Stage 38 – Ficulle-Orvieto – The stage is of medium difficulty. We look for passage on less busy roads. The entrance to Orvieto takes place along the SP 44, so you need to be careful and walk on the quay.
The next destination is Orvieto; go south on the SS 71 and then take the SP 51 (ancient Cassia), until you get to the SP 48.
VARIANT: alternatively continue on the SS 71 and on Via Amelia. In front of it opens the “Via dei Vigneti” (Vineyards road), a remarkable example of modern agriculture. You can visit the Vitalonga dei Maravalle winery, with its “medieval gardens” for the protection of ancient varieties, and also stop to taste local wines and flavours; continuing on the Elcione road, caves are visible which bear witness to the rural presence of the ancient Etruscan civilization. After 5 km you arrive on the SP 48.
WORTH VISIT: once you arrive at the SP 48 you will find La Sala with its beautiful castle, the parish center and – not far away – the Antinori cellar, worthy of a visit for the environmentally friendly technologies used for winemaking.
Continuing on the ancient route, now little more than a cart track, you reach Osteria, an ancient stopping point on the Cassia, today a farmhouse. After the motorway, passing under the railway tunnel, you arrive at Allerona Scalo (a hamlet located about 7 km from the town of Allerona, located on a hill). Taking the direction of Orvieto, you pass the Paglia and reach the ruins of Ponte Giulio (from the Roman era and rebuilt by Pope Julius II, destroyed by the floods of the Paglia and then never rebuilt). After the bridge, you return to the SP 44, then you reach Sferracavallo. Orvieto is in front, the figure of the Duomo stands out; soon you reach the center of the city.
38 – Points of Interest
The Castle of Sala – It was built in 1350 by Angelo Monaldeschi della Vipera, whose family had come to Italy in the wake of Charlemagne in the 9th century.
Allerona – Village of Etruscan origin. The presence of Roman civilization is certain and documented: traces of it remain of the ancient Via Cassia, or Via Traiana Nova, of which tracts of pavement and two milestones have been found. In the Middle Ages Allerona was a feudal castle, important bulwark of the commune of Orvieto towards Chiusi, subject to the families of Monaldeschi and Filippeschi: of the castle remain remains of the ancient walls and the two gates called Del Sole and Della Luna.
St. Patrick’s Well – It was 1527 when, on the occasion of the sack of Rome, the then Pontiff Clement VII took refuge in Orvieto and at his behest commissioned to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger the construction of the well that was to serve as a water supply in case of siege of the city of Orvieto. In 1800 it took its current name of St. Patrick’s Well by the friars of the Convent of the Servants, who were familiar with the legend of the Irish saint (according to which Patrick was the guardian of a bottomless cave, the famous “St. Patrick’s Well” precisely, from which – after seeing the pain of hell – you could access purgatory, even reaching a glimpse of heaven). Sangallo, who worked on the fortifications of the city, was inspired by the spiral staircase of the Villa del Belvedere in the Vatican (the same architectural system is also found in the Scala Regia of Palazzo Farnese in Caprarola) and created an ingenious helicoidal system of steps so that the ways to go up and down the path of the well (about 58 meters deep) do not meet each other generating problems of “traffic”. Today it is a real pleasure to descend to its depths by walking down its 248 steps.
Orvieto – It rises on a tuff cliff between 280-325 m above sea level, dominating the valley of the Paglia River, a right tributary of the Tiber, which just below the city receives the Chiani, the Roman Chiana coming from the Val di Chiana, from the left. This enormous tuffaceous mesa, which rises from twenty to fifty metres above ground level, is due to the collapse of ground-surge (burning clouds and avalanches) produced by the activity of the Quaternary-age volcanoes of the Volsinio system, now represented by the caldera that hosts Europe’s largest volcanic lake, that of Bolsena. Reliable information about the first human settlements dates back to the 8th century BC. Named “Volsinii” by the Romans, then Urbs Vetus, it stood near a famous Etruscan sanctuary, Fanum Voltumnae, a destination every year for the inhabitants of Etruria who converged there to celebrate religious rites, games and events. From the 8th to the 6th century B.C., the city had a remarkable economic development, becoming a flourishing commercial center, with a military supremacy guaranteed by its strategic position that gave it the appearance of a natural fortress. In 264 B.C. the Romans destroyed it and deported the inhabitants who escaped the massacre to the shores of the nearby Lake Bolsena, where Volsinii Novi (Bolsena) was built. The early medieval citadel of Ourbibentos was re-founded on Orvieto’s cliff and, in a few centuries, became a new city with the name of Urbs Vetus (old city). It is the City of Corpus Christi: here, on 11 August 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted the universal Christian solemnity of Corpus et Sanguis Domini, celebrated throughout the Catholic world.
– Cathedral of Orvieto, a masterpiece of Italian Gothic architecture. The facade is decorated with a large series of bas-reliefs and sculptures made by the Sienese architect Lorenzo Maitani.
– Church of St. Juvenal (1004) e Church of St. Andrew, built on the ruins of a pagan temple and an early Christian church.
– Church of St. Dominic, with the Mausoleum of Cardinal De Braye by Arnolfo di Cambio.
– Church of St. Louis – Church of St. Francis built in the 13th century.
– Abbey of St. Severus and Martyrdom, monastic complex with early medieval and Romanesque structures.
– Soliano Palace (1297), which houses the Museo Emilio Greco.
– Papal Palace which houses the National Archaeological Museum.
– Municipal Palace
– People’s Palace “Claudio Faina” and the Civic Museum Febei Palace
– Gualterio Palace
– Etruscan tombs
Insight Sarminian, the Lost Place – Abt Alberto, in his Annales Stadenses, also mentions “Sarminian”, a locality between Città della Pieve (Castel) and Orvieto (Orbete), also indicating the distances in Celtic leagues. Already in the 14th century the trace of this place was lost. Following the research (not always in agreement) of historians and enthusiasts of national or local fame, it seems plausible that this place was on the Cassia Antica, near the Torronaccio farm. In fact, there are ruins of a very powerful walled structure in the nearby woods, which also had watchtowers around it. One of the aims of the European Association of the Via Romea is to identify this mysterious place, with the help of the Superintendence, the Umbria Region and the Municipality of Ficulle.