Orvieto stands on a tufa cliff (ignimbrite of Orvieto - Bagnoregio), between 280 (Piazza Cahen) - 325 (S. Francesco) m above sea level, which dominates the valley of the Paglia river, a right tributary of the Tiber and which just below the city ​​receives from the left the Chiani, the Chiana Romana coming from the Valdichiana.

Attested since the Middle Ages the legend is linked to a deep cave located on an islet in Lough Derg (Donegal), Republic of Ireland. According to legend, the cave had been indicated by Christ to St. Patrick, who used to retire to the island in prayer, so that he could show the pains of Hell to the most incredulous faithful who had ventured there until they reached the bottom. In exchange, they would have obtained the remission of sins and access to Paradise.
The cave became a place of pilgrimage until, in 1457, Pope Alexander VI ordered the closure of the cave.

The construction of the church was started in 1290 by the will of Pope Nicholas IV, in order to give a worthy location to the Corporal of the miracle of Bolsena. Designed in Romanesque style by an unknown artist (probably Arnolfo di Cambio), in the beginning the direction of the works was entrusted to fra Bevignate from Perugia who was soon succeeded, before the end of the century, by Giovanni di Uguccione, who introduced the first Gothic forms . In the early fourteenth century, the Sienese sculptor and architect Lorenzo Maitani assumed the role of master builder of the work, its facade is famous.


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