Orvieto origins go back to the Etruscan civilization: the first Etruscan settlements, going back to the 9th Century B.C., infact, were found inside the tufaceous caves in the bedrock upon which today rises the city.
Annexed in the 3rd Century B.C. to the territories of Rome, it remained under the Roman domination until the decline of the Western Roman Empire. Afterwhich it became a free municipality, and during the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, was a valiant opponent of Barbarossa, remaining faithful to the Pope. Riding on the support of the Papal State, it was allowed to prosper through the entire Medieval Period, reaching the top of its development in the 13th Century with the constitution of the General Council of the 400 and the election of the Captain of the People.
It was during this period that one saw the fervent work of erecting palaces and holy buildings among which the very famous Cathedral stands out, dating back to 1263, undoubtedly the most important architectural landmark of the city, with its splendid Gothic facing and the richness of the ornaments and internal chapels. In the ancient town we also find the St.Patrizio well, built in 1527 based on a plan of Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane, the Palace of the Seven from 1300, the Palace of People Captain (12th Century) inside which took place the meetings of the People’s Council, Saint Andrew’s Church (12th Century), Saint Domenic’s Church (12th Century), Saint Giovenale’s Church (11th Century), Soliano Palace (1262) within which, one will find two museums: the Museum of the Opera del Duomo and the Museum of Modern Art. Moreover we remember the Mancinelli Theatre (1866), the suggestive Underground City and the Necropolis of the Crucifix of Tufo dating back to the Etruscan period.
There are several theories on the origin of the name: the word Todi or from the etrurian “tudicolare”, or even from “tutus” (“a fortified place”).
Beside the legends about the origins of Todi, the town was founded by the Umbrian people on 2700 before Christ. Later on, before the etrurians and after the romans held the power of the town, and building up a number of monuments, most of which can still be admired, like the Nicchioni Romani, on Mercato Vecchio square, which at the beginning were probably part of a basilica. On 88 b.C. Marco Crasso took for himself all the wealth of the town, and during the fall of the roman empire the town was robbed and destroyed. During this time bishop Fortunato bacame the protecting Saint of the town. During the Middle Ages, Todi was always in fight against the close Orvieto. On the XII century it bacame free commun, being this the onset of a very positve period, and marvelous monuments like Capitain Palace, il Priori Palace, the Dome and the very remarkable St. Fortunato Church were built. On 1236 Jacopone da Todi was born here, one of the firts poets to write in italian dialect and not in latin. On 1500, after a long dark period, the town rised again under the Renaissance influence; dated during this time has to be found the marvelous Consolazione Temple. Many of the public buildings rised during this time are due to the bishop Angelo Cesi.
The Lake of Corbara is an artificial basin orginated in the fifties because of a dam on the river Tiber. You can have one of the best view on the basin from Civitella del Lago, ancient hillside hamlet that owes its fortune to the Attis (in this place you can still see their palace).
To be seen also the church of “La Madonna del Prato” (1660), contain-ing a “Via Crucis” painted by eight contemporary painters, among which Giovanni Tenneroni. Between the lake and the mountains is located the “Parco di Bottilandia”, a wood where animals find their shelter inside huts made out of old wooden barrels. The Lake of Corbara has become since a few years a meeting-place for paddle-lovers. At Salviano, on the 448 Baschi-Todi road, you find the Corlago Rowing and Sculling Centre, provided with a pier, a boathouse and facilities for sport and social activities. Amateurish and agonist activities are held here as well as interregional contests.
Among the things you can see at Salvano, the Dragon Boat, an oriental speciality, a boat with twenty or more rowers, with the rowing rhythm stressed by the beat of the drum. On the same road 448, beside the lake, there’s one of the temples of Italian cuisine, “Vissani”. Gianfranco Vissani, top cook of the Italian cuisine, is in charge of the cooking. Exclusive dishes, creativity and international renown make this restaurant something beyond the mere catering. You woudn’t even find the word “ristorante” on the signs. A cult place for delicate palates. Not to be missed, at least once in your life.
Orvieto, Todi and Corbara Lake
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