From Pienza in Tuscany back to Rome, we spent a night in between at the “Castle in the Sky” town – Civita di Bagnoregio. On the way, we visited Orvieto, a beautiful hilltop town, 1 hour 20 minutes drive to get there. Similar to Siena, there is a parking garage – Campo della Fiera – on the foot of the town and conveniently has an elevator to get up so you don’t need to climb the hill 🙂 The parking fee was €5.70 for 3.5 hours. Check other parking options at: https://www.orvietoviva.com/en/orvieto-parking/
The elevator got up to near Piazza della Repubblica and then we walked around the main street to explore the town. The first church we saw was Sant’Andrea with a spiral staircase tower next to it.
We wandered through the side streets as well and saw this cute purple cow bench 😀
Back to the main street led us to the famous Duomo di Orvieto.
I didn’t expect a huge cathedral in a smaller town like Orvieto. The facade and the exterior design reminded me of Siena’s Duomo; strip pattern on the side and the front facade in pink and white.
With a closer look, I was totally amazed by the twisted details filled with glittering mosaics in those columns!
The stripe black and white pattern just like Siena’s Duomo.
Right at the entrance, a 3-D sculpture on its wall:
The interior continued with the black and white stripes design.
Although not as grand and big as Duomo di Siena, it is much more peaceful and less touristy which I enjoyed visiting. Note that there’s an admission fee of €4 but no line to get in.
The Chapel of the Madonna di San Brizio inside is incredibly beautiful filled with golden and colorful frescoes.
After the duomo, we checked out the shops but no interesting souvenirs to bring home.
One interesting side street with many toy and wooden craft shops.
A picture with Pinocchio 😉
The tourist area is quite small in Orvieto only the main street to the duomo and a few side streets with shops. We were done exploring the hilltop town but decided to have lunch here since we found a seafood restaurant – II Miglio. The seafood was actually quite good given its location on a hilltop town! We ordered the seafood soup which was flavorful given the amount of seafood they used.
The seafood spaghetti was yummy but I wish the portion to be larger and more ingredients like the seafood soup. Interestingly though was the noodle they used….much thicker almost like udon.
We sat outside as it was good weather but the sun started to hit our table and became hot! We quickly finished our lunch to race against the sun LOL. The seafood lunch was €46.
The restaurant is located right next to the theater: Associazione Teatro Mancinelli Tema. The pictures displayed on the outside flyer looked nice so we decided to pay a visit – admission was €2 and we have the whole theater to ourselves to photograph! It was a surprise find 😀
Afterward, we walked to the town’s clock tower – Torre del Moro Orvieto and a mild climb up for its view. Admission was €2.80 so not too bad. You can see the Duomo from here which stands out as being the largest structure in town.
The surrounding fields underneath the hill of the town.
After some nice views, we got down and while I took a rest on a bench, Jason took the camera and ran to the Duomo once again for photos. Compared to the photos we took earlier, by the early afternoon, the colors were more saturated due to not against the sunlight. Surprisingly, a lot fewer tourists there as well, probably they are at lunch.
We continued to our final destination, Civita di Bagnoregio, 35 minutes away and on the way, we got a nice panoramic view of Orvieto at Punto Panoramico Di Orvieto. From here, you can see the town sitting on top of the hill, it looked much larger than when we were in there!
There’s a bar at the viewpoint but I am surprised that it was nearly empty; it’s a nice place to get a drink with incredible views!
Once we reached Civita di Bagnoregio, we found a parking lot near the guest house we booked via Booking.com – Magnacivita for $97 for the night. We parked our car, paid the parking and walked into the coffee shop to check-in. The guest house is located on the second floor of a house behind the courtyard of the coffee shop. The guy who checked us in gave us a parking permit for our stay, awww too bad we paid the parking already!
He walked us to our guesthouse and it was clean, spacious, and modern looking!
The bathroom looked contemporary and newly renovated.
The little kitchen and dining table provided everything we need for a comfortable short stay! It was so hot out and luckily they have ice at the coffee shop so I went and got a bowl for the drinks.
After we settled down, we drove to the parking lot next to Caffè Belvedere, that’s as close as we can park to the entrance of this “floating in the sky” town. There’s a parking lot down at the bridge entrance but it’s only accessible for residents only. From the Caffè Belvedere, it offers a good view of the town sitting on the top of the plateau. When the mist rolled in the early morning, the town looked like floating in the sky thus the nickname “castle in the sky”.
It was a long walk to get down to the entrance of the bridge and right next to it is the admission office – €3.50 admission fee and there’s a person at the entrance of the bridge to scan the ticket. I asked if I can use the same ticket to come back later in the day for sunset, he said yes….note later in the evening the ticket office is closed and no one checking the ticket so you can get in for free.
The long bridge to get to the town and incredibly picturesque…but touristy, mostly Chinese tourists! I have never seen so many Chinese tour groups on this trip than in Civita di Bagnoregio! It took some patience for an opportunity in between where there were fewer tourists to take the photos but we have the rest of the day there so we waited and waited!
The blue sky and white clouds were perfect, I hardly have luck with them so glad they showed up!
The other towns on the surround cliffs.
As we walk closer to the town, the higher angle isn’t as great for photos.
The town on the plateau is very small, only a street and you can walk around within minutes.
According to Wikipedia, the population is only 11 people! There are restaurants but I guess catered to tourists.
Sadly, many houses looked abandoned.
We finished walking around the town and took pictures within half an hour! From the top of the town, you can barely see the bridge connecting it to the outside world.
The tour groups at that time left and it was so much easier to take photos without much wait. However, the white clouds were gone as well so the photos aren’t as dramatic.
It was a longer walk back as you have some stairs to climb up back to the cafe to get our car yikes!
We drove back to the parking lot next to our guest house and then walk 10 minutes from there to dinner at Bisteccheria Ponziani. We should’ve driven there as there were many parking spaces near the restaurant!
Bisteccheria Ponziani is a steak house and the waiter/butcher there is very knowledgeable about the types of meat.
I asked for a well-done steak due to pregnancy and he congratulated us. My steak was juicy even though it was well done 🙂
Jason asked the waiter what he recommended and I forgot the name of this steak but it was huge and yummy. Of course different than the famous Florentine t-bone but still grilled to perfection.
The dinner cost €43.50 and after we finished it, we quickly walk back to get our tripod and car for sunset. Another long walk down to the bridge…
Too bad no colorful sunset and we waited for the blue hour…
I was disappointed that the town was dark…understand that only 11 people live there so no reason to turn on all the lights but I would think some floodlights would be nice to lit up the plateau but nooooo!
It was a dreadful walk back to the car…..we walked 4 times to and back today and my legs were sore! At least our bed was comfortable that I got a good rest but set an alarm for sunrise…..haha poor Jason!
The 3rd trip back but this time we stayed at the viewing platform at Caffè Belvedere instead of walking down to the bridge since this gives a higher perspective. Unfortunately, no mist rolled in so couldn’t get the floating in the sky effect 🙁 Though, it’s still nice with the surrounding colors turning and lighting up the plateau. We were the only ones there until when the sun about to come out, a local guy brought his girlfriend to see the sunrise, gave her a kiss, and then left.
Beautiful! My recommendation is to skip the sunset and blue hour, get some good rest, and come for sunrise 🙂
We went back to our guesthouse to get a quick nap before breakfast – it was included in our room rate and we can pick anything from the coffee shop. They didn’t have any hot items though so we just picked a huge cupcake with hot milk. After breakfast, we checked out and drove to Rome where we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Indigo Rome – St. George. We redeemed our free annual night certificate through our IHG credit card worth more than €400 a night! We also got upgraded to a higher category room which included free minibar :O
All the drinks and food in the minibar for free, how nice!
The hotel is located inside the limited access zone but since it was Sunday, the restriction is “off” so we can drive in without getting fined. We dropped off our bags, checked-in, and then returned our rental car at the airport. It was cheaper to return the day before and then take a taxi to the airport than having to park our car inside Rome and an extra day of the rental cost. From the airport, we took the train to Roma Termini railway station for lunch then headed to Vatican City so Jason can get his stamps.
The post office at the Vatican is a mobile truck and it opens on Sunday as well. Their stamps are expensive!
We did some shopping nearby, had dinner at a delicious Szechuan restaurant – Tang Chinese Restaurant (寬窄巷子). Like Florence, a lot more authentic Szechuan restaurants in Rome now than 9 years ago when we first visited!
The “saliva chicken”, steamed chicken dipped in spicy oil.
First time trying the sour and spicy fish instead of “water boil” fish that we regularly order and it was very delicious!
The “water boil” beef was good as well.
To cool off the spiciness, we ordered a stir-fried veggy with garlic.
The yummy Szechuan dinner was €51.40.
This 2.5 weeks road trip from Rome to Castelluccio to San Marino to Lake Orta/Maggiore to Annecy down to the French Riviera – Monaco and then back down to Tuscany, Italy to Rome, we checked off 2 countries and countless cute towns and villages. Our favorites are San Marino which has a lot to see, shop for stamps, and good food and Menton with the tastiest fresh seafood! Tuscany has been on my list to photograph, while it’s picturesque, ……..but to be honest, I was disappointed that many of those postcard-perfect locations are on private roads so it was tricky to get the shots. Annecy looked nice on pictures but compared to Colmar, it’s more commericalized and actually smaller than I thought. As for the lake region, Isola Bella’s Palazzo Borromeo is a gem. However, overall, I much preferred Lake Garda with many beautiful villages surrounding the lake so more to explore and see. Lastly, it was nice to be able to go back and visit the gorgeous lavender fields of Provence to get my “maternity” photos so it was an extra treat 🙂 I can’t wait to bring our baby to explore more of Europe next year….it’ll be a hard wait with no travel for 9+ months!