While it gets plenty of tourists, Orvieto (two hours north of Rome) is a town whose historic and artistic importance is underappreciated. Orvieto was a thriving Etruscan city centuries before Christ. The Romans had it under siege for two years before defeating it. Since Romans didn't need to bother with hill-town defenses, the city lay in ruins for 700 years until Rome fell. Due to the chaos that came with the power vacuum left by the fall of Rome (rampaging barbarians chasing the meek out of the valleys), hill towns were once again in vogue. So medieval Orvieto was born on the ruins of the Etruscan city that once capped its hilltop. Today, the entire bluff is honeycombed with Etruscan caves and exploring them is fascinating. Here's a quick look at a very old and very deep well -- one of many such 2,500-year-old sights in Orvieto.
This is Day 20 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I'm reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.