Enjoy 360 Degree View of Orvieto and its Surrounds from the Top of Torre del Moro:
Like many medieval hill towns in Italy, Orvieto has its share of medieval towers. For a bird’s eye view of Orvieto, go up to the top of the Torre del Moro on Corso Cavour. This 47-metre high tower from the late 13th century was built to keep watch over the Orvieto territory and today it provides sweeping views as far as the eye can see.
Medieval Commune of Orvieto
At the end of the 13th century, when Orvieto was at the height of its economic power and political stability, many old public buildings were restored and new buildings erected to symbolize its wealth and power. Old buildings, like the Town Hall, were restored and the Palazzo del Popolo and the Duomo were built forming a new urban layout. Included in this urban development were the Palazzo dei Sette and the adjacent tower which was originally known as Torre del Papa. In the 16th century, the name of the tower changed to Torre del Moro. There are a number of theories about a possible Moorish connection, but the most probable and accepted theory is that it was named after Raffaele di Sante, who was known as Il Moro, (after whom the Palazzo Gaultiero as well as the whole district was named).
Climbing up to the Top
To get up to the top of the Torre de Moro, you take a lift to the second floor and then climb a whole lot of steps up. Tony had a heavy camera bag, which made the climb harder in the summer heat, but once you get to the top, the magnificent views make it worthwhile. Now, one thing to be aware of is that the bells toll every half hour and on the hour and they are loud! Tony was about to relax when he reached the top and just as he stepped onto the balcony the large bell tolled, nearly giving him a heart attack.
Torre del Moro is said to be almost perfectly aligned to the four cardinal points and more than its sweeping views, it allowed the city’s administrators to keep watch over its rural parishes, hamlets, its many castles and all the territories that were subject to the city of Orvieto. On the west the view stretched all the way to the sea and on clear days, you can see the countryside to the north as far as the mountain peaks of Cetona and Amiata.
For the visitors like us today, it provides a great orientation of the layout of Orvieto. It was great to see beautiful features of the Duomo’s facade from up the tower and Tony was able to zoom in on those features in his video. Looking to the west, we could see clearly the Piazza della Repubblica where our Hotel Aquila was.
The Many Uses of Torre del Moro
The tower has been used for different purposes during its history. In 1865, it was used as the cistern for the city’s new aqueduct system. After its restoration in 1875, the mechanical clock was installed and the two bells hoisted to the top of the tower. The clock, which you can see on the second floor, and the bells performed the function of time-keeping and announcing events for the commune. The bells are historic – the smaller bell was from the tower of S. Andrea whereas the larger bell was from the Palazzo del Popolo and dates back to 1313. At the end of the 19th century, the ground floor was used as the office of the Posts and Telegraphs.
We said that we would count the number of steps on the way down and Tony counted about 175 and I thought it was more like 185. If you’re up to climbing steps, the Torre del Moro is worth the visit. The fee to go up the tower was only Euro 2.80 (August 2012).