Orvieto is an ancient city identified by many historians as Velzna, the most important town of the Etruscan: the civilization who settled on the rock between VIII and VII century b.c. There are numerous archaeological sites to prove the existence of the Etruscan population: the first to make wine in the caves dug out of the tuff under the town.
The Romans conquered Velzna in 264 b.c. and during their domination Orvieto, known by the Romans as Volsinii, continued to produce wine which was carried to Rome from the Pagliano port, in the area where the river Tiber meets the Paglia, at the time a navigable river.
During the barbaric invasions, Orvieto was at centre of the battles between Byzantines and Ostrogoths. When the nearest town of Bolsena was destroyed, Orvieto became beneath the Bishop’s role under the name of Urbs Vetus, from where the current name “Orvieto” comes from.
From the XII century Orvieto grew to be an independent commune, but in 1354 the Cardinal Egidio Albornoz annexed the town to the Pope’s State. During the Vatican’s domination, Orvieto’s wines continued to represent an important resource for the territory. The numerous Popes, who regularly stayed in Orvieto, were big commissioners of the white wine, today knows as Orvieto Classico. The reputation of the wine was so high that the majority of the work for the Cathedral was financed with wine. Artists, such as Luca Signorelli and Pinturicchio, were paid with a life supply of Orvieto Classico for their frescos in the church.
After the union of Italy, in 1861, the Vatican’s lands were expropriated by the new Italian government.
Today Orvieto’s wine is well known all over the world and represents the most important wine of the centre of Italy.