Discover the Underground Orvieto Etruscan Caves of Italy

Central Italy is known for its slow pace, breathtaking views, and remarkable architecture. Tuscany and Umbria are two regions located in the middle of Italy, and are home to world-renowned attractions like Michelangelo's David statue, the Duomo basilica, and the olive groves and vineyards of Chianti. While these destinations and attractions are well worth the visit, long lines and crowded spaces can be overwhelming. For those looking to immerse themselves in Italian culture, it’s time to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations in Italy.

In this guide, we’ll highlight the hidden gems in Tuscany, Italy, secrets in Umbria, what to do in Orvieto, and more. As you prepare for your next adventure, use this list to find unfrequented landmarks in the hidden villages of Tuscany and Umbria to get a true Italian experience.

Secret Umbria and Tuscany

Umbria and Tuscany are two regions in central Italy known for their rich history dating back thousands of years. If you want to explore these regions without the crowds, consider these sites, landmarks, destinations, and attractions:

  • Marmore Falls: This secret of Umbria is well worth the hike. Marmore Falls is Italy’s second-tallest waterfall and it’s man-made. Created by the ancient Romans, Marmore Falls can be turned on and off. A visit to Marmore Falls is perfect for outdoor adventurers, as you can find hiking trails, caving, rafting, and canyoning tours.
  • Montone: Another hidden gem is the Umbrian village of Montone. Dubbed as “Museum Valley” for its breathtaking scenery and landscape, Montone is a perfectly preserved medieval town where visitors can marvel at centuries-old architecture, statues, and more.
  • Appennine Colossus at Villa Demidoff: Florence is known for renowned works of art, such as the Uffizi Gallery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, and Ponte Vecchio. However, a mere 30-minutes from the city center is a lush garden and beautiful villa that’s home to the Colosso dell’Appennino, a 16th-century statue created by Giambologna.
  • Lake Trasimeno: If you’re an avid birdwatcher, Lake Trasimeno is a must. As Umbria’s largest lake, bird lovers can find cormorants, wild ducks, and other feathered friends gliding along the lake. This secret spot is also great for swimming, recreation, and relaxing while taking in the views.
  • Saturnia Hot Springs: This hidden gem in Tuscany, Italy, is the perfect place to visit after a long day of exploring. The Saturnia Hot Springs is a little over two hours from both Rome and Florence, and boasts free natural thermal hot springs and waterfalls open year-round. 

These are just some of the secrets of Umbria and Tuscany worth visiting on your trip to Italy. Explore more hidden gems, such as the Orvieto Etruscan Caves, below.

What to Do in Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto, Italy, is an Umbrian village located in the Province of Terni in southwestern Umbria on a butte of a volcanic tuff. The history of Orvieto dates thousands of years, starting in the 9th-century BC when the Etruscan civilization inhabited the area. Originally called Velzna, Orvieto is located in a strategic area, allowing the Etruscans to build a military town strong enough to hold off the Roman empire for years. However, the Romans prevailed, and in 264 BC, gained power.

During the Middle Ages, Orvieto became a prosperous and flourishing city, becoming modernized and expanding. Today, Orvieto is an ancient town full of charm and stories worth exploring. With so much history, here’s a list of what to do in Orvieto, Italy:

  • Visit the Orvieto cathedral, also known as the Duomo, and marvel at Gothic and Romanesque architecture, detailed mosaics, and statues.
  • Check the time at Torre del Moro, a clock tower standing 47 meters high. You can even climb to the top for a stunning view of the city.
  • Relax at Rocca-Fortezza Albornoz, a public park housed in an ancient fortress that offers beautiful Umbrian scenery.
  • Explore Belvedere, an ancient Etruscan temple, and Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick’s Well), which has a set of twin staircases with 248 steps each going down into the well shaft.

If you’re wondering what to do in Orvieto, Italy, we’re not done yet. Below, we’ll uncover one of Orvieto’s hidden gems, the Orvieto Etruscan Caves.

Orvieto Etruscan Caves

Believe it or not, under the town of Orvieto is an elaborate maze of tunnels and caverns. Over 2,500 years ago, the Etruscan civilization dug deep into the earth to supply their town with water. During the process, they began building a series of wells and tunnels that continued well after the Romans and into the Middle Ages. Today, there are over 1,200 tunnels in the Orvieto underground caves, along with galleries, grottoes, quarries, shelters, and cellars. The construction of the Orvieto underground caves tunnels had no formal plans, creating a labyrinth of passages deep beneath the city.

For history lovers, a trip to the Orvieto underground caves is a must. As you wander the caverns and tunnels, you’ll get a glimpse into life several millennia ago, allowing you to witness architectural wonders and subterranean construction projects that stood the test of time.

Hidden Gems in Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany is a region filled with history, culture, and cuisine. If you’re looking to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations in Tuscany, consider some of these items on this list:

  • Le Dieci Castella, which translates to “The Ten Castles,” is located in the city of Pescia, which is surrounded by ten hilltop villages that were once home to medieval castles. Escape the buzz of the cities and enjoy peace and calmness down cobblestone streets, and maybe even sign up for a cooking in Tuscany program.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of famous Renaissance artists by visiting San Miniato, another hilltop town with beautiful scenery overlooking the Arno River Valley.
  • For beach dwellers, you can’t go wrong with a stop at Porto Santo Stefano, a beach town located on the southern coast of Tuscany. Here, you can enjoy crystal blue waters, exciting boat rides, and seafood.

While this list is nonexhaustive, these are just some of the hidden gems in Tuscany, Italy, worth visiting. 

Visit Tuscany and Umbria with Road Scholar

At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of educational travel adventures to Tuscany and Umbria. From walking the hilltowns of Umbria to online Italian adventures, our expert-led learning programs will immerse you in Italian culture.


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