Umbria, the cathedral of Orvieto 

The Cathedral of Orvieto is the highest expression of the late Italian Middle Ages, symbol of the city of Orvieto and among the most beautiful cathedrals in Italy and around the world. 

The beginning of the work for its construction dates back to 1290 and was built by the will of the Church and the City, in order to create a single cathedral of the city that could take the place of the two churches in the square: the church of Santa Maria and that of San Costanzo. 

Its construction was followed in the first place by the director Fra’ Bevignate but, in the five centuries necessary to finish the works, many figures followed. 

In 1309 it was the architect Lorenzo Maitani who took the reins of the yard and directed the works for the construction of the Gothic facade. 

On his death he was replaced by Andrea Pisano after which came Andrea di Cione, responsible for the realization of the rose window.


The facade of the cathedral of Orvieto 

Initially the façade had to have a Romanesque style, like the rest of the cathedral but, with the intervention of Maitani, this assumed a Gothic style. 

It was Maitani, together with his son, who took care of the creation of the Virgin and Child, placed in the lunette of the central portal, and of the four statues depicting the Angel, the Lion, the Bull and the Eagle to represent, in order: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. 

Today the Virgin has been replaced with a copy: the original is kept at the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Orvieto. 

Also on the facade you can see, on the base of the pillars, some bas-reliefs representing Stories of the New and Old Testaments, from the origins to the apocalypse. 

Precious elements of the facade are the mosaics that depict some episodes of the life of the Virgin: the Annunciation to Anna, the Birth of the Virgin, the Marriage with Joseph are some of these. At the center, however, there are other episodes that concern his ascent and triumph in heaven. 

The only episode that differs from the theme of the Virgin, to which the cathedral of Orvieto is entitled, is the Baptism of Christ.


The rose window of the cathedral of Orvieto 

If you owe Maitani the Gothic style of the facade, for the wonderful rose window we will always have to thank Andrea di Cione. 

Placed in the center of the mosaics and made between 1354 and 1380, it depicts the face of Christ surrounded by columns and interwoven arches. 

The external corners are decorated with mosaics by Piero di Puccio depicting Saint Augustine, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Jerome and Saint Ambrose. 

On the sides are the aedicules made by Petruccio di Benedetto da Orvieto that welcome thirteen prophets.


The interior of the cathedral of Orvieto 

Decorated with beautiful frescoes, the interior plan is divided into three naves, in turn divided by ten columns and two pillars. 

Among the most significant frescoes we can admire the Stories of the Virgin by Ugolino di Prete Ilario. 

Among the painters who participated, with their works, to enrich the cathedral of Orvieto we remember Gentile da Fabriano, Lippo Memmi and Luca Signorelli. 

It was Signorelli and Ugolino who painted the frescoes of the two chapels of the cathedral, that of San Brizio and that of the Holy Corporal, let us discover them together.


The chapels of the cathedral of Orvieto: San Brizio and Corporale 

The cathedral of Orvieto includes two chapels, San Brizio and Santissimo Caporale. 

The chapel of San Brizio was decorated with frescoes by Signorelli in the years from 1499 to 1504 to depict the theme of the Last Judgment.  

Engaging images alternate apocalyptic scenes with moments of redemption and it was precisely these frescoes that inspired Michelangelo in the realization of the Sistine Chapel. 

Ugolino di Prete Ilario, on the other hand, between 1357 and 1364, painted the frescoes in the Corporal Chapel that depict biblical and sacred scenes, such as the Crucifixion and the Eucharist. 

Also in this chapel you can admire frescoes by other artists, such as the Madonna dei Raccomandati by Lippo Memmi.


What to see in Orvieto 

In addition to the cathedral of Orvieto, symbol of the city and a must, Orvieto preserves other valuable evidence of the history and religious tradition of our country. 

Among the oldest religious buildings you can visit here are the Church of San Giovenale, built in 1004, the Church of San Giovanni, built in 916 above the theater of Constantine and the Church of Sant’Andrea, dating from the sixth century but finished in the fourteenth century. 

As for public buildings not to be missed in Orvieto we find the Palazzo Comunale, built around 1216, the Palazzo del Popolo dating from the thirteenth century and the Palazzo dei Sette, dated 1292. 

Traditional cuisine of Orvieto 

Orvieto is full of artistic beauties, history and tradition but not only: it is also the place where you can taste the regional cuisine of Umbria and its delicious dishes. 

Among the most popular and representative traditional dishes we find the soup of chickpeas and chestnuts, humble dish of rural tradition, today typical of the Christmas period. 

As a first course, we suggest you try umbrichelli, fresh pasta made with water, flour, egg and wine, perfect with sauces of various types, from mushrooms to wild boar. 

And to round off your lunch in Orvieto there is Orvietan, the traditional digestive liqueur made of more than twenty-five herbs.

Copertina: expedia

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