I love to get the inside track on favourite hotels directly from the locals. It doesn’t get more local than chatting to the editor of The Local, an English-language news site on all things Italy. My longtime friend, the inimitable Angela Giuffrida, shares exclusively with Holidays in Heels a review of Hotel Virgilio in Orvieto, Umbria 🙂
Orvieto is a charming hilltop town perched on a cliff of red volcanic rock in Umbria, Italy. The town is full of good two and three-star hotels, usually family-run businesses which have been nurtured over the years with tender care – Hotel Virgilio is one of them. The three-star boutique hotel is the only one in the medieval town located on Piazza del Duomo, offering stunning views of the 14th century Duomo di Orvieto, one of the most spectacular and important cathedrals in Italy.
The hotel’s terrace is the perfect place from which to marvel at the sunset views of the cathedral over an aperitivo (aperitif): one of Italy’s most treasured pre-dinner rituals.
The decor is warm and fresh, while the rooms are airy and relaxing – the perfect place to get some rest after an evening of ambling through the town’s narrow cobbled streets and sampling traditional local dishes.
Orvieto is an easy place to navigate and if you’re a history buff you’ll be blown away by some of the sights, including a subterranean network of medieval caves, tunnels and Etruscan wells. The town also draws artists, who can be seen with their easels capturing the magnificent architecture at a square, or countryside scenes over Umbria from a rooftop terrace.
There’s an abundance of cosy restaurants and bars, as well as a good range of shops, selling everything from the works of artisans – whether that be food, jewellery or pottery – to designer clothes.
Orvieto is a good place to visit all-year-round but I stayed at Hotel Virgilio in early November – perfectly timed for the chocolate festival which was being held in the square opposite. Run by friendly staff, it’s a great hotel for either solo travellers, couples or small families – and the occasional celebrity. In 2014, it hosted actor Kevin Costner, who was in town for a couple of nights for a gig with his band!
What to pack
Orvieto is a hilltop town and the streets are cobbled, so make sure to bring comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking. You’ll need to dress relatively conservatively when visiting the churches. Italians are well-known for their effortless style, never seeming to look shabby even if in a pair of jeans and trainers. It’s much the same code in Orvieto – so pack clothes that fit well, but are comfortable. Italians also like to make an effort in the evening, even if they’ve only popped out for a walk, but not in an over-the-top sense. So pack some stylish outfits to fit whichever season you visit – here’s some inspiration!