Plan for the day
Our plan was to drive from Val d’Orcia to Orvieto. The distance was 90 km and the journey would require 1 hr 30 min. We expected to reach Orvieto by mid afternoon which would leave us plentiful of time to explore the small town.
By end of the day
Orvieto was a lovely town, we had a great time visiting the duomo, the town center and Saint Patrick’s Well. Saint Patrick’s Well was a very unique and a historic engineering marvel.
The duomo was just sited behind our “stay”. After we settled our luggage into our “stay” we took a five minutes walk around the block of our stay to Piazza Duomo where the cathedral stood. We were quite surprise to see such a huge and grand cathedral.
The facade of the duomo was filled with “golden paintings” and they shone brightly reflecting the sunlight. The top gable of the cathedral was a mosaic painting of the Coronation of the Virgin.
In the evening after the sun set we went out to explore the town center again. There seemed to be an up coming festival as we saw locals putting up many banners. The town lights and the banners made the town looked even more medieval. At night the town was not as busy as it was in the day when the place was crowded with locals and visitors. It was a good thing that we were staying overnight at Orvieto town which gave us the opportunites to see the place in both daylight and “moonlight”.
Saint Patrick Well
After our visit to the Cathedral in the afternoon we went on to visit Saint Patrick’s Well. It was suppose to be a 1 km walk to the well so we figured it was not too far to go on foot. Unfortunately the weather was very hot so the 1 km seemed longer than it was.
Finally we were near the location of St Patrick’s Well. Just before the “Well” was a funicular station and that was where we had to purchase the entry ticket to the Well. The ticket costed €5 per person.
Immediately beside the Funicular station was a cafe. We were only too glad to sit down for a cold ice cream. After we rested and felt nice and cool again we walked down a brick tiled lane just beside/behind the cafe that led to a circular brick structure. The circular structure was the top of St. Patrick’s Well, it housed the circular staircase leading down to the bottom of the Well.
St. Patrick’s Well (Pozzo di San Patriio) was a historic well built between 1527 and 1537 by architect-engineer Antonio da Sangallor the Younger of Florence. The Well had two spiral ramps in a double helix. We walked through a door showed our tickets to the attendant and went down a wide ramp of shallow steps. One side (vertical wall) of the ramp was also the inner wall of the Well and it was lined with tall windows/openings at short interval. Looking through the opening we could see right to the bottom and top of the well.
The ramp reached the bottom of the well and connected to a bridge just above the well water. On the other side the bridge was the second helix ramp that led us up and out of the well through a second door. This double helix design allowed mules to carry empty an full water vessels separately in downward and upward directions without obstruction. A brilliantly well thought design!
This cylindrical well is 53.15 metres (174.4 ft) deep with a base diameter of 13 metres (43 ft). There are 248 steps and 70 windows. It was so well preserved that it still looked exactly like how it looked like in historical time.
Around the wall of Orvieto
After St. Patrick’s Well we took another road that looped round the edges of town before cutting through the houses to return to the town center. The route took us to some scenic areas where we had a good view of the valley below Orvieto town.
Our Accommodation for the Night
Our studio was house on the lower level of a block of light yellow colored building. It had a resident parking lots across the street which was based on “first come first served”. We were lucky to find an empty slot for our car else we would have to park our car at a paid carpark (€1 for the first hour and €1.60 additional hour from 8 am to 8 pm).
Our studio apartment was quite big size and felt pretty clean. Its cooking facilty was actually housed in a cabinet. It had a sink, hob, stove, cooking utensils and cutlery (very cool).
Breakfast was almost non existence. I tried my best to hide my “dismay” when my host showed me the “self catering” breakfast. It was bread loaves disguised as crossiants, jam and biscuits. He also pointed our the milk, yoghurt, teabags and coffee powder in the cupboard. We were not expecting much for breakfast but in this case the hotel listing was not being “honest”.