The characteristic medieval center set on a tufa hill overlooking the Paglia river.
The area has been lived in since the 7th century BC and perhaps since the Bronze Age.
Generally the city is identified with the Volsinii in Etruscan times and was at its height during the 6th to 4th centuries BC when it was a flourishing commercial center. The Roman conquest in the 3rd century BC meant dramatic sacking and the relocation of the city to the shores of Lake Bolsena where the town of Volsinii Novi (today’s Bolsena) was founded.
In the high middle ages Orvieto was under the domination of the Goths, Longobards and Byzantines. The most florid period was during the free Comunes when, thanks to an alliance with Florence, the city was able to expand its area of influence to the Mediterranean sea.
The city was visited by many popes in this period, especially those elected in Viterbo, but it remained independent until it was conquered by Cardinal Egidio Albornoz.
Orvieto is best known for its beautiful cathedral (Duomo), with frescoes by Signorelli and the relics of the Miracle of Bolsena which inspired Pope Urban IV (elected in 1261 in Viterbo where the popes lived) to institute the Corpus Domini festival.
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