St Patrick’s Well

St Patrick’s Well, or Pozzo di San Patrizio, is located in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. There are 248 steps down (and up). The view in my image is looking up at the daylight at the top of the well. The whole thing is like a tower that goes down into the ground, rather than standing above it. The design uses a double spiral stair, with 70 windows from the stair into the shaft of the well. The point of this double spiral was to allow mules to go down and fill vessels and come back up the second spiral without any traffic jams. I sure felt like a mule going down and then up this structure with my friend Julian!

St Patrick’s Well © Harold Davis

St Patrick’s Well was built on orders from Pope Clement VII who had taken refuge at Orvieto during the sack of Rome in 1527 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The Pope wanted to make sure there would be enough water in event of a siege.

The rather odd name for the well was inspired by St Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland. This is a cave supposedly shown St Patrick by Christ that is said to go down all the way to purgatory (and, yes, climbing out of the well with my camera gear did indeed feel purgatorial!).

From a photographic viewpoint, I am interested in the feeling of light in my image, considering how dark it was down there at the bottom of the well (I had to use my headlamp to see what I was doing with the camera).

This entry was posted in Italy.

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