Orvieto Cathedral - The Interior

The Interior

The cathedral consists of a nave with six bays and two aisles, and is cruciform in shape. The concept has deliberately been left uncluttered and spacious. The interior, like the exterior, is decorated with alternative rows of alabaster and travertine but only to a height of about 1.5 m. The rows above them were painted in alternative rows of black and white stripes in the late nineteenth century.

The cylindrical columns also consist of alternate rows of travertine and basalt. Their shape and ornamentation evolved during the construction of the cathedral, as well as the decoration of the capitals. The alabaster panes in the bottom parts of the aisle windows keep the interior cool during the fierce Italian summer, while the neo-Gothic stained-glass in the upper parts of the windows date from 1886–1891 and were designed by Francesco Moretti.

The trussed timber roof was decorated in the 1320s by Pietro di Lello and Vanuzzo di Mastro Pierno, and was heavily restored in the 1890s by the architect Paolo Zampi and Paolo Coccheri to its current state. During the years 1335-1338 the transept was roofed with quadripartite (four-celled) stone vaults.

Near the left entrance is the large marble baptisimal font with lions and elaborate frieze reliefs. It was begun in 1390 by Luca di Giovanni. It was expanded sixteen years later by Pietro di Giovanni from Freiburg, who added the red marble basin, and Sano di Matteo, who sculpted the octagonal pyramid in 1407.

It is overlooked by a fresco in International Gothic style of the "Madonna Enthroned with Child", a Maestà painted by Gentile da Fabriano in 1425. This is the only fresco saved when the stucco altars were added to the nave chapels in the late 16th century.These altars in turn were destroyed in the 19th century and only fragments of the other 14th and 15th century frescoes reappeared. Some of these frescoes are ascribed to Pietro di Puccio (who also painted frescoes in the Camposanto in Pisa).

At the beginning of the nave stands a holy water stoup, sculpted by the Sienese architect Antonio Federighi between 1451 and 1456. During that time he also contributed to the decoration of the façade.

Above the entrance of the Chapel of the Corporal stands the cathedral's large organ, containing 5,585 pipes and originally designed by Ippolito Scalza and Bernardino Benvenuti in the fifteenth century before being redesigned in 1913 and 1975. Scalza’s other major contribution to the church is the large Pietà he sculpted in 1579. it took him eight years the carve the four figures in this imposing marble group.

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