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Orvieto (Umbria), Italy

Moro Tower

The Moro Tower is one of the most fascinating monuments of Orvieto, symbolically located at the intersection of the four districts that make up the city.

The view from the top of its terrace is truly breathtaking, with a circular view over the entire territory of Orvieto and the valleys and hills that surround the cliff.

The climb to the top of the tower now offers a visually rewarding experience and allows us to clearly imagine the usefulness of the tower so many centuries ago, when the noble families who ruled the city had to beware of frequent attacks by brigades and captains on the payroll of the adversary families.

The tower and the Palace of the Seven

The tower forms a unicum with the underlying Palace of the Seven, called so because it once housed the seven magistrates who represented the arts and city corporations.

Later the palace became part of the papal possessions and that is why the tower was called for a long time the Pope's Tower. During the sixteenth century it assumed its current name, probably in honour of one of the lords of the time, Raffaele di Santo, known as the Moro. 

Some historical sources suggest that the Palace of the Seven also housed Antonio da Sangallo the Younger in the sixteenth century, a great Renaissance architect, creator of the ingenious Well of St. Patrick and known for having also collaborated in the construction of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

The four districts of Orvieto

The peculiar location of the Moro Tower in the centre of the city is due to the urban revamping at the end of the 13th century, when the city was divided into the Olmo, Corsica, Serancia and S. Maria della Stella districts.

The boundary lines of the districts divide the city perfectly into four parts and the Moro Tower is located right at the meeting point between the director of Corso Cavour, via Duomo and via della Costituente, as evidenced by the plaques dedicated to each district, located near the tower.

The structure of the Moro Tower and its bells

Viewed from below, the Moro Tower appears slender and elongated, with its square plan perfectly aligned with the four cardinal points. The entrance is surmounted by some valuable coats of arms made of stone.

The structure is made of local tufa stone and stands 50 metres high, culminating in a system of two bells placed on top of the tower.

The largest bell was originally placed on the Capitano del Popolo Palace and bears a valuable ornament to symbolize the 25 Arts and the seal of the city. Built in 1313, it was transferred to the Moro Tower during the 19th century, as was the smaller bell, which instead comes from the Church of Saint Andrew.

During these same years, a large mechanical clock was added, clearly visible near the summit.

The most beautiful view of the Orvieto territory

The ascent via the internal staircase to the Moro Tower is one of the must-see activities for those visiting Orvieto. The wide steps covered in wood, combined with handrails and metal protection, ensure that the climb is not too tiring, which is amply rewarded by the splendid view at the top. In any case, there is also an elevator which makes it possible to do part of the ascent in complete comfort.

As you stroll through the airy streets of the city, in an atmosphere that seems to be suspended in time, the accurate tolling of the bells of the Moro Tower will certainly tempt you even today to discover the most evocative viewpoint overlooking the city and the green surroundings of Orvieto's cliff: an experience not to be missed.

Curiosity: on the base of the Tower, on Via della Costituente, there is an inscription taken from Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, which refers to the fierce medieval disputes between the powerful local families of the Monaldeschi and Filippeschi: "Come and see Montecchi and Cappelletti, Monaldi and Filippeschi, unscrupulous men, who are already sad and these with suspicion!