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Orvieto (Umbria), Italy

Communal Palace

The Town Hall can be considered as the centre of Orvieto's civic life, situated in that Piazza della Repubblica which also accommodates an important religious symbol of the city in the form of the Church of St. Andrew.

Elegantly extended along seven arches, the Town Hall of Orvieto is actually an unfinished work, as evidenced by another piece of arch at the end of the facade.

A point of reference for city life

The history of the Town Hall can be divided into two main periods. The first dates back to the early thirteenth century, when the building was built in medieval style with the aim of it becoming the administrative centre of the city.

At that time it was an almost natural choice, since the same place seems to have represented the core of the city since its origins, hosting the assemblies and civic meetings of its inhabitants.

The second period dates back to the end of the 16th century, and more precisely to the years 1573-1581, when the local architect Ippolito Scalza carried out a thorough restyling of the building.

The Renaissance renovation

Scalza, also famous for having created part of the facade of the Cathedral, wanted to impart a resolutely Renaissance character to the facade of the Town Hall, through the insertion of artistic elements of imposing expressive vigour.

To exalt the importance of the building, as a result of its public use, the artist modified the appearance of the arcade and the windows of the first floor, adding luxurious details that have drastically changed its visual impact.

In fact, the work was even more far-reaching, because it was intended to extend the structure of the building itself by adding four more arches, until it evened out the length of the square. 

This is the reason why, of the seven existing arches, the one that is most prominent is located in a decentralized position with respect to the axis of the facade's symmetry.

The valuable details of the façade

Although it is not a finished work, the 16th century architectural renovation undoubtedly succeeded in conferring a decidedly new appearance on the Town Hall, which was in any case balanced and definitely more in keeping with the institutional role it was recognized for.

The columns that frame the sixth arch, the one designed to become the central element in Scalza's vision, create a suitable atmosphere of majesty, amplified by the massive bases and by a wider and more protruding balcony

In the same way, the windows on the first floor appear imposing and impressive today, despite the elegance of their sinuous forms. The shape of the tympanums is enhanced by the Renaissance splendour of the decorations above, giving dynamism and energy to the entire facade of the building.

The frescoes on the internal walls

The interiors of the Town Hall have various details of artistic interest, including the cycle of frescoes of the so-called "good government", recently renovated and located in the current council hall, full of political references to the families and personalities of the Middle Ages.

The well was specially refined, which was originally located in the garden of the building, and served as a cistern, a work by Scalza himself and the sculptor Curzio Testasecca. Today this work can be admired in the nearby Piazza dell'Erba, with its valuable Renaissance style, embellished by the four coats of arms of the city's districts.

An appointment with art in the city centre

The Town Hall and the adjacent church of St. Andrew with its unmistakable bell tower, form an architectural complex of undeniable elegance and make Piazza della Repubblica an unmissable destination for a pleasant stop in the heart of Orvieto.