Pozzo della Cava
Some of the most fascinating sights in Orvieto are hidden deep beneath its medieval town center, and Pozzo della Cava is among the most accessible. Originally dug by the Etruscans, the well was expanded during the Renaissance to ensure the city’s access to water in case of siege. Subsequently, it was filled and forgotten until 1984. In clearing the well of debris, workers over the following decades unearthed a series of Etruscan tombs, caves, and cisterns, some of which were used during the Middle Ages as kilns to produce the city’s famed majolica.
A stop at Pozzo della Cava and its small archaeological museum is a must to understand the layers of history represented in Orvieto. Visit as part of a walking tour of the city’s duomo and historic center, or purchase a ticket in advance to go on your own.
Things to Know Before You Go
Kids especially tend to enjoy exploring the chambers and passageways under the city.
Visiting requires navigating flights of stairs and uneven ground, and isn’t recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia.
The well and underground complex aren’t accessible to wheelchairs.
How to Get There
Pozzo della Cava is located in Orvieto’s historic center. Take the funicular that runs from the train station to Piazza Cahen, then get on the C bus to Via della Cava.
When to Get There
The underground complex is refreshingly cool during the hottest midday hours in summer—go for a respite from the heat and crowds in the city’s Piazza del Duomo. During the Christmas holidays, the well houses a life-size nativity scene.
Pozzo di San Patrizio
Across town, Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well) was dug a few years after Pozzo della Cava, and features a set of double-helix staircases that descend 200 feet (more than 50 meters) to the well’s bottom. Like Pozzo della Cava, this well was designed by Sangallo under Pope Clement VII, and was meant to provide access to water if Orvieto’s population ever found itself under siege.
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