Posted by: main street writers | November 21, 2012

Apartment for Rent, Ancient Underground Cave Included

Orvieto, Italy crowns the top of a steep-sided hill forced up long ago through the vent of an ancient volcano. (Imagine a giant Play-Doh extruder.)  The Etruscans arrived at this lofty site some 3,000 years ago, and built their homes and their temple on its flat summit.  They also created a network of caves in the volcanic stone beneath – for water, for storage, and for protection.

Across the centuries, other civilizations arrived and built their own homes and places of worship atop the remnants of their predecessors.  They expanded the caves, and created areas to store wines, house olive presses, and shelter livestock.

Today, you can visit these caves – and apparently it is possible to own one, as well.  While searching the internet for pictures of Orvieto’s caves, I stumbled upon the following statement:

“Ancient Caves Come with Houses in Orvieto, Italy:

In Orvieto, Italy, when you purchase a house, you gain all the rights to the caves below your land.  Since the 9th century, the natural Orvieto caves have been expanded for many different uses… leaving a treasure trove for archaeologists today.”

This means that homeowners in Orvieto own not only their dwelling and the skirt of land around it, but also the layers of history that lie beneath it.  3,000 years of layers, running all the way back to the Etruscans.

I suppose this is true for homeowners everywhere, to whatever depth the local laws allow.  Still, I find myself imagining how it would feel to descend a series of carved stone steps into a cool, quiet keeping-room, and slide a bottle of wine into a rounded niche worn smooth by other hands and other bottles across hundreds and thousands of years.

You can find photos and information about owning a cave at: “Ancient Caves Come with Houses in Orvieto Italy”

And if you’ve ever wondered where the term “pigeon-hole” comes from, you can find at least one answer, along with many more pictures of the Orvieto caves, here.

Join us in Orvieto, Italy

Visit, Explore, Discover, Enjoy

May 12 – 18, 2013


Join us for a week in Italy, next May.  Visit Etruscan caves, explore new approaches to writing,  sample olive oils, taste wines, and enjoy slow lunches.  To learn more about Pathways to Discovery,  click here.






  1. Kathy,
    The convent B & B in which we stay sits over caves, and I have been down into them. The restaurant next door sits above caves. The owner of a restaurant, cave and well dug on orders of a pope in case of siege, is one of the places we’ll take you! In all, about 1200 caves lie under the city.

  2. That’s wonderful – I have a second ‘cave’ entry in mind, and will include this in it. Can’t wait to see them!

  3. I can testify — based on several years of delightful, deep experience — that Kathy is truly an inspiring writing workshop leader. You will learn a tremendous amount about your writing skills and yourself. Highly recommended!

    (Note: This is an unsolicited, non-remunerated comment.)

  4. […] and Slow Travel: Italy | Tags: Italy, Orvieto, Slow Food, Slow Travel, travel, writing « Apartment for Rent, Ancient Underground Cave Included Heaven by the Square […]

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