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St Patrick’s Well – an engineering feat

  • St Patrick’s Well – an engineering feat

    If you can’t get enough of the underground theme, or just want a taste of it, join a visit to the so-called St Patrick’s Well, an essential city attraction. Before descending to the depths, enjoy the delightful views over Orvieto from the neighbouring city gardens off Piazza Cahen.

    The well’s poetic name comes from the belief that it represented St Patrick’s Purgatory, with the promise of Paradise beyond. The well was designed by the Florentine, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in 1527, to provide Orvieto with a reliable water supply, and took a decade to complete. This great engineering feat was commissioned by Pope Clement VII, who sought refuge here to escape Charles V’s invading forces during the Sack of Rome in 1527. Set in the lowest part of Orvieto, the site leads down 62 metres within the well shaft by means of two spiralling ramps, with the double-helix effect provided by the two flights of steps, connected by a bridge at the bottom. The cunning of this ingenious system made it possible to reach the well water with pack animals in tow but then to go back up without getting in the way of the mules coming down.

    Address: St Patrick’s Well (Pozzo di San Patrizio), Piazza Cahen, Orvieto
    Web: www.umbriatourism.it

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