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August 12, 2020

Orvieto, a Powerful Municipality of the Middle Ages


  • Orvieto

Visitating time

  • 2 days

How to get there

  • Visitabile on foot

Orvieto is a perfect example of a powerful medieval town that stretched from Bolsena lake to Orbetello in the Tuscan Maremma area, and which influenced the birth of all the municipalities that are now part of its territory. Even today its squares, the medieval quarter and palaces tell its glorious history from that period. The famous historical procession on the feast of Corpus Christi brings that period back to life every year with a lively, social, political and military cross section of that era.

The Palazzo del Popolo in Orvieto represents one of the greatest symbols of the political and social life of medieval Orvieto. This elegant building housed the figure (established in 1250) of the Capitano del Popolo. A prominent figure in the political life of the town as the highest representative of the people. A few meters from this majestic building there are two other important buildings; Torre del Moro and the adjacent Palazzo dei Sette. In the Middle Ages the Palazzo dei Sette housed the seven gentlemen who represented the main guilds of the city, and therefore the economic power. Moving instead to what is now Piazza della Repubblica, there is the Palazzo Comunale which today as in the Middle Ages, represents the fulcrum of the city’s political life. Finally, the Piazza del Duomo with the cathedral and the papal palaces which housed the religious power.

Of ancient origins the Albornoz Fortress has represented one of the greatest fortifications built on the perimeter of the cliff. Originally the structure had a different appearance from what is possible to admire today. It was characterized by all the proper architectural elements conceived for defense purposes. The loss of the original military function that took place at the end of the 19th century changed its appearance.

The historical procession of Orvieto from 1951 joins the religious procession in the traditional Christian feast of Corpus Christi. A feast during which the reliquary is exposed with the sacred linen stained by the blood of Christ on the occasion of the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. The historical procession is divided into three parts: one represents political power, with the nobles and the Corteo del Podestà; another represents social life and the city with the four quarters that compose it, and finally another represents military power with the militias and the Capitano del Popolo. Each character of the procession parades with refined and precious costumes that faithfully depict those of the city in medieval times.