There’s so much to see when you’re visiting the medieval Umbrian town of Orvieto, that you may forget to stop by the Fondazione Museo Claudio Faina, but that would be a mistake.
This museum, which houses both the collection of the Faina Counts and Orvieto’s civic collection, is most impressive for its Etruscan objects – this is after all, one of the regions most associated with Etruscan civilization. But there are also impressive items from Ancient Greece and Rome.
And the noble home with its frescoed rooms in which the collection is held – just across the piazza from Orvieto’s impressive Duomo, and boasting spectacular views onto the Duomo’s 14th century mosaic facade – is worth the price of admission alone.
Conte Claudio Faina (1875-1954) seems to have been an obsessive collector of Etruscan artifacts.
Many are from nearby Etruscan tombs, but it seems he also had close ties to noble families around Chiusi, Tuscany (I’ve already written about the excellent Chiusi Museum of Etruscan Art in an earlier post), and his collection includes some objects from that region, including their distinctive funerary urns – the so-called canopic urns.
In reading some of the Count’s letters and diaries on display, it was interesting how he acknowledges that his passion for acquiring Etruscan art puts a financial pressure on him and his family, but he can’t control himself when faced with yet another treasure from the past.
I always enjoy visiting Etruscan collections around Italy, and if you have time when you are in Orvieto, this museum is definitely worth a visit.
But as impressive as the collection is, I must admit I was most spellbound by the golden light of that perfect January afternoon setting aflame the golden mosaics of the 13th-14th century Duomo.
The windows look out at the cathedral’s facade and you get a view you couldn’t hope to enjoy as you stand in front of the cathedral craning your neck upwards.
The lucky Faina family gazing out on that architectural masterpiece each day, and you can feel almost as privileged as you admire the details of that beautiful, medieval craftsmanship while exploring the wonders of the Ancient Etruscans.
When in Orvieto, after having climbed its medieval tower for impressive views over the city, be sure to save time for its Etruscan Museum.