Ring around the Rock

July 5, 2011 / Places
Orvieto, Umbria
Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, Mecca. All mystical and sacred places where one can find peace in their solitude and beauty. Add the Anello della Rupe (Ring of the rock/cliff/outcropping) to the list: a walking-trail that runs around the volcanic rock on which the town of Orvieto is perched. It’s only a few meters below the city center, yet it’s a world away.

The percorso (trail) is about an hour trek (depending on whether you run, walk or crawl) that circumnavigates the town, located midway down its steep cliffs.

There are 5 ingressi (entrances) into the park. Ingresso 1: Madonna del Velo, one of the few examples of ecclesiastic architecture in Orvieto; Ingresso 2: Porta Vivaria, the remains of the medieval north gate; Ingresso 3: Porta Soliana, the medieval eastern entrance to the city; Ingresso 4: Palazzo Crispo Marsciano, designed and built during the Renaissance; and Ingresso 5: Foro Boario, near the medieval aqueduct used as early as the 13th Century.

All along the “ring” the trail is lined with rustic wooden fences. Look up and see the many grottoes cut into the cliffs. Gaze over the walls at the classic postcard view of the Umbrian countryside. Note the countless treasures…the remains of the Etruscan sanctuary of Cannicella dating back to the 4th-6th centuries B.C., the Grotto of the Fossil Trunks, an artificial cavity with Paleo-botanical remains that precede the formation of the cliff about 350,000 years ago, and the archaeological pride of Umbria, the Estrucan Tombs of Volsinii in existence since the 5th-6th centuries B.C. But my favorite is Chiesa del Crocefisso del Tufo (pictured left), a lovely little chapel set into the tufa with its crucifix carved into the rock.

Even in the dead of winter there is a lot of life down here. Sometimes I walk with friends, sometimes I go it alone. La Rupe is like a friend and confidant. She listens without interruption and everything seems simpler when you are with her. It’s a transforming experience – an hour that is entirely yours to reflect, plan or just daydream. You could say it’s like taking a meeting with God – or something God-like. La Rupe can become your friend too, but you will have to take the first step. Buona passeggiata a tutti!

Toni DeBella

by Toni DeBella

A Freelance writer and blogger at Orvieto or Bust, Toni recently packed everything she owns into two suitcases and headed to Orvieto, Italy.  She’s adjusted her tennis game to the clay courts and drinks way too many caffe lattes. 

17 Responses to “Ring around the Rock”

  1. Torre

    Been there, done that, and would so do that again. I agree that this is it’s own little bit of magic for the soul, the eyes, and your overall well being……….enchanting.

  2. louise

    What a wonderful personal introduction to this rich keeper of history. Thanks for sharing. A lovely Note.

  3. Carol

    Though I have visited Umbria and Orvieto several times, I want to return and enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside and take one of many walks. Thank you for this snapshot!

  4. Toni DeBella

    Torre, Tina & Carol….thank you for comments. This place has a particular meaning for me personally and I am happy that you enjoyed reading the note and hopefully, will take the walk (for those, unlike Torre who haven’t yet). BTW Torre: great word “enchanting”. I think that describes La Rupe’s experience perfectly! Toni

  5. We love taking out travelers on this walk. It truly is another world, a countryside experience sitting below an urban city. Bill Steiner

  6. Mere words and pictures cannot begin to describe the beauty of the walk. It’s a dream destination I want to go to over and over again.

  7. Toni DeBella

    It is like being in a dream and you put it perfectly…you want to go over and over. I try to “walk the rupe” every morning that I can. It’s like a mini-getaway where you can clear your mind and just see the beauty surrounding you. Thank you for your comment.toni

  8. Christine Witton

    We are looking forward to doing this walk in October. Will post back when we have.

  9. Christine Witton

    Hi Toni
    We stayed at the Convento San Ludivico and walked the Annello dell Rupa. Enjoyed it very much. Loved the drifts of wild cyclamen.

  10. Toni DeBella

    So glad to hear from you and happy that you enjoyed the walk. San Ludvico is very close to the entrance to the Rupe. Perfect. Thank you so much for writing. I arrived in town late on the 8th, so I guess we just missed one another. Next time? Toni

  11. Oh no, I think I’m becoming an Orvieto stalker! SO excited about going there with my family in a few weeks. I’ve been trying to figure out how we will be able to walk from where we are staying (podere Sette Piagge) into the town – I reckon it will be via Porta Vivaria? thanks for the great item on the Rupe

  12. Severe Rizzo

    I visited Orvieto briefly in 2008 with my husband. We are planning to return with our twin 6 year olds the second week of April, 2017! I was wondering if you could advice us on where to stay and what to do with young kids! It is much more intimidating to plan from far away with kids. We are thinking of going to Rome and Venice as well.
    Thank you!


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