You may wonder: what do Saint Patrick and Orvieto have in common? Very little and in fact this amazing masterpiece of hydraulic engineering was originally named Pozzo della Rocca (Well of the Fortress), as it is close to the Albornoz fortress. It was later named after Saint Patrick because it was probably used as some sort of Purgatory of Saint Patrick, in the second half of the eighteenth century. In a way it is similar to the underground cave where the famous Irish Saint used to retire and pray and where the unbelieving who ventured to the bottom of the cave would gain remission of sins and access to heaven.
Its construction was commissioned to Antonio da Sangallo the Young, in 1527, as a request of Pope Clement VII, approximately at the same time when the Pozzo della Cava underwent a restoration on the opposite side of the cliff, in order to ensure water supply, should the city be under siege. Completed in 1537 under Pope Paul III (born Farnese), given its size and the accurate project layout, the well shows its ambition to be remembered as a daring and majestic enterprise.
It is a work of skilled engineering, that was preceded by hydrogeological research in order to identify the most suitable site to reach the clay layer of the springs and tile part of the walls with bricks to improve their sealing properties. The cylindrical hole is enormous as it is 54 metres deep, and has a diameter of 13 metres; the architectural solution of a double helicoidal staircase is very interesting: It allowed the pack animals that carried water to travel undisturbed on two one-way staircases one up and one down 248 steps; the 72 large windows that filter light and let it play with the various tones of the stone wall are particularly evocative.
53 metres deep, and with a diameter of 13 metres,
the double helicoidal staircases
are indipendent and non communicative.
From the outside, the well appears as a wide and low cylindrical building decorated with Farnesian lilies, showing two openings diametrically opposite to each other, one for people to go down, the other for them to go back up, with the background of the hills surrounding Orvieto’s cliff.
Venture down its greenish depths, take lots of pictures to catch all the perspective effects and light effects, do not miss the chance to listen to the echo of your own voice as it bounces off the walls. Go on and once you reach the bottom of the well, throw a coin into the water, to make sure you will be back, and happy, in Orvieto some day.
Gennaio – Febbraio – Novembre – Dicembre 10.00 – 17.00
Marzo – Aprile – Settembre – Ottobre 9.00 – 19.00
Maggio – Giugno – Luglio – Agosto 9.00 – 20.00
Chiuso il 25/12 – Aperto il 1/1 dalle ore 13 alle 17
La biglietteria chiude 15 minuti prima.
Intero – 5.00
Ridotto – 3,50
(Ragazzi fino a 18 anni, studenti universitari fino a 25 anni con un titolo che comprovi la frequenza, persone oltre 65 anni, gruppi di minimo 15 persone, residenti, possessori del biglietto Pozzo della Cava, Soci Touring Club, Soci FAI, disabili)
Gratuito: bambini fino a 6 anni
Prevendita: Scuole 0,50 centesimi cadauno; gruppi generici 1,00 euro cadauno
Italiano: Costo fisso di 50,00 euro
Durata 45 minuti, max 25 pax
In Lingua: Costo fisso di 80,00 euro
Durata 45 minuti, max 25 pax
audioguide singole 1 euro cadauna
Servizi e Contatti
Costo fisso di 50 euro possibile solo il mattino, durata variabile
Piazza Cahen – Viale Sangallo
Tel e Fax. 0763.343768
Inserito nella Carta Unica
Straordinario progetto di Antonio da Sangallo il Giovane realizzato a partire dal 1527. Profondo circa 53 metri e largo circa 13, si snoda lungo due gradinate elicoidali concepite in modo tale da essere indipendenti e non comunicanti tra loro Sull’entrata la scritta QUOD NATURA MUNIMENT INVIDERAT INDUSTRIA ADIECIT a celebrare la potenza dell’ingegno umano.