She’s not the first thing you see when you arrive in Orvieto. I think that makes the first time you see her even more breathtaking. Walking up via del Duomo, you catch the first glimpse of her facade, and as you continue up the street the full picture comes into view. When you finally reach the Piazza del Duomo, you see her in all of her glory. Stunning. And that’s just on the outside.
Most eye-catching are the large sculptures of Angel, ox, lion, Eagle, symbols of the Evangelists. In between the doorways are graphic depictions of the Creation, and the Final Judgement. You could spend hours there and not even step inside.
The Duomo, officially named Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta, is a 14th century Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to the assumption of the Virgin Mary. It was built to commemorate the Miracle of Bolsena, in which a young priest had just blessed the Host during Mass and it started to bleed, so much so that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is housed in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the Duomo. If you visit at Easter or during the Feast of Corpus Christi you can see the Corporal. Otherwise, you can see the beautiful gilded housing inside the chapel.
On the opposite side of the church is the Chapel of San Brizio, also know as the Signorelli chapel. Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli completed the frescoes in this chapel, which is said to have influenced Michelangelo’s Last Judgement. The artists even put themselves in the work.
Also of note inside the Duomo is the Pieta, carved by Orvieto native Ippolito Scalza. It took him eight years to carve the four marbled figures.
Every time I visit the Duomo I am struck by her beauty, and I see something new. The way the light makes her sparkle depends on the sky; overcast, bright sunlight, twilight. I go visit daily just to say hi. She’s always the last stop before I leave Orvieto, often accompanied by my final gelato! “A prossimo” See you next time!
Michelle Logue leads cultural and creative adventures in Orvieto, Italy. With a mandate to provide "travel that transforms", Adventures in Italy gives guests an immersive experience. After more than 15 years of return trips, Orvieto has become a welcoming home base surpassing the typical Italian vacation.
Adventures in Italy operates trips in May and September, with two options: Artistic Enrichment nurtures creative expression, while Discover Orvieto invites visitors to focus on the history and culture of Orvieto and live as locals. Find out more about tours and special offers by following Adventures in Italy on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit www.adventuresinitaly.ca
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.