Orvieto is a beautiful village in the Umbria region of Italy. It sits on top of a hill, surrounded by a wall. The village is accessible by exiting the train, crossing the street and purchasing a funicular ticket and riding the tram up the mountain. You can also drive up, but that is not nearly as much fun! My children loved the FUNicular and wanted to ride it as much as possible.
When you exit the funicular, you go straight out of the station, across the parking lot and start walking up the hill on the sidewalk. This area is pedestrian friendly, but there are cars at all hours of the day and night, so beware if you are traveling with quick footed little ones. If you need a breather after riding the train from Rome, then exit the funicular station at the top of the hill and make a left. There is a small playground almost above the station on top of the wall. It’s not a huge or impressive playground, but it works in a pinch if your little ones have some energy to burn.
After you leave the station (or the playground) cross the parking lot and continue up Corso Cavour and enjoy all the pottery shops, small markets and restaurants. It’s a very lovely town. If you are hungry, stop into one of the shops for gelato or make a left on Via Cesare Nebbia to visit the bakery (it’s across from the Post Office) for some biscotti or a cookie. Keep walking up Corso Cavour and it will start to get more interesting after you pass the baker’s street.
When you get to the Via del Duomo, you can make a left to visit the Duomo, a right to visit Palazzo del Popolo (a must if it’s a market day), or straight to see Piazza della Repubblica (has an atm if you need cash).
I’ll tell you a secret about Orvieto, none of the locals go to the park above the Funicular. They all go to a secret playground that is behind Palazzo del Popolo! If you continue past the palazzo, and make your way to the wall towards the left of the palazzo, you might be able to find it! 😉 Best to relax on a bench like the Italians and leave your helicopter parenting in the USA.
If you headed towards the Duomo, you will be delighted by the cute pottery shops, little alley ways of toys and lights. Take some pictures in the cute alley way. The beautiful duomo will reveal itself as you continue down the street. Mosaics decorate the facade and are colorful, bright and cheerful. I tend to appreciate the churches that are cheerful instead of gloomy like some of the cathedrals and duomos we have visited.
On Halloween, I dressed my children up in the Halloween costumes I had painstakingly sewn in the USA and transported during our vacation thinking that they would be the only children in costume. I had read and asked questions about Italian Halloween and had determined that they simply didn’t dress up children for Halloween in Italy. Boy, was I wrong! I was SOOO glad that I was not the Mom of the other American children vacationing in Orvieto on Halloween. (The ones without costumes) All of the sweet Italian children were dressed and running excitedly from shop to shop getting candy! Where else in the world can a child treat-or-treat for designer perfume??? ha! Most of the Italians were dressed in spooky costumes, like ghosts, witches and goblins, but my children were Elsa from Frozen and a good ‘ol cowboy. Many many many Italian girls looked at my daughter with wide eyes and exclaimed “Bella!!!”. It was really thrilling for my daughter and I was very proud of the dress I had made her! The excitement was in the air! The streets were crowded and I learned from some friendly locals that this was the second year they were doing trick-or-treating and it had grown into quite an event. We LOVED it!!
In 2014 Orvieto hosted a Chocolate Festival on the first weekend in November. I can’t seem to find any information about this festival being an annual event, but it might be something that is new and not quite popular yet. It was amazing! Lots of creations made entirely of chocolate like screws and wrenches and hammers and high heeled shoes and handbags and every kind of truffle imaginable! There were entertainers, jugglers, bubble men and even a small tent with coloring for the children. I felt so lucky to be able to visit Orvieto during such a SWEEEEET time of year!
We spent a week here in Orvieto soaking up the ambiance and inhaling the smells of chocolate and pizza. It was a delicious week and I hope to do it again one day!