the duomo di Orvieto. This beautiful cathedral took no less than 300 years to build. The occasion for the construction of this cathedral was a miracle that happened in the 13th century in this area. A traveling priest had his doubts about the Host transforming into the body of Christ, so his Host started bleeding a lot and the blood stained the altar cloth. This altar cloth is still present in the Orvieto cathedral.
The cathedral is dedicated to the assumption of Mary, which you can see on the mosaïcs on the facade of the cathedral. On the mosaïc above the entrance, Mary is carried to heaven by a group of angels and on the highest mosaïc, she is crowned by Christ.
There are also some beautiful reliefs to see on the facade of the cathedral. These represent a couple of scenes, amongst others the creation of the earth and the last judgement. I loved seeing how the artist expressed the emotions of the people in hell, who were terrified and how he depicted the demons torturing these people.
The inside of the cathedral is also worth a visit of course. The interior is dark green and white and looks a little dark. There is a beautiful baptismal font and some nice sculptures, but it’s the frescoes in the transept you should really take the time to see. In the left part of the transept, the chapel of the corporal, they keep the relic of the stained cloth. There are beautiful frescoes from the 14th century depicting both the history of the Eucharist and the history of bleeding Hosts. The right part of the chapel also has beautiful frescoes from the 15th century depicting the Apocalypse. The frescoes were painted by well-known masters like Fra Angelico, Benozzo Gozzolini and Luca Signorelli.
After visiting this church, my neck hurt from looking up so much, but I couldn’t help it, the frescoes were so beautiful. So if you have the chance to go to Orvieto (and the car driving skills), then you should definitely go there. The best time of the day to visit is the late afternoon. It will be a little less hot, since you need to walk up the hill to get to the cathedral, and this is also the moment that the sun will reflect in the gold mosaïcs on the facade of the cathedral, which is beautiful to see. And by the way, Orvieto is also well-known for its great white wine and its truffle pasta, so having dinner here is also a good idea!