the cave of the well
Pozzo della Cava
the interior
of the well
the well [pozzo]
from the top
Pozzo della Cava
Pozzo della Cava
the stone tablet
the stone tablet
the access
from Cava street
the well from
Via della Cava
other pictures are available
in the pages about
Pozzo della Cava's structure
and the access from Cava street

place: 4th cave of the itinerary
visible from the 2nd undergr. floor
discovery: 1984
the top of the well: 1986
emptying: 1996
the access from the street: 2004-'05
first opening: 1986

the Pozzo [well] della Cava
:: history ::

The history of the Pozzo della Cava goes back many centuries.

The rectangular-shaped shaft to the side is Etruscan, and was excavated as a test bore, in the search for the water table and also to allow access to the subterranean passages that carried water from springs.

In 1527 Pope Clement VII, fleeing from the Sack of Rome, took refuge at Orvieto and, before commissioning St. Patrick's Well, ordered the excavation of two public cisterns and the Pozzo (well) della Cava, readapting the Etruscan structure so that water from the spring in the road could be utilised if the city came under siege.

All the work was paid for by the local authorities of Orvieto and was completed in 1530.

The well remained open until 1646, when the town authorities ordered its closure, as is demonstrated by the stone tablet shown near the well, originally situated at its top head in Via della Cava.

As to the reasons for this decision, popular rumour had it that five French officers, who attempted to molest women in the quarter [the old medieval quarter of Orvieto, called "Cava", or quarry], were thrown in to the well.

The custom of concealing corpses there seems to have continued until more recent times, and in 1820 the Apostolic delegate of Viterbo admonished the local authorities of Orvieto with the letter which is reproduced here.

When, after more than a century of silence, in December of 1984, Tersilio Sciarra uncovered the well, it was only twenty-five meters deep, and the bottom was covered with the earth and refuse of centuries.

Not until the spring of 1996, were works undertaken which restored the structure to its original shape.

And just during the spring 2004 was restored the ancient access from Via della Cava.

:: the structure of the well ::

:: the access from the street ::
the well
  the structure
  the access from the street

the kilns
  the medieval workshop
  la Renaissance muffle
  the potsherds

Etruscan finds
  the reused tomb
  the rock tombs
  the cistern for water
  the underground passages

medieval finds
  the "butti"
  the wine cellar
  the pillar of a tower

the big cave
  the quarry and
  "the well number 2"

...not only caves
  the terrace and the shops