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
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.
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
, it was only twenty-five meters deep,
and the bottom was covered with the earth and refuse of
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