surprising underground network in Orvieto

surprising underground network in Orvieto

[ Aug.2019 ] Something which was even more impressive than the gorgeous cathedral in Orvieto in Umbria, Italy was the underground network.

There was a tour starting near the Cathedral to visit this underground world, so we joined it.

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old equipment to make olive oil

Like other old towns in Umbria, Orvieto is on a hill and because of the soft volcanic rock, they have been digging the basement to use for various things since ancient times.

And apparently there are as many as 1200 basement rooms in Orvieto.

The Etruscan people of 3000 years ago already had this underground network.

The first basement room we went down had some equipment to make olive oil.

The medieval people used here for making oil as well as keeping them.

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the ancient well

But they think that it could have been a shrine for Etruscan people.

When we moved on into another room, there was a ruin of an ancient well.

Because Orvieto is on the hill which has no rivers, it is very important to get water.

So, they dug a well as deep as 82 metres.

Interestingly, on the wall of the well, there were a line of holes and they think that those were the footholds for the people who dug the well.

the view we saw when we got out of the underground world

When we looked up, the well were stretching upwards, too.

The reason is that because in the medieval time, the stones here were used as the building material, they dug here as a quarry, so the ancient well was disconnected.

In the underground in Orvieto, literally we can see the layers of traces of its long history.

We went out of this basement to enter another one.

Here, we saw many holes on the walls.

Apparently they are the holes for pigeons people kept here.

In medieval time, pigeons were important food for people.

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pigeon holes

Especially when the town was attacked, people came down here and lived eating them.

There were some windows so that pigeons could come in and out.

Nowadays because people come in and out so often, the pigeons would not come into here, our guide told us.

This place reminded me of another interesting pigeon houses in Greece.

Apparently in Orvieto, there are some restaurants who serve pigeon dishes even now.

They cook with wine.

subway connecting to a hospital

We did not have a chance to try this time but I would love to next time.

The last basement room we went in was used more recently during the second world war as a shelter.

There was a subway linked to a hospital.

Orvieto did not get attacked during the war, but people were ready for that.

It was really an interesting tour.

By the way, even now, most of the houses in Orvieto have basement rooms and people use them as wine cellars.

Some of the basement have apparently as many as three layers.