The Pozzo di San Patrizio is located in a panoramic position, in the city center of Orvieto. It was built under Pope Clement VII, during the sacking of Rome, in 1527, when the Pope found refuge in Orvieto. He commissioned this work to the Florentine architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. The execution of the work ended in 1537.
The well has a circular cross-section, is 62 meters deep and 13 meters wide. Two spiral staircases are designed around the shaft to run separately—one above the other—avoiding any intersection between the two. Each ramp counts two hundred and forty-eight very comfortable steps, easy to walk downward even for packhorses or mule-drawn carts. At the base of the shaft, a small bridge connects the two staircases.
The emerging external part of the well consists of a large and low cylindrical construction. The outer decorations are part of the Arms of Pope Paul III—the Farnese family’s sculpted Lilies—who succeeded Pope Clement VII. At the entrance door, a plaque warns “quod natura munimento inviderat industria adiecit”—what nature stinted for provision, man’s application has supplied—paying honor to the power of human ingeniousness, capable of compensating for what Nature lacks, in this case lack of water in town.