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ITALY: UMBRIA: ORVIETO: אורבייטו

  Region: Region Capital: Other Province Capitals: Other Important Cities:
10. Umbria Perugia   Assisi, Gubbio, Orvieto, Todi
Spoleto
, Terni

ORVIETO:  ||Map || How to Get There  || Orvieto - General Description || History of Orvieto || Orvieto on the Net||


1. Map

orvieto region


2. HOW TO GET THERE:

Orvieto is situated in Umbria (central Italy), halfway between Florence and Rome. It is very easy to reach by either car or train.

By Car

From the Autostrada del Sole A1 turnpike, exit at Orvieto. Orvieto is 120 Km (75 miles) north of Rome, 160 Km (100 miles) south of Florence.

By Train

Orvieto is on the main Italian Railway link: Milano-Roma. Trains leave Rome every 2 hours during the day.

 

3. ORVIETO - GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

The traveller who approaches Orvieto by train or by car, sees from a distance the city which rises on a plateau of volcanic tuff, surrounded by a stupendous landscape of fields and vineyards. The unbreachable walls appear to encircle the city rather than elevate it, as though it were a fortress rising on the flat valley floor of the river Paglia.

Because of its location, because of its Etruscan roots, because of its charming medieval character, and above all because of its celebrated Cathedral which is a gem of Gothic architecture, Orvieto is one of Italy's most unique and interesting cities.

Orvieto is at an elevation of 1000 feet while the valley lies at 360 feet. There are 10,000 people who live in the city itself and another 15,000 in the valley and in the surrounding hills.

 


4. HISTORY OF ORVIETO:

The fascinating history of Orvieto begins in the 8-9th centuries B.C. when the rock was inhabited for the first time by the Etruscans. The site of this settlement has in fact been identified with the Etruscan center of Velzna ( Volsinii in Latin), a city which began to flourish in the beginning of the 6th century B.C. This economic prosperity was based mainly upon the production of ceramics and on bronze work.

From a political point of view, Velzna was in the forefront of the struggle against Roman expansionism, as a result of which in 254 B.C., having been occupied by the enemy armies, it was razed to the ground. Following upon the destruction of the city came the dispersion of its inhabitants who for the most part were forced to relocate to the highlands overlooking the lake of Bolsena.

The name of the city appears to date back to this period of time. In fact, Velzna became known as Volsinii Veteres (Ancient Volsinii) or Urbs Vetus (the Old City) as distinguished from Volsinii Novi (New Volsinii), which today is known as Bolsena.

At the time of the barbarian invasions, Orvieto was occupied by Alaric the Goth and by Odovacar. Vitige took advantage of its strategic natural position to create a defensive stronghold in the war against the Byzantines. The imperial general Belisarius succeeded in conquering the position after a bitter siege in 538 A.D.; it was reoccupied temporarily by Totila before the final defeat of the Goths.

In 596 A.D. Orvieto was occupied by the longobard Agilulfo and had its own bishop and later, in 606, its own counts. One of the counts of Orvieto, Farolfo, within the framework of the religious rebirth imposed by Emperor Otto III, and in collaboration with Saint Romualdo, promoted the establishment of abbeys and monasteries in the surrounding territories. In the 11th century Orvieto became a Comune or City-State. The towers and palaces of noblemen of the area who had relocated to the city began to be built.

The institution of the Comune is documented beginning in 1137. Twenty years later a treaty was signed with Pope Adriano IV, which increased papal influence in the city and gave way to the struggle between the Guelfs or papal faction and the Ghibellines or imperialist faction. This struggle was destined to extend over a long period of time and marked the successive history of the city.

Orvieto soon became a Guelph stronghold of central Italy, holding out against the repeated attacks of the Ghibellines who had been expelled and the emperors Frederick I and Henry IV. In 1199, the Pope appointed the first Podesta' of Orvieto, Piero Parenzo, who was later killed in the civic battles between the opposing factions of the Monaldeschi (Guelphs) and the Filippeschi (Ghibellines).

In the meantime, the jurisdiction of the Comune was extended from Mount Amiata to Orbetello. The vitality of Orvieto can be seen in the construction activity of the period. It is at this time that the churches of San Lorenzo degli Arari, of San Francesco, of San Domenico, of Santa Maria dei Servi were built, as well as many public buildings such as the Comunal Palace, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, and the Papal Palace. And in 1290, the building of the Cathedral was begun.

In the years 1281-1284, Pope Martino IV established a seat in Orvieto, filling the city with Frenchmen against whom the citizens rebelled. The battles were rekindled, and the Filippeschi or Ghibellines were expelled in 1313. New factions arose, the Beffati and the Malcorini, into which the Monaldeschi split. In 1334, Orvieto found in Ermanno Monaldeschi della Cervara its first Lord, who reigned until his death in 1337. In 1354 Cardinal Albornoz occupied Orvieto subjecting the city to papal rule. However, Orvieto preserved its comunal institutions, later becoming the capital of the fifth province of the papal state.

In 1860 Orvieto was annexed to the Italian Kingdom, which later became the Italian Republic.

 

5. ORVIETO ON THE NET: 

 


Sources: