Necropolises were built at the foot of the cliff, the two largest being at Cannicella to the south and Crocifisso del Tufo to the north. A sanctuary was also identified within the necropolis at Cannicella.
There are many necropolises in the area, especially from the 6th century BC, which served minor towns and villages. Starting in the 4th century BC, the local aristocracy preferred the country to the city, and had themselves buried in underground tombs (hypogeum), decorated with frescoes for the most important personages (Golini I and II and Hescanas tombs). Life in the town seems to have been interrupted in the first half of the 3rd century BC, concurrent with information on the destruction of Volsinii by the Romans, who displaced part of the population to the Lake Bolsena area, where the new Roman Volsinii was founded. The other inhabitants of Etruscan Volsinii were probably dispersed in the surrounding area, especially toward Perugia and the Umbrian valley.
Visits to underground Orvieto: www.orvietounderground.it
The Etruscan Belvedere Temple
The temple was always one of the most important buildings in an Etruscan city, and as such it received every sort of attention from both the public authorities and private citizens. The remains of a typical Etruscan-Italic temple can be seen in a dominant position along Viale Carducci.
The structure rose on a high podium reached by stairs at the front; after an open area marked of by columns, one reaches the enclosed back part, composed of three cellae, with the middle cella reserved for the statue of the deity. The main structural elements were made from wood and decorated with polychrome terracotta; on the roof there may have been terracotta acroterium statues, often of great artistic value.
Etruscan Wall on Via della Cava (free admission)
This was part of the blockade structure that barricaded the only passable access to the rock of Volsinii. The wall consists of eight courses of large blocks of tuff, laid overlapping though not always evenly. The bottom course was definitely the foundation, set against the natural wall of tuff, following its profile. Perpendicular to the wall, but at a higher level, there is another section of Etruscan wall, built using the “telaio” technique well-known in the Orvieto area. This section was probably part of some utilitarian structure marginal to the defensive works. Although objective elements for dating the walls are lacking, it seems very probable that the defense structure was built at the end of the 6th or beginning of the 5th century BC, during the period of greatest cultural and economic prosperity in the city of Orvieto/Velzna, most evident in the necropolises of Crocifisso del Tufo and Cannicella.
The Roman Port of Pagliano (free admission)
The area where the Tiber and Paglia rivers meet was used in ancient times for the building of a port. This port played an important role in the economy of Orvieto, as it brought it into contact with the neighboring Chiusi territory and with the city of Rome.
The Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage in Umbria is currently carrying out a series of systematic excavations, starting from the southern zone of the port. Operations were begun in summer 2000, and various parts of the port complex have been discovered. The research has been coupled with the necessary work for the restoration and protection of the structures now unearthed and of those which continue to emerge as the excavations progress.
The Orvieto area is that which has the highest concentration of caves used by man for religious purposes. Evidence from the Early and Middle Bronze Age can be found at Parrano, Titignano and Castel Giorgio. This phenomenon is undoubtedly connected with the important nearby site at Belverde, in the province of Siena, which has very strong similarities.
All of the caves in the Orvieto area open up onto sheer cliffs over rivers and streams, with the entrances at considerable heights above rapids or falls.
The Devil’s Dens at Parrano
At the foot of the medieval village, a large, precipitous block of limestone rises on the western slope of Mt. Peglia. Over time the impetus of the Fosso del Bagno river has carved out arches and caves now gaping from the steep walls of rock.
The most famous of these, eight in number, are called the “Tane del Diavolo” (Devil’s Dens) and are located at large natural arches. Despite its inhospitable surroundings, this site was frequently used in prehistoric times. The first paleoethnological investigation of the Dens was done about seventy years ago by Umberto Calzoni of Perugia. Subsequent campaigns were carried out in the years 1980 and 2000 by the Superintendence of Archeological Heritage of Umbria.
The Parrano TerritorialDocumentation Center provides detailed information on the Devil’s Dens, and also a well-organized excursion service. Given the particular nature of the site, the excursions are always led by expert guides.
For information and visits: Tel. 0763/838001 - Fax 0763/838520 – Doc. Center tel. 0763/838047
St. Francis Cave near Titignano
This cave opens on the right bank of the Tiber River, two kilometers from the Castle of Titignano. The cave consists of a number of small chambers and narrow tunnels on various levels, connected by short passageways. It was probably used by humans during the Early and Middle Bronze Age. Another cave, called the "Pozzi della Piana" (Wells of the Plain) was discovered in the 1970s. It extends underground for 2500 meters and consists of a maze of tunnels on two interconnected levels. Materials from the Neolithic and in part from the Bronze Age were found deep in the cave.
Cave on the Romealla stream near Castel Giorgio
Found in 1992, this is the most recently discovered cave. Here also the cave opens onto the steep sides of a ravine. Traces of Bronze Age artifacts have been found inside.